Khalilah L. Gates, MD
- Native Chicagoan
- Joined faculty in July 2011 in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care
- Splits time between basic science research and clinical care
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“With research, I have discovered yet another way to help my patients!”
How did you get to Northwestern?
I grew up on the Westside of Chicago, in West Haven, near the United Center and went to high school on the west side at Providence St. Mel. I attended undergrad at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, then completed medical school and residency at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood. I wanted to stay in Chicago but have a new experience in medicine, so I came to Northwestern for Pulmonary/Critical Care fellowship. Northwestern offered a new environment of medicine and great opportunities to do research. The people in the Pulmonary division were phenomenal -- intelligent, warm, fun educators that had achieved a balance of physician-scientist.
Have you always been interested in research?
I came to Northwestern with the goal of gaining a wonderful clinical
education while dabbling in a little research before I ventured off into my career of clinician educator. When I entered my second year of fellowship, it was time for me to pick a research project. My mentors Drs. Sporn and Sznajder encouraged me to take on a basic science research project and I am so thankful they did. I experienced a whole new aspect of medicine that was intellectually stimulating and rewarding; a world that I never knew before and may have missed out on had I not challenged myself to do something different. Because this was my first time in the lab since college and I hadn’t picked up a pipette since then, it was initially extremely challenging. But I pressed through the uncertainty, the nervousness, the fear, and discovered a new part of me. I thought clinical medicine would give me all that I needed, but thankfully I have discovered another aspect of medicine that creates additional excitement and brings more challenges.
What are your research interests?
I am currently looking at the effects of hypercapnia (high carbon dioxide) on the immune system in the setting of pneumonia. Many pulmonary diseases such as severe COPD, cystic fibrosis, and ARDS are associated with hypercapnia and are often complicated by frequent and severe pulmonary infections. It is unclear at this time if hypercapnia is impairing the immune system making these patients more susceptible to infections or is simply a marker of disease severity. I am using in vitro and in vivo mouse pneumonia models to observe the effects of hypercapnia on neutrophil function in the setting of Pseudomonas aeruginosa pneumonia
Where can we find you after hours?
I enjoy working out either at the LA fitness or with the Wii at home before spending time with my family. I also enjoy Navy Pier, anywhere there’s good pizza, Lalo’s after a long stretch in the ICU, and the lakefront in the summer.
“Flexibility is key in this juggling game of life and medicine; you must learn to multitask well.”