Dr. Sharad Malavade receives 2018 COPH Outstanding Alumni Award

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His practice is global health. His passion is preventing mortality from infectious diseases.

Dr. Sharad Malavade joins a growing list of USF College of Public Health alumni recognized for their exceptional service and dedication to public health. He was one of two alumni honored this year with a COPH Outstanding Alumni Award, presented at the COPH on April 4 as part of a week-long national celebration of public health.

From left: Tom Unnasch, PhD, Sharad Malavade, MBBS, DNB, MPH, PhD and Donna Petersen, ScD, MSH, CPH. (Photo by Torie Doll)

Outstanding alumni are chosen based on the contributions they’ve made to public health in the areas of leadership, research, teaching (scholarship and mentorship to health professionals) and the impact they’ve made on their community and society at large. They are nominated by present and former professors, supervisors and colleagues. To date, 33 alumni have received the award.

“I was like a caterpillar when I entered the COPH,” said Malavade in his award-acceptance speech. “And when I left, I had emerged as something much more impressive.”

Malavade’s interest in public health began in India, where he was raised. He received his medical training at the University of Mumbai and worked in the country’s rural areas as an ophthalmologist.

“That work left a lasting impression on me,” said Malavade. “I saw a child die of malaria and a woman die of typhoid. These were avoidable deaths. We have all the antibiotics we need to fight these infections, but the people I saw needed better and earlier access to care.”

Dr. Malavade performing eye exam in India. (Photo courtesy of Malavade)

It was this “wasteful loss of life” that inspired Malavade to train as a public health specialist in global health communicable diseases.

Malavade graduated from the USF COPH in 2010, receiving his MPH in global health. He followed up with his doctorate in 2015. In his years at USF he worked as a teaching assistant, graduate research assistant and instructor. He studied the re-emergence of measles in Ecuador, examined risk factors for the transmission of helminths (parasitic worms) in Central America and the use of urea as a sanitizing agent in solar toilets in El Salvador. He took part in the Peer Mentor program, was a volunteer with the annual COPH flu shot drive and even served as president of the USF Badminton Club.

“Sharad was one of the most capable, intelligent and imaginative students I have encountered during my 30 years as a principal investigator,” wrote Dr. Thomas Unnasch, global health department chair and a distinguished USF Health professor, in recommending Malavade for the award.

“My time at the COPH was one of the most professionally and personally enriching periods of my life,” added Malavade, who is now a third-year resident in internal medicine and chief resident of research at Brandon Regional Hospital in Brandon, Fla. “It was formative to my professional development, and the exposure I had was unparalleled in terms of the education and research experience I gained.”

It’s that zeal for research that allowed Malavade to create a name for himself at USF–and beyond.

Dr. Malavade at his USF COPH graduation. (Photo courtesy of Malavade)

In addition to taking care of patients in and out of the hospital, Malavade, in his role as chief resident of research, spends much of his time training other residents in how to conduct high-level scientific studies. He organizes a monthly lecture series for residents on how to come up with a research hypothesis, do a literature search, design a study and interpret the results. “Patients trust us to read studies and make the appropriate recommendations,” he commented. “If we accept flawed studies, then we are doing patients a disservice.”

To highlight the research of his fellow residents, last year Malavade organized Brandon Regional’s first-ever Resident Research Day, fashioned after the annual USF Health Research Day. Forty residents participated and 25 posters were presented.

“The only reason I could carry this out was because I was trained at USF in how to initiate and plan a study and then present its results. When you can better educate the professional, then the better care a professional can give. And that impacts public health.”

In July Malavade, who plans a career as a physician/researcher, will begin a fellowship in infectious diseases at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University. “I want to continue doing meaningful research that can bring down the prevalence of infectious diseases and possibly even eliminate them on a global scale. I want to continue doing the research which I was trained for at USF.”

Alumni Fast Five
What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?
A physician

Where could we find you on the weekend?
Spending time with my family. (Malavade and his wife, USF COPH doctoral student Malinee Neelamegam, recently welcomed their first child, a baby boy, to the family.)

What was the last book you read?
“Grieving Dads,” by Kelly Farley

What superpower would you like to have?
To clone myself and multitask

What was your all-time favorite movie?
“Shawshank Redemption”

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Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health