Perspectives is an ongoing series of Q&A’s with longtime faculty and staff at McGovern Medical School to give readers a glimpse into how the campus has changed over the years and the impact the school has had on their professional lives. This week’s edition of Perspectives features Ponnada A. Narayana, Ph.D., M.Sc., professor of diagnostic and interventional imaging and vice chair for research and the director of Magnetic Resonance Research.
- What first brought you to McGovern Medical School?
Both my graduate and post-doctoral research focused on hardcore physics problems. It takes a long time to see the impact of this research. I wanted to get into a field where the impact of my research can be seen within a short duration and where my physics and mathematics training can make a difference. Medical imaging is such an area. The strong program of medical imaging at the Medical School is what attracted me to the Medical School most.
- How has McGovern Medical School changed throughout your tenure here?
Our Medical School is a very dynamic entity. I have seen it grow in all areas, including clinical and research arenas. The research space and research spending has considerably increased. The research space has, I believe, more than doubled. We acquired new sophisticated equipment such as MRI scanners, Cryo EM etc. We have added School of Biomedical Informatics. Most importantly, I see dramatic improvement in the quality of faculty, students, and high-impact publications.
- Are there any mentors or colleagues who have been instrumental to your development and achievements?
I am not sure that I can name a single mentor that contributed to my development. However, my interactions with a number of colleagues, particularly Dr. Jerry Wolinsky and the late Dr. Ophir, greatly contributed to my professional development. Thanks to these interactions, the MRI group gained both national and international recognition.
- Do you have any particular accomplishments, awards, or recognition that stand out and what makes them special?
The President Scholar award, selection as an ISMR Fellow, and recognition as a Distinguished Researcher by the Academy of the Radiology Research are some of the recognitions I cherish. Most importantly, the recognition of my research accomplishments by my peers both nationally and internationally is what I cherish most. This led to numerous invitations to talk about my research, evaluate institutions of higher learning in many countries, participate in peer review, and continuous NIH funding over 30+ years.
- What have you most enjoyed about your time at McGovern Medical School?
During my long tenure at the Medical School and as member of GSBS, I have had the pleasure and opportunity of training more than 30 very smart graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, and numerous junior faculty members. Many of them have become leaders in their own areas. I have had the opportunity to interact with many highly talented clinician-scientists that opened up number of opportunities where my research had an impact on patient management. My interaction with my research group members opened up new areas that are at the very cutting edge. This mentoring and scientific interaction with colleagues that opened up new avenues is all what any academician dreams about.