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Faculty Focus: Mahi Ashwath, MD

Date: Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Mahi Ashwath, MDWhat is your hometown?

I grew up in Hyderabad, India which is a large Metropolitan City in South India. I studied at Osmania Medical College in Hyderabad, one of the premier medical colleges in India.

How/when did you become interested in science and/or medicine?

My interest was always to heal, help and serve people, so I was naturally drawn to medicine at a very early age. This was furthered by my interest in math and science. During my third year in medical school I was drawn towards cardiology and especially cardiac imaging.

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?

I joined the University of Iowa in January 2017.

How or why did you choose to join the faculty at the University of Iowa?

At my first visit, I was really impressed with the excellent work that was happening in the cardiology division. This coupled with friendly and supportive staff made me realize that this place was a well-kept secret and that I wanted to work here.

Is there a teacher or mentor who helped shape your career?

While there are multiple role models in my life, my early mentors were my parents who instilled the values of honesty, integrity, dedication, passion, and hard work. My interest towards cardiology grew when I spent time with Dr. Soma Raju, a leading cardiologist in Hyderabad, India whose compassion, patience and dedication was second to none. Dr. Raymond Kim, my mentor during my cardiac MRI training at Duke University, instilled in me the importance of attention to detail, perfection, leadership and advancing medicine and science.

How do you see your faculty role impacting medicine and/or science?

As a cardiologist, the President of Iowa ACC, and being active regionally and nationally in the various aspects of cardiology, I plan to use my leadership skills to mentor, support and promote the next generation of cardiologists to be great clinicians and leaders in their fields. I will work towards programs to help support women by encouraging inclusivity and diversity in cardiology. I also hope to increase awareness of heart disease in women, along with increasing awareness of advanced cardiac imaging, cardiac MRI.

What is the biggest change you've experienced in your field since you were a student?

Medicine is rapidly advancing with multiple advancements, improving our ability to help patients with early and accurate diagnoses and more efficient treatments. High resolution CT to image coronaries and tissue characterization by MRI has revolutionized the way we think about cardiology. Interventional cardiology with percutaneous aortic and mitral valves replacing valve surgery and shortening recovery times, electrophysiology with leadless pacemakers, all are huge changes affecting the lives of physicians and patients on a daily basis.  

What one piece of advice would you give to today's students?

The main reason we are in this profession is the patient. So, never lose sight of the patient and be an advocate for the patient. At the same time, take time to care for yourself and make sure you make time for yourself, your loved ones, your interests and passions.

I want them to be passionate about what they want, follow their dreams and in the end make a difference to society and mankind at large. When things are not going as planned, I want them to remember “This too shall pass” and continue to have faith and the same enthusiasm that they once started with.

In what ways are you engaged in professional activities outside the University (i.e. population-based research, mentoring high school students, sharing your leadership/ expertise with organizations or causes, speaking engagement off campus, etc.)?

I have been active with the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the Society of Cardiac Magnetic Resonance (SCMR). As President Elect for the Iowa ACC, I will serve as a liaison between the cardiology community in Iowa and the National ACC. In addition to serving as a champion for the Iowa ACC members, my main agendas will involve mentorship for the next generation of leaders and encouraging and promoting diversity. Part of my mission is to increase the awareness and interest for women in cardiology, being active with Women in Cardiology at the ACC and the SCMR.

I have been involved in moderating cardiology fellow Jeopardy sessions at a National and regional level, and in numerous presentations relating to cardiac imaging and cardiac MRI at a regional level. I am also involved in presentations about pregnancy and heart disease, in an effort to promote heart health in women.

What are some of your outside (personal) interests?

Spending time with my family, watching my kids grow and spend time with them, traveling, reading and painting. I always wanted to see the Wonders of the World. I consider myself lucky to have seen the Great Wall of China, the pyramids of Egypt, Machu Picchu in Peru, leaning tower of Pisa, the Colosseum in Rome and, the Taj Mahal in India, each one more amazing than the other. I enjoy reading and find oil and acrylic painting truly relaxing.

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