Indo-American Chamber honors Karandikar for research endeavors

By Lin Lofley

Dr. Nitin Karandikar, Vice Chairman of Pathology, is the winner of the Greater Dallas Indo- American Chamber of Commerce’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Science and Medicine.

Dr. Nitin Karandikar (left) accepts the Greater Dallas Indo-American Chamber of Commerce’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Science and Medicine from Anand Sharma, Minister of Commerce and Industry of India.

Dr. Karandikar’s research focuses on the immune interplay that underlies the pathogenesis and regulation of multiple sclerosis (MS) and the dissection of mechanisms of immune therapies in MS. His clinical work has focused on the multimodality diagnosis of leukemias and lymphomas.

He also is involved in several collaborative proj- ects that entail dissection of the immunology of chronic Hepatitis C infection as well as ways to minimize graft-versus-host-disease.

Dr. Karandikar’s interest in medicine came early in his life.

“I remember watching my uncle, a doctor, in his work,” said Dr. Karandikar, who is also Professor of Immunology and of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics. “I had an interest in biology and mathematics, but medicine was my first choice, and I feel fortunate to have been able to follow that route, as it eventually exposed me to the possibilities of biomedical research.”

He discovered this new focus after completing a pathology residency in his native India, and deciding to leave his pathology practice to become a doctoral student of immunology at Northwestern University in Chicago. 

“During residency training in India, we had to do a thesis project,” he said. “My mentor for this project was a hematopathologist who really encouraged me to build on a novel assay that she had brought into the clinical laboratory.

“This whole exercise opened my eyes to the joys of asking basic questions and finding their answers – research became very interesting to me. And finally, after deciding to embark on a research career in neuroimmunology, life came full circle when I could make hematopathology a focus of my clinical work.”

He remembers fondly his decision to join UT Southwestern as assistant professor.

“I was about to finish my hematopathology fellowship with Dr. Robert McKenna, when both he and our former chair, Dr. Errol Friedberg, Professor of Pathology, started recruiting me to stay on as a faculty member. I was already aware of the uniquely fertile and collaborative environment here. With my interest in MS immunology, Dr. Mike Racke and Dr. Elliot Frohman, Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics and of Ophthalmology, were natural collaborators who were very welcoming to me. To that list, I would add Dr. Bob Alpern, who was then the Dean and also the Acting Chair of Neurology.

“They all colluded to get me the lab space and resources that I needed, and structured my position in such a way that I could develop both my research as well as clinical programs, and for that I will always be grateful.

“This award brings with it an acknowledgement of the environment at UT Southwestern and an appreciation in the scientific and medical community,” said Dr. Karandikar, expressing his gratitude. “And getting it from the Indo-American Chamber makes me feel that my work is appreciated in the Indian community as well.”