High-flying medic fighting obesity and heart disease

High-flying medic fighting obesity and heart disease

Kiran Patel is enjoying a highly successful medical career that has taken in work and study in locations ranging from Harvard to the London hospital where he was born.

Now a Clinical Research Fellow and a cardiology specialist registrar at the National Heart and Lung Institute based at Imperial College, Kiran (OE 2000–2007) is a member of the Royal College of Physicians. The winner of a string of prizes and awards for his work and research, he graduated from King’s College London with a First in 2010 and then from the college’s medical school with triple distinction three years later.

Kiran says he has “very fond memories” of his time at QE, where he was in Leicester House and where he was appointed a Senior Vice-Captain.

He was in the form group of current Headmaster Neil Enright, starting from September 2002 when Mr Enright arrived at QE as a new member of staff. “I remember lining up outside room A in 2002 on his first day as Head of Geography and form tutor for 9L. He subsequently remained our form tutor for three years, bringing us much-needed consistency after having had four form tutors in the preceding first two years at QE. This was in addition to our Geography lessons with Mr Enright during these years and again in Sixth Form.

“After QE I went on to study medicine at King’s with an elective – an eight-week period built into the curriculum to allow students to explore health service outside of the UK – at Harvard medical school. I deliberately chose to pursue a laboratory-based project investigating cardiovascular development in zebrafish, which was inspired by my undergraduate BSc research at St Thomas’ Hospital. The experience afforded me the opportunity to develop scientific skills in preparation for applying for an academic foundation programme after graduating from medical school. As one would expect, Harvard provided a highly intellectually stimulating environment that carried with it a palpable ‘buzz’. One could sense that ground-breaking, cutting edge research was being conducted all around the medical campus.

“Upon my return to the UK, I was surprised that my short undergraduate project at Harvard was short-listed for the Young Investigator Award at the London Cardiovascular Society, and found myself competing against doctoral candidates with considerably more experience than me.” He was named runner-up for this award.

On graduating from medical school in 2013, Kiran was offered two academic posts, one at Cambridge University and the other at UCL. “I chose to remain in London to pursue my interest in academic cardiology, a decision I believe reaped its rewards when I was able to present my research into inherited heart disease internationally.

“My first posting as a junior doctor was at Barnet and Chase Farm Hospital, where I had done my work experience placement in 2005. It felt somewhat of a homecoming, and I was glad that I was able to give something, however little, back to the local Barnet community after being schooled in the area and having done my work experience there as well.

“I then rotated to UCLH [University College Hospital] in 2014 – the hospital where I was born! – and then another local hospital, Northwick Park, in 2015.

“The last three years have been particularly busy; in 2017 I passed exams to gain membership of the Royal College of Physicians, applied for and started specialist training in cardiology in north west London, and married my wife, Jaime.

“Thankfully, we had a month after our wedding and before I started practicing as a cardiology registrar at Northwick Park and Central Middlesex Hospital in October 2017, so we decided to spend that time on honeymoon exploring Australia.

“In 2018 I temporarily paused my clinical training to pursue a PhD at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, investigating the impact of fat and obesity on cardiac electrophysiology (the sub-specialty of cardiology that focuses on management of rhythm problems).

“My work spans the spectrum of bench-to-bedside-to-population spectrum with three related but well-defined projects. It is a particularly relevant topic given the increasing prevalence of obesity and heart disease, and the health and economic burden that they represent.”

He and his team hope that their research will provide a mechanistic insight into obesity-related heart disease, and determine how weight loss can cause favourable changes to heart function.

“I am currently supervising two undergraduate BSc students and will be presenting some of this research at a European conference later this year.

“My longer-term ambition is to complete sub-specialty training in cardiac electrophysiology in London and remain committed to my teaching and academic interests.”

Kiran continues to do ad hoc shifts at Northwick Park Hospital. He lives in Stanmore, where he and his wife bought a house last year.

“We see our family regularly and I have remained in touch with several OEs, although this has largely been through work; in 2018 there were at least 12 OEs working at Northwick Park Hospital across different specialties, including me in cardiology and others in respiratory, emergency medicine and acute medicine. It felt like a QE reunion and was a privilege to work alongside my OE peers as doctors, and to be able to teach, support or advise whenever required of me.”

Kiran also fondly recalls being QE’s Guest of Honour at the Founder’s Day church service and Roll Call in 2014.

“It is always wonderful to hear from my alma mater and see that QE continues to grow strength to strength,” he adds.