April 1, 2017

Dr. Aravind Ganesh | Rhodes Scholar, stand-up comedian

If you ask Dr. Aravind Ganesh about his personal motto, he would paraphrase the quote attributed to Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

If you ask Dr. Aravind Ganesh about his personal motto, he would paraphrase the quote attributed to Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  As an immigrant to Canada during his teenage years, Aravind says those words had a profound influence on him.

And he still stands by them. 

Aravind, who completed his training as a medical doctor in 2012, is specializing in neurology. He is influencing change by exploring strategies for prevention and delivery of health care for conditions such as stroke and dementia.

As the Oxford lead of a collaboration with McGill looking for blood-based biomarkers in Alzheimer's disease, Aravind and his colleagues recently found promising results that can help early identification of patients for potential therapies before symptoms of dementia are evident. He sees this as one of his top projects to date. “It was an exhilarating experience and an excellent lesson in the value of building inter-disciplinary bridges,” he says, crediting mentors from both the University of Calgary and Oxford University for the training and opportunities.    

Aravind envisions his “ideal career” as one combining patient care, clinical research and innovation with a dash of medical education. His core vision is to help patients, figure out how to help them better, and teach others how to do so.

To achieve this vision, Aravind hopes he inherited some of his grandmother’s quiet determination. He counts her as someone in his life he most admires. While rising up the ranks in her career, she put six kids through college in India all on her own. “This incredible lady also introduced me to the English language,” he says. “If there's even a drop of that in me, I count myself to be incredibly lucky.”

But is it being lucky, or more about having the right attitude? If he got the chance to talk to his 16-year-old self, Aravind says he’d be sure to mention the Gandhi quote, but also make sure his younger self understood the importance of being true to who you are and being kind to others. “Those who say nice people finish last are looking at the wrong finish line.”

The finish line for Aravind is still many years away, and as busy as he is with his career path, he makes sure to enjoy some down time hiking, travelling, reading, writing, and spending time with family and friends. And a little detail that many may not know about Aravind is that he enjoys performing stand-up comedy from time to time.

As far as what is next, Aravind plans to continue enjoying the journey he is on, sharing it with the people he loves and making a difference in their lives and the lives of others along the way.

Tidbits from Aravind

Achievements: Aravind is one of eight Rhodes Scholarship recipients from the Cumming School of Medicine.

Favourites: He enjoys all genres of movies and loves fusion music.

Fun fact: Aravind says he has finally learned to cook a decent curry.

Passionate about: On the entrepreneurial end of things, Aravind is passionate about developing mobile-based monitoring and management solutions for chronic diseases.

What the Cumming School of Medicine should do in the next 50 years: Aravind would like the Cumming School of Medicine to become the leading centre for clinical trials and digital-health innovation in Canada.