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Surgeon inspires audience

Bone marrow doctor speaks on profession

By Daren Akagi, staff writer
On September 17, 2011

  • Dr. Bindu Kanathezhath addresses a packed room of students in PS-132 Friday on the influence of health care. The bone marrow researcher said students need to be dedicated and passionate about their major. Lamar James / The Advocate

A Bay Area surgeon inspired students interested in the medical field during a lecture held in PS-132 Friday at 2 p.m.

Dr. Bindu Kanathezhath, a pediatric bone marrow transplant surgeon at the Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, spoke to Center for Science Excellence students about her profession and background.

The CSE is a program that gives financial and academic support to students and offers mentoring, workshops and tutoring for science majors.

Students complimented Kanathezhath for her work in bone marrow research and saw the career as another choice in the medical field.

"Any new prospective career ideas are a good thing to know about," biology major Anthony Hoang said. He said Kanathezhath motivated him and he hopes to use her teachings "to help people and create change for the community."

Kanathezhath, who studied medicine in India, spoke about how medical research and procedures have changed the lives of sick people around the world.

"Cancer was thought to be impossible to cure in the '70s," Kanathezhath said. "Now there are a high number of cured cancer patients."

She said 55,000 to 60,000 people receive bone marrow transplants each year.

Kanathezhath said the procedure is specifically important to certain patients.

"A child with advanced cancer is what we're working to cure," Kanathezhath said.

The prospect of helping children motivates her to work harder in order to cure them.

"These kids really need good, compassionate people to take care of them," she said.

Even though he is not interested in the medical field and did not understand much of the information provided during the event, electrical engineering major Tremain Sharp commended Kanathezhath for her work.

"She's very dedicated," Sharp said. "(I) really appreciate what she's done and what she does everyday."

Kanathezhath also informed medical students about different areas of study and encouraged them to find a field that suits their interests.

"Choose the right kind of program for you," she said.

Kanathezhath said students considering a future in the medical world must be motivated and dedicated to a particular field of choice.

"Money should not be the focus," she said.

Kanathezhath currently mentors former CCC student Manjit Bhandal. Bhandal met Kanathezhath while searching for science programs after she transferred to UC Berkeley.

Originally interested in stem cell research, Bhandal was attracted to the clinical aspect of Kanathezhath's medical field and inspired by what she learned from the bone marrow researcher.

Although Kanathezhath's area of specialty is different from what Bhandal was originally interested in, the transition to a different subject was not tough for the former CSE student.

"You can achieve a lot of great things no matter what your background is," Bhandal said.

Chemistry major Ngozi Nwadike said she was glad to hear Kanathezhath.

"(The lecture) was very interesting," Nwadike said. "(Kanathezhath) does a lot (and) it was a lot to absorb in a short amount of time."


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