Safi Khan, MD- Assistant Professor, WVU School of Medicine
Research is not only about pipettes and test tubes. It is directly connected to critical and independent thinking, creativity and most importantly, discovery. Essentially, all knowledge in every academic discipline came from some sort of research.
Safi Khan, an assistant professor in the West Virginia University School of Medicine, approaches research with the eye of a physician. Adamant about marrying his clinical background to his research interests, he is currently pursuing his master’s degree in clinical and translational science offered by WVU and the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
“During my medical residency, I had the habit of reading up on my patients medical problems utilizing journal articles to improve my knowledge,” Dr. Khan said. “That process allowed me to focus on unsettled medical questions. Accordingly, I used to take the detailed review of the different subjects, which eventually led me to develop expertise in clinical research.”
Dr. Khan credits being a physician for understanding the clinical queries in more depth. Evidently, a solid basis in hypothesis-driven research is what evidence-based medical practice is built upon.
“I learned early on that one size does not fit all,” he said. “Clinical complexities and comorbidity burden drive the management options in different individuals. Taking all these details into account, I shape my research hypotheses.”
Dr. Khan found in translational science a field that bridges gaps between research and clinical implementation. Over the years, Dr. Khan’s research projects touched on a national health problem where West Virginia takes the lead: cardiovascular disease. His major areas of interest include lipid lowering therapies, antiplatelet and anticoagulation therapies. He continues to build his research tool kit to generate robust scientific evidence for different therapeutic options.
“My goal is to provide the evidence map for physicians and patients regarding safety and efficacy of cardiovascular treatment approaches,” Dr. Khan said. “Moving forward, I want to focus on studying the patterns of cardiovascular diseases, outcomes, and health care resource utilization among young adults.”
As a translational researcher, Dr. Khan hopes to do his part in creating a healthier future for people in every corner of the world. His advice for future researchers centers on investing in research foundation. This means finding the right clinical question and relying on the appropriate database and statistical tools to answer that question. He also emphasizes that effective mentorship is key to the success of early stage investigators and attributes it for his academic and professional development.
“When I started my residency, Dr. Edo Kaluski who was my attending at Guthrie Health System-Robert Packer Hospital, taught me the art of approaching the clinical research,” he said. “Later, Dr. Erin D. Michos at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, taught me the art of data presentation and clinical write-up. If you review some of their research work, you can easily pick up the shades of their style in my work.”
Asked about the biggest misconception people have about research, Dr. Khan believes that conflicting observational data has reduced the level of confidence among people. Hence, he asserts that building trust is fundamental.
“As researchers, it’s our responsibility to educate the public about the merits and demerits of a study,” Dr. Khan said. “There is also an obligation to facilitate the interpretation of a research in its true context and promote evidence-based medicine.”
When he’s not working, Dr. Khan enjoys quality time with his family. He is also an avid runner, devoted reader of medical literature and opinion pieces, Sufi music lover, and a cricket enthusiast.