As part of our “Meet Yale Internal Medicine” series, today’s feature is on Sarthak Virmani, MBBS, assistant professor of medicine (nephrology).
Throughout his elementary, middle, and high school education in Dubai, Sarthak Virmani, MBBS, assistant professor of medicine (nephrology), showed a great aptitude for mathematics and physics. It therefore came as a surprise to his teachers when he decided to take the life sciences route and attend medical school in India.
At Kasturba Medical College of Manipal in Karnataka, India, Virmani knew he wanted to eventually work as an internal medicine physician. “I’m more of an extrovert, a people’s guy,” said Virmani.
He then learned about nephrology, a specialty that integrated his passions for math and medicine. “It’s all about numbers: your electrolytes, your sodium, your potassium. And it’s filled with fascinating calculations. I really like the whole analytical part of math and physics, and now I am in medicine, so I think nephrology is the perfect marriage of both,” said Virmani.
After his residency at University of Connecticut, Virmani came to Yale School of Medicine for his fellowship. “There was something very magnetic about the faculty here and the way they bring you in and mentor you and sponsor you. That mentorship was very palpable,” said Virmani. He went on to complete two fellowships at Yale, ACGME-accredited general nephrology fellowship and then an extra year of AST-accredited transplant nephrology fellowship.
Of the various subspecialties within nephrology, Virmani said he was always inclined towards transplant, acknowledging that this was largely influenced by his mentors at Yale. “They’re amazing faculty,” he said, “I think for a young learner, for the young mind, what you really thrive on is good mentorship.”
He also finds tremendous gratification in helping to provide life-changing transplants, relieving patients of the difficult lifestyle often associated with dialysis treatments.
This does not mean transplant work is without its own challenges. Transplant recipients are immuno-compromised, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially frightening for Virmani’s patients and their families. Even when fully vaccinated, immuno-suppressed individuals must continue to exercise extreme caution and practice social distancing.
“A very common theme was, ‘Hey doc, it’s been a year, I’ve not seen my children, I’ve not met my grandchildren,’” said Virmani. “It was heartbreaking for me as a transplant physician, as a provider, as someone who’s trying to make sense for these patients.”
Although these are difficult and confusing times, Virmani feels that it is important to look for the silver linings in life. “Covid has brought the world a little closer. People have now realized more than ever that we are all interconnected.”
Looking forward, Virmani is focused on the education of future generations. He currently supports Yale’s transplant nephrology fellowship as a member of the academic team that trains one fellow every year, participating in weekly academic conferences and case discussions.
Virmani is also interested in pivoting towards hospital management later in his career, hoping to one day take on administrative responsibilities like managing organ allocation, and the laws and regulations behind transplants.
“But clinical practice will remain my first love,” said Virmani. For the time being, he is committed to providing exceptional care for pre-transplant, peri-transplant, and post-transplant patients.
Almost 100 years after John Peters, MD, founded the metabolism section at YSM, the Section of Nephrology continues to thrive and grow. Focused on excellence in patient care, research, and education, the section’s faculty members are national and international leaders in the field. Learn more at Nephrology.