Clinical Corner logoSkand Shekhar, MD, is a clinical fellow in adult endocrinology in NIH’s Inter-Institute Endocrinology Training Program. We encourage you to check out his inspirational words on clinical fellowship during a pandemic in our May Clinical Corner column. For our annual arts issue, we learn a bit more about Dr. Shekhar, including his interests in landscape photography.

For his medical training, Dr. Shekhar attended medical school at the University of Delhi, India. He completed his residency training in internal medicine and medical chief residency in Saint Peter’s University Hospital/Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey. Dr. Shekhar’s research interests include reproductive endocrinology, neuroendocrinology, and thyroid disorders.

We asked Dr. Shekhar a few questions about himself to get to know the person behind the degree. Introducing Dr. Shekhar:

Dr. Shekhar photographic cherry blossoms

Where are you from, and what path brought you to NIH?

I grew up in New Delhi, India and always dreamed of being an academic physician, being born in a family of doctors. While in medical school, I quickly realized that medical research deeply interested me, making me feel like I would be able to leave a long-lasting mark and, in the process, move medicine forward.

In the second year of medical school, I conducted a study in pediatric malnutrition, which went on to influence government policy in India, affirming my belief in the power of medical research. Pursuing this interest, I decided to explore my options for postgraduate medical training in the United States. In 2013, I was accepted for a clinical endocrinology rotation at NIH for the fourth year of my medical school training.

From the day I entered the NIH campus, my imagination was captured, and I was inspired to return to this institution in the future. After completing my internal medicine residency in New Jersey, I was accepted into a clinical fellowship in endocrinology at NIH, allowing me to join the specialty and institution of my dreams. I have been living that dream since 2018 and have enjoyed every moment of it.

What influenced you to study endocrinology in particular?

When I entered medical school, I searched for a field where I could apply basic physiology knowledge to improve human health and deepen our understanding of human evolutionary processes. I firmly believe that a global approach to modern diseases goes a long way in providing long term solutions. I joined reproductive endocrinology research and found the world of hormones to be fascinating. By modifying the hormonal milieu, one could prevent and cure cardiovascular disease, infertility, diabetes, obesity and hypertension—to name a few examples of modern conditions plaguing humanity.

Nearly all non-communicable conditions and some infectious conditions, including COVID-19, are influenced by hormonal alterations. To be able to help many people with these diseases, as well as to pursue my scientific endeavors, I decided to train in endocrinology. My endocrinology training experience has exceeded my expectations in terms of both providing clinical benefit to those in need and contributing to the advancement of medical sciences.

What is your most memorable experience so far while at NICHD?

This is a very difficult question to answer purely because I have innumerable memorable moments—from seeing basic physiology applications in the clinical care of patients with the rarest of rare conditions to assisting with developing “first-in-human” diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. However, I am reminded of two unforgettable moments. The first was my meeting with Drs. Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci in the first year of fellowship. I was inspired by their humility, their words of guidance for physician scientists in training, and their enthusiasm for science. The second was my meeting with Dr. Michael Young, the Nobel laureate in medicine in 2017, when he visited the NIH. He shared his experiences with a small group of us and encouraged us to pursue our scientific interests ceaselessly.

In your profile on the NICHD website, you mention you enjoy landscape photography. How did you become interested in it, and what do you like about it?

My interests outside academic medicine are many, but the major ones include travelling and photography. Photography initially started as a part of travelling but has evolved into an independent hobby for me. I love the fact that every picture can speak a thousand words and convey a story without a script. It allows me to take my mind off everything else and enjoy nature’s beauty. I am still a work in progress, but I’m happy to share a few pictures that I’ve captured.

Photo of cherry blossom branches

“Cherry Blossom season in Tidal Basin” in Washington, DC
Photo by Skand Shekhar, MD, DABIM

Aerial shot of Kauai coastline with resorts

Kauai, Hawaii
Photo by Skand Shekhar, MD, DABIM

Bright blue waves churning around rocks

“On the Rocks,” Oahu, Hawaii
Photo by Skand Shekhar, MD, DABIM

Photo of a rainbow over Kauai's mountain ridges

“Paradise” in Kauai, Hawaii
Photo by Skand Shekhar, MD, DABIM