For my interview, I met with a man named Madhan Masilimani at Icahn School of Medicine. I had thought of interview questions a few days before so I could be prepared. When we got there, we looked at my mom’s E-Mail to find the room number. It said 33 B. We looked for so long. Finally, we came to 32 B, and the next room said 34 B. My mom and I couldn’t find his room so we walked into 32 B. I asked two woman who were talking where I could find Dr. Masilimani. They looked at me puzzled and said, “I’m sorry, but who?” After searching the whole hospital, they found nobody. They called the woman who arranged the interview. I took a seat and while I was sitting down, I looked down the hall. “Mom,” I said while yanking on her arm. She looked, and I said, “I think that’s him. I recognize his mustache.”
When he walked in, he took me to his office, and we started the interview. I began by asking him what his role was in the lab. He told me he has worked for 7 years in the lab, and his job is to figure out how people develop allergies. Then I asked him, “What are some challenges in your role?” He said that it was probably managing time for the samples because there are so many he has to get to.” Also, he said designing experiments.
My third question was, “What are your most popular treatments?” He said there are two big projects going on, the peanut patch and comparing egg oral immunotherapy with kids who can eat baked egg. Then, comparing the kids who got better and the kids who didn’t.
My fourth question was, “How has that changed you since you became a doctor?” He said they were still collecting data, and it may not work.
My fifth question was, “When does a child who has a peanut allergy develop the allergy? (Is it determined while a baby is still unborn?)” He said that there are many different ways you could be diagnosed and that could be one of them because of genetics. The child could also develop the allergy because of environmental reasons or inhalation. Also, something called sensitized where the allergen can just touch your skin.
My sixth question was, “Why does one sibling have an allergy but their sibling doesn’t?” Dr. Masilimani said that everything plays a role in an allergy and that not only genetics can be involved.
My seventh question Dr. Masilimani couldn’t answer. Is oral immunotherapy or patches doing better? Why is ____ doing better? He could not answer this because he is not part of a treatment, he just does research.
My eighth question was, “Are you planning for all your tests to go towards something big like a vaccine, or are all your tests separate?” He said all the studies are separate, but they are working on a vaccine for peanut allergies.
My ninth question was, “What are some of the new treatments that are in the early stage of use?” Dr. Masimilani said the peanut patch and oral immunotherapy are both in the early stage of use.
My tenth question was, “What treatments are you making now?” He answered, “People are trying to make different forms of oral immunotherapy, for example, Chinese herbs.”
My eleventh question he couldn’t answer, and he asked another doctor, Dr. Xiu-Min Li. She is part of the Chinese herb treatment team. I asked her, “What are some challenges you are having with your treatments?” Dr. Li said that the most challenging part of her study was the participants’ compliance. For example, in one of her groups, some of her participants decided they wouldn’t take the full dosage which was 30 pills per day! Since the participants didn’t take the right dosage, the test failed.
My twelfth question was, “What treatments do you plan to do in the future?” Dr. Masilimani replied that at Mount Sinai, they hope that all of their treatments under research will be future treatments.
My thirteenth question was, “How do you stay aware of the most current research and treatments being done around the world?” Dr. Masilimani said that every doctor keeps a research journal and they use those to stay updated. They also publish papers in a journal called Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
My fourteenth question was, “How important is it for you to share your research with other medical professionals around the world?” He replied, “very important because allergists have to learn about what’s going on and inform everybody. They also publish data and research and write papers.” Overall, I learned a lot at my interview.