"I Saw a Need..."
MPH alum views work as neurosurgeon through prism of public health.
Fresh out of medical school and facing a future in neurosurgery, Debraj “Raj” Mukherjee took a detour that was anything but slight. He veered momentarily out of medicine and into public health, eventually earning an MPH from the Bloomberg School in 2008.
It was a smart move for Mukherjee, who is equally concerned with issues of health care disparities and sound clinical trial design as he is with the latest surgical advances.
“I chose this somewhat unique path … because I saw a need that was yet to be filled,” says Mukherjee. “I thought that with sincerity, hard work and the proper training, perhaps I could make life and the care of brain tumor patients just a little bit better with my efforts.”
He observes that surgery, as a field, is broadening its almost-exclusive focus on “perfecting operative technique” to include “improving outcomes, enhancing quality and refining associated health systems.”
Professionally, he describes himself as one who is “at the intersection of neuro-oncology, public policy and the surgical sciences.”
As an MPH student, Mukherjee focused his research on retrospective assessments of disparities in neurosurgical care in the U.S. Since then, he has built on that work, designing brain and spine tumor clinical trials to include low-income and uninsured patients; groups that are often underrepresented in advanced clinical studies, he says.
Now a neurosurgery resident at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Mukherjee says that his public health studies inform his work as a clinician and researcher to improve surgical outcomes and increase access to care for brain and spine tumor patients.
“For anyone interested in creating or broadening a unique public health niche,” Mukherjee says, “I can imagine no better place than the Bloomberg School to help nurture your dreams.”