Meet The Superhero with Capes, Dr Shirish Rao

Dr Shirish Rao
I always wanted to do something meaningful in research and make an impact. My journey kickstarted in my second year of college when I joined my college symposium team (R.E.S.C.U.E_), during which we investigated the prevalence, causes, and health impacts of screen addiction in Mumbai. 

From understanding my abilities as a researcher to taking up responsibilities as the team leader, the symposium has been the thing that has brought the most out of me and has made the foundation for the projects coming my way. 

Towards the end of the first lockdown, I realized there was hardly anyone talking about the situation of non-COVID patients. Trying to find answers, I surveyed over 400 households in Mumbai to understand the treatment-seeking behaviour and quality of care received by such patients during the lockdown. 

This study became my first publication and gave me great joy, which was doubled when our novel findings were cited in The Times of India. Around the same time, I was presented with an opportunity that I feel was the best among everything I have ever done I was appointed the Secretary of aspire_sethgsmc.  

Starting as a team of two, we put together a family of more than 50 members who gave their all to bring ASPIRE to a level of distinction. We conducted multiple research workshops and journal clubs and created a research community. 

Today, ASPIRE stands with a reputation of its own. Through ASPIRE, I met many mentors and peer researchers who helped me take my undergraduate research to a national level. This network also guided me to join asar_for_india, an organization which aligned with my career goals. 

Through ASAR, I have worked on multinational policy projects as big as the Lancet Commission and interacted with eminent researchers and policymakers in the field. 

From thinking I would be a diagnostician like House MD in my first year, to realising my passion to serve as a researcher in public health and policy, I feel my dream to have “some kind of impact” may have found just the right path! 

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