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He Found His Passion in Clinical Care and Research
Now He's Heading to UConn Health

Srinath Ramanan was 6 years old when he, his mother, and older brother packed up their lives in India to come to the United States. His mother and father both had solid careers in India, but they left because they didn't see enough opportunity for their boys.


Srinath Ramanan

Srinath's father came first, traveling across America looking for work before he finally landed an IT job in Stratford, CT. He sent plane tickets to his family, who arrived Sept. 7, 2001, four days before the terrorist attacks.

It was a charged and difficult time for Srinath. “Anyone who looked different was seen as a threat,” he recalled, adding that he and his brother were bullied at school. “I love my culture and love my food, but I found myself hiding in the corner and closing my lunch box if anyone came near me.”

Still, Srinath said he and his family eventually discovered a new kind of normal. They found an Indian community to connect to, and his mother got back to singing South Indian classical music and her traditional cooking.

By middle school, Srinath's interests gravitated to literature as well as astronomy. His anatomy teacher in high school, however, urged him to stick to the roots of science, and he listened. While most of his classmates in college headed into careers in engineering, IT, or business, Srinath enrolled in neurology, psychology, cognition, and human behavior courses.

Srinath's passion for all things brain led him into a job as a clinical research assistant at Yale University School of Medicine's Alzheimer's Disease Research Unit (ADRU). He trained as a neuro-psychometrician and was responsible for taking patient volunteers through their medical histories, physical exams, diagnostic/cognitive tests, and a lot of hand holding during MRI and PET scans. He remembers thinking, all the time, “This is where I belong.”

Three years later, Srinath took his MCAT and was accepted into the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, where he became involved in the student chapter for functional neurosurgery research division of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

“One of the first patients I saw had been hospitalized for a few weeks with anti-NMDA encephalitis. We were throwing every known treatment at him, and nothing worked,” Srinath said. But he also witnessed neurology cases where patients with dystonia, essential tremors, and migraine improved. “It gave me hope,” he said.

COVID-19 took away many of the hands-on experiences he wished he'd had, such as dissecting a brain and working in the anatomy lab. “We watched videos of other people doing what I wanted to do,” Srinath said. “It was very frustrating.”

During their rotations, he and his fellow students wore N-95 masks and large, two-pound face shields. During the medical rotation, they took care of the sickest COVID patients, many of whom never made it out of the hospital.

Srinath feels grateful for the many mentors who helped him on his journey. Christopher van Dyck, MD, founder and director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and ADRU at Yale, and Adam Mecca, MD, PhD, associate director of the ADRU, taught him the basics of statistical analyses for research. UConn's Kevin Manning, PhD, a clinical neuropsychologist, brought him into his laboratory to study racial differences in health and disparities in care. “Working with him was a life lesson in critical thinking,” Srinath said.

And, of course, he thanks his first and most dedicated mentors: his parents. For months after 9/11, he heard them talk about returning to India. It seemed too dangerous to stay, but they endured and flourished. Today, he said, “they tell everyone, even strangers, about their son the doctor.” He smiles. “It is embarrassing, but they are very proud.”

He won't be heading far from home. Srinath matched to UConn Health.