Alumni interviews feature RUSM Alumni who are actively conducting research. These interviews are meant to give insight into conducting research in a specific specialty, and into alumni experiences in medical school, residency and their career.
Dr. Roohi Jeelani is a 2010 RUSM graduate from Chicago, Illinois. She is a Reproductive Endocrinologist and Fertility Specialist at the Vios Fertility Institute, also in Chicago. She completed her residency and fellowship at Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center. Dr. Jeelani was interviewed in December of 2020 by RUSM MS2 student Opeoluwa Olukorede.
"Fertility is a young field. You have the opportunity to do research that can change instead of starting in a field that has been worked on for a really long time."
Interview with Dr. Roohi Jeelani
When you began medical school, did you think that you’d be involved in research as a part of your practice? If no, when did that change and why? If yes, did you end up where you thought you’d be?
Yes when I started medical school, I knew earlier on that I wanted to be a fertility specialist and I wanted to be involved in research in this field. And yes I ended up where I wanted to be!
What was your research experience when applying to Match and how do you think that affected your competitiveness as an applicant?
I conducted research during my breaks during medical school and while in medical school. I was able to analyze data for the lab and present our findings at international meetings. I wrote a lot of the abstracts and helped with the presentations. I knew I wanted to do fertility research and this is where I gained experience during my medical school journey. I matched into OB-GYN. I believe that my experience in research made me more competitive because the residency directors could see that I had done all this research during medical school and also presented at the meetings.
Tell us about your first publication and what that experience was like for you. Do you have any advice for medical students approaching their first publication?
My experience after my first publication was amazing; to see your name on a paper is fascinating! I can’t describe the feeling. Another exciting feeling is especially when someone cites your work; that gives you a lot of confidence that you are contributing to the field in a positive way. I would say to students that they should get excited because the feeling is indescribable!
How do you integrate your research into your clinical practice, in terms of both time-management and informing your clinical, evidence-based decision-making?
I am currently trying to use my clinical research to improve our clinical skills. For instance, I found through research that patients with low vitamin D levels had higher miscarriage rates so now in the clinic, we will always check these levels every time a mom comes in. It is a very rewarding experience.
When choosing residency programs, what did you look for in order to further your research goals? If you did not have research goals at that time, how did your choice in residency affect your future research goals?
I looked for programs that had an entire research branch and especially the type of research that I was interested in. Start your research early! For instance, Wayne State has a whole research branch with lots of labs one can gain experience in. Residents can also get a Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility fellowship afterwards. Try to look for a program that also has a fellowship.
How does research in your speciality differ from other specialties? What benefits or challenges do you encounter that are specific to your field?
Fertility is a young field. You have the opportunity to do research that can change instead of starting in a field that has been worked on for a really long time. There are lots of private practices and smaller labs working on similar projects. One of the challenges we encounter in this field is that you need large numbers to make a big difference. It is also an expensive field.
For students in elective rotations what advice would you give for those interested in research in your specialty for deciding on where to rotate?
Be bold. What is the worst that could happen? Keep emailing. If you do not get a response, try to see if there is a secretary since doctors always get busy.
What are foundational research skills that you would encourage medical students to begin learning? Are there any resources that you recommend to students?
Plan early. Since the exams are becoming pass/fail you have to start early. Realize what you want to do and have a plan beforehand even before rotations because the earlier the better!
Tell us about your current research interests and what keeps you passionate while pursuing them?
I am currently working on PCOS research and a lot of our research is affecting patients with PCOS, hyperandrogenism and implantation failure. We are learning that these diseases can vary by ethnicity. They also have different inheritance patterns. What keeps me passionate is getting to see a final outcome, seeing prospect studies and applying for grants.
Final thoughts from Dr. Jeelani: You can do whatever you want to do and there is no right way to do it. For students who are waiting to get into medical school or residency, you can do research or try a gap year program.
Research from Dr. Roohi Jeelani
Dr. Jeelani's research can be accessed through PubMed here. Recent works include:
01. Jeelani R, Collins GG, Beltsos A, Kearns WG. Review and recap of the Midwest Reproductive Symposium International: learning tool for continuing medical education for reproductive endocrinologists, geneticists, embryologists, mental health, and other infertility providers. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2018 Nov;35(11):2083-2085. doi: 10.1007/s10815-018-1311-5. Epub 2018 Sep 27. PMID: 30259237; PMCID: PMC6240535.
02. Jeelani R, Puscheck EE. Imaging and the Infertility Evaluation. Clin Obstet Gynecol. 2017;60(1):93-107. doi:10.1097/GRF.0000000000000268
03. Jeelani R, Bluth MH, Abu-Soud HM. Toxicology in Reproductive Endocrinology. Clin Lab Med. 2016;36(4):709-720. doi:10.1016/j.cll.2016.07.011
Opeoluwa Olukorede is a second year student at Ross University School of Medicine.