Researcher Meets Curriculum Development with Passion
Walk into Dr. Abhineet Sheoran’s office and you’re as likely to have him show you his latest research findings on cryptosporidium that are pinned to his wall as you are to hear an endearing story about one of his two teenage daughters.
Assistant professor Abhineet Sheoran, DVM (BVSc), MS, PhD, is an immunologist and infectious disease specialist, and director of the 12-month master’s degree program in Infectious Disease and Global Health (MSIDGH) at Cummings School. A true family man at heart, he brings a caring perspective and years of expertise in the laboratory to his students, whom he wants to see succeed as much as he does his own children.
The Journey to Understanding
Dr. Sheoran always dreamed of coming to the United States after being educated in his native country, having obtained a bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine at his local Haryana Agricultural University in India. After experiencing malaria twice, Dr. Sheoran sought to understand the transmission of disease and how the body responds, subsequently pursuing a master’s degree in the emerging field of immunology. “There were so many unknowns in this developing field,” he says. “It’s like a puzzle. Every piece is interconnected and it’s a challenge and reward to put them all together.”
After receiving his PhD at the University of Cambridge, England, Dr. Sheoran realized his dream to come to the United States, continuing to study the equine immune system at the Gluck Equine Research Institute in Kentucky. He began to focus on the human side of infectious disease when, in 2000, he joined Cummings School as a researcher in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, under the direction of Saul Tzipori, DVM, PhD, DSc, FRCVS, Chair, Department of Infectious Diseases and Global Health.
Together, Drs. Sheoran and Tzipori are working to develop a vaccine for cryptosporidiosis, a global zoonotic disease affecting children in Africa and South Asia. Their laboratories are also working to develop an antibody-mediated therapy to protect children and adults against hemolytic uremic syndrome, which develops after infection from enterohemorrhagic E. coli, a disease present in developed countries such as the United States.
The Rise of a New Program
Research is one of Dr. Sheoran’s professional passions, but when Dr. Tzipori asked him to spearhead the development of a new master’s program in infectious disease, he accepted the project with vigor.
“While continuing to engage in research investigations into serious human enteric infections, Dr. Sheoran has demonstrated his passion for educating the next generation of infectious disease scientists through his efforts to successfully establish and now lead the MSIDGH graduate program,” says Dr. Tzipori.
As director, faculty member and student mentor for the program, he enthusiastically looks forward to working with the next class of students—[sws_pullquote_right]”I want to mentor and guide each student meet their professional goals and ensure they garner the skills necessary to succeed.”
– Dr. Abhineet Sheoran [/sws_pullquote_right]all of whom have different aspirations. Some view the program as a way to prepare to work in the biopharmaceutical industry, public health or state laboratories, while others are preparing for the rigor of PhD, MD or DVM programs.
Dr. Sheoran uses his own practical research experience to guide the master’s students on their professional journey. “It’s like I have 15 different children. I want to mentor and guide each student to meet their professional goals and ensure they garner the skills necessary to succeed,” he says.
“Having a professor who cared so much about me is one of my greatest takeaways [from the program],” says Dylan Champer, MSIDGH ’16. “Dr. Sheoran checked in with me regularly and his confidence in me is what gave me what I needed to finish strong.”
Educating the Next Generation of Scientists
Dr. Sheoran recognizes that, with a new educational program, there’s much room to evaluate, refine and improve the curriculum. He offers support as students hone critical presentation and writing skills. He also encourages his students to go back and review material they may have gotten wrong on a test.
“We take a systems approach to understanding infectious agents and diseases they inflict globally. The program is designed to allow students to apply classroom learning to laboratory techniques courses, where they acquire skills and tools to solve real problems, such as developing diagnostics, vaccines and immunotherapies,” he says.
In the end, Dr. Sheoran hopes to help develop each of his students into a scientist, whether they have the desire to further advance the field of infectious disease and global health, or make an impact in other biology-related disciplines.