Victor Soukoulis, MD, PhD
- Winner of Resident Teaching Excellence Awards
- PhD in cardiac biology from Vanderbilt
- Will start cardiology fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2010
What are your clinical and academic interests?
My academic interests lie in basic science research in the field of cardiology. During residency, however, I undertook a more clinical project with Dr. Mihai Gheorghiade to examine the role of micronutrient supplementation in heart failure. We brought together several key people in the field to publish a consensus review in JACC of the current state of research and what studies are needed in the future to come to more definitive conclusions. I think it is an amazing time for the entire realm of cardiology research.
Whether it be clinical or basic science fields, EP or imaging, there are so many promising research avenues. One of the areas that I think will become more prominent is the role of genetics in cardiovascular disease. Only now are we beginning to understand the power that techniques such as genome wide association studies have in identifying new genes that may play an important role in disease development and progression. The exciting part will be using a basic science approach to determine if these genes are truly relevant, and if so, how exactly they exert their effects (which in turn may lead to new therapies to block these effects). The potential exists to discover entire new pathways of, for example, how atherosclerosis develops.
Tell us more about your background:
I grew up in Ames, Iowa. It was a great city to grow up in as it was small enough to be close to all your friends, but also had Iowa State University providing it with more exciting things to do than a typical town of 50,000. I then went to college and medical school at Vanderbilt in Nashville. I really enjoyed the school and city. Nashville has great weather and expanded rapidly during the many years I was there. The area around the university is now littered with interesting places to eat or just hang out.
Why did you choose Northwestern University?
I picked Northwestern because it was the best fit for me in what I was looking for a residency program. I wanted to train at a program that had friendly residents who worked hard and were successful in their careers but also had lives outside of medicine. I was looking for an institution with faculty who understood the importance of not only treating patients, but also teaching housestaff/students and conducting cutting-edge research. The location of the hospital was a big plus too, as it's hard to beat being in downtown Chicago. And, finally, very specific to me, I wanted the hospital to have as close to a paperless computer system as possible in order to maximize efficiency so that more time could be spent on seeing patients and learning medicine. Northwestern was a fit for all of these criteria.
I would advise prospective applicants to find a program where they feel they fit in with the people, the hospital environment, and the city. There is no one program that is perfect for everyone, but there is no reason everyone shouldn't aim to be at a program that is perfect for them.
What makes a great mentor?
I believe a mentor is not only someone who you look up to as a model for who you want to be in the future, but also a person who is willing to help you achieve that success. Every resident has the opportunity to be a form of mentor for medical students by taking the time to help them be the best they can be. It's always good to think back to when you were a student and what you were really hoping for (and either got or didn't get) from your resident on wards. And you'll often be surprised by how much seemingly little things can really improve the experience of the students.