Sergio E. Chiarella, MD
- Native of Lima, Peru and also spent time living in Italy
- Planning a career in Allergy/Immunology, continuing to combine patient care with basic science research
- Completed four years of research in the labs of Drs. Mutlu and Budinger
- Planned to be an artist and still enjoys painting and visiting the Art Institute
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Tell us a bit about your background. How did you come to Northwestern?
I was born and raised in Lima, Peru and spent some of my formative years living in Italy, which was a lot of fun and culturally enriching. I then went back to Peru to complete high school and was lucky enough to have wonderful teachers who encouraged my curiosity and appreciation for science. I stayed in Lima to attend medical at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, where I also had exceptional research mentors and started my career as a scientist. During my last two years of medical school, I presented some of my research work at the American Thoracic Society meetings, where I had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Sznajder, who invited me to visit Northwestern University and spend a couple of months in the labs of Dr. Budinger and Dr. Mutlu. I enjoyed the experience so much that I decided to come back for another four years as a post-doctoral research fellow. Once again, I worked with outstanding mentors and scientists, experiencing first-hand the Department’s academic excellence. I also trained some second year residents rotating through the lab who consistently praised the program. It was difficult not wanting to stay!
Tell us about your research
Back in Peru, I was part of a research team that studied the health effects of chronic exposure to biomass fuel combustion in underserved agricultural highland communities. This experience was a good introduction to my fellowship research at Northwestern focusing on the mechanisms by which the sympathetic nervous system regulates air pollution-induced thrombosis. Currently, I’m completing the experiments that demonstrate the key importance of alveolar macrophage β2-adrenergic receptors in these pathways.
What is your favorite thing about being a physician? Did you consider any other careers?
Being a physician offers me the opportunity to join patient care and research, which is an intellectually and emotionally fulfilling combination. However, the thing that I love most about Internal Medicine is developing meaningful relationships with patients. Being able to see my research improve patient care one day would be especially rewarding! One of the best aspects of residency has been working with so many high quality residents. They have made the transition from research back to clinical work so easy, and I am extremely grateful for their support. After finishing high school, I seriously considered going to art school. Painting is still one of my passions, and I probably spend more hours in the Art Institute than I should! There is nothing more relaxing than putting some music on and painting for a few hours.
Where can we find you after hours?
My favorite spot by far is the Art Institute of Chicago. Time simply flies when I’m there. Also, The Champions League, La Liga, Serie A and the Premier League are coming to an end, so during the next few months I will be spending more time at Ibérico or Café Ba-ba-Reeba watching some of the final games. In terms of restaurants, my tastes tend to migrate: right now it’s all about Greek food! Pegasus, Athenian Room and Greek Islands are in my top three. Concerts in Millenium Park are a must during the summer months. My friends and family are very important to me, so I try to spend my vacations with them either in Europe or Peru. I also enjoy getting together with friends and watching a soccer game. To unwind, I work out at the gym. Right now, I’m trying to get in shape for the summer soccer season.