Student Spotlight - Meet Aalap Herur-Raman, MS, MD Candidate Class of 2024
What brought you to GW and SMHS?
I originally moved from Chicago to DC in 2017 to work in the GW Department of Neurosurgery. I was a biomedical engineer working for a medical device startup called Surgical Theater. In my role, I used Surgical Theater’s technology to create virtual reality reconstructions of MRI and CT scans for surgical planning and preoperative patient education. After three years of working in the MFA and GW Hospital and meeting a lot of incredible mentors and friends in healthcare, I realized I enjoyed the clinical side of medicine more than the technological side and began the process of applying to medical school. I received my acceptance to the GW SMHS MD program just as lockdowns were beginning around the world at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Have you participated in any memorable research or special projects at GW?
I really enjoyed falling in love with medicine through my biomedical engineering role prior to starting medical school. I was involved in early research in using virtual reality to verify and quantify the effectiveness of new neurosurgical approaches. Those early projects made me appreciate the endless the pursuit for medical knowledge and made me consider practicing medicine as a future career option.
What's been your most unexpected, surprising or challenging experience as a GW student?
As cliché as it may be, I think adapting to the educational changes forced by the COVID-19 pandemic was the most unexpected, surprising, and challenging experience as a GW student. I did not expect my first year of medical school to be mostly virtual. I was hired as one of the AV support technicians for the MS1 class and was responsible for a lot of the logistics and troubleshooting associated with running a virtual curriculum. Although, I had lots of experience in tech prior to school I found it quite challenging yet also extremely rewarding.
As you reflect on your time at GW so far, can you share a favorite Himmelfarb memory, or an experience you found to be most useful?
I think my favorite Himmelfarb memory is a recent one where 2 other medical students and I spent 2 intense hours quickly learning how to model 3D files on my laptop so we could submit a project for 3D printing at the library. I really enjoy discovering all the amazing resources available for students at Himmelfarb.
You took on a unique role at Himmelfarb Library this year. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
This year I got involved with Himmelfarb’s effort to implement and increase use of the BodyViz 3D Anatomy Learning Platform in the Bloedorn Technology Center on the library’s 3rd floor. The BodyViz system takes MRI and CT scans and creates a virtual 3D reconstruction of the scans that allows the user to visualize and learn the patient-specific anatomy from any angle. Thanks to my prior work with medical virtual reality, I was familiar with the features of the BodyViz system and helped the library create user guides and tutorials for the platform. I also worked on increasing student use of BodyViz, which was especially challenging during the pandemic when distancing and masking requirements were still in full force. I am hoping that next year my classmates will be able to better make use of this and other resources available at Himmelfarb.
When you are not studying, what are your hobbies, interests, or special things you like to do?
I practice Capoeira, an afro-brazilian martial art, and Bollywood Dancing, and like to destress by training those arts and going on bike rides around DC. I also love cooking and am a regular at the Dupont Farmers Market.
What are your plans after GW?
I will go wherever residency takes me! I am thinking of some sort of surgical or interventional specialty and currently do not have any deep ties to any geographic region, so wherever I match is where I will be next.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
I am always looking to meet fellow classmates and get involved in new projects. If you see me in Himmelfarb come say hi!