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Faculty Spotlight with Dr. Rama Sharma

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Author: GSBS | Category: Faculty Spotlight | Cell Systems and Anatomy | January 26, 2018

1) Please tell me about yourself.

I hold double bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Microbiology & Immunology as well as in Biochemistry & Chemistry and worked in the pharmaceutical industry (Wyeth Labs) for a while before taking up graduate studies. I obtained my doctoral degree at Wayne State University School of Medicine, specializing in neuroscience, and continued my postdoctoral studies at The Forsyth Institute / Harvard School of Dental Medicine.

2) What brought you to UT Health San Antonio?

My desire to embark onto aging research and the opportunity to work on a research project in Dr. Brian Herman’s laboratory that effectively utilized my skillset - working with caspases, cell stress, apoptosis and mineralized tissues – brought me here.

3) Tell me about your research interests and why you are passionate about this topic?

We attain our peak bone mass in our 20’s that then drops continuously as we age. By age 50, one in three women and one in five men will experience a bone fracture. The risk for osteoporotic fracture in men over the age of 50 is more than double than that of developing, for example, prostate cancer. Mortality after hip fractures is as high as 20 percent within 12 months after fracture. Therefore, for healthy aging, we need to find ways and means for improving our skeletal health.

4) What do you want the public to know about your research? Why is your topic important?

Osteoporosis or low bone mass is a worldwide health problem, affecting almost 60 million people in USA alone and leading to approximately 9 million painful fractures annually – that corresponds to one fracture every three seconds! And these numbers are projected to increase by 300 percent by the year 2050. Osteoporosis also results in more hospital stay as compared to other diseases, including diabetes, myocardial infarction breast cancer In addition to the personal (pain, disabilities), societal (loss in workforce, family members required for caring) and financial burden, osteoporotic fractures lead to increased morbidity and mortality and significantly decrease the quality of life.

5) What is your favorite part of your job?

The freedom to work in multiple areas! I enjoy working in the lab and running assays, writing up manuscripts and grants, teaching and mentoring.

6) What is the most challenging part of your job?

Time management.

7) What do you like most about mentoring students?

Seeing them successfully attain their professional goals.

8) How do you like to spend your free time?

There is no free time! There are always plenty of projects waiting to be completed.

9) What is the most helpful advice you’ve received?

Enjoy your work and do it well. Believe in yourself.

10) When did you start becoming interested in science?

My first chemistry laboratory experiment when we titrated acids and bases lured me into science. The need for accuracy and precision and the excitement as the phenolphthalein dye changed color were enough reasons for me to pursue a career in science and I have never had any reason to look back.

11) Growing up, what did you want to be?

A novelist! I wrote a few short stories that were published in children’s magazines.

12) Who has influenced you the most in life?

There are many – starting with my parents, grandparents, mentors, colleagues and friends at every stage of life. Each interaction shapes your thinking and makes you you.

13) If you were stranded on a deserted island, what one band or musician would help keep your sanity?

Jim Reeves, Mukesh or Kishore Kumar.

14) What do you consider your favorite hobby?

Reading. I have a ton of books loaded on my kindle waiting to be read as are re-reads of my favorite authors - Enid Blyton, P.G.Wodehouse, Jeffrey Archer, Oliver Strange, Arthur Conan Doyle, Michael Crichton, Ayn Rand, Stephen King, Agatha Christie, Alistair Maclean, Arthur Hailey….

15) What is your favorite quote?

What goes around, comes around…

16) If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would it be?

Dinner with a dead person sounds spooky – I would prefer lunch with any living person given that the world is one family and that each one of us has an entertaining story to tell.

17) If you won the lottery, what would you do?

Give it all away immediately to those in need. Very few lottery winners have done well for themselves! Also, refer to my favorite quote above…

18) If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

The future – I could then enjoy the advances in computing, electronics and of course, life-science research. I am waiting for one of my students to develop his/her DeLorean paradigm.

19) If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Dessert – I would need the sugar for my brain to function!

20) Which authors or books have influenced you the most?

J. Krishnamurti and Paramahamsa Yogananda

21) Tell us something about yourself that otherwise we wouldn’t know or guess.

I used to jump across four-floor buildings during my high school and college days. 

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