Originally from a small town in Madhya Pradesh, India, Dr. Shitaldas Pamnani completed his bachelor of medicine, bachelor of surgery (MBBS degree) in Surat, India, in 2008, before moving stateside to earn his MPH in 2011.
While pursuing his master’s degree, his advisors motivated him to go for his PhD in epidemiology, which is when he made the decision to apply to USF College of Public Health in 2012.
As a student, Pamnani received the Sam Bell Endowed Scholarship in 2014, USF Health Research Day 2014 Outstanding Poster Presentation Award and an honorary mention for the Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Pamnani was also the founder, and first president, of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Student Association.
While hitting the books, Pamnani worked as a research assistant alongside Dr. Anna Guiliano at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center on the Human Papillomavirus Infection in Men (HIM) study project for data analysis, literature, manuscript writing and publication, which kept him close to what he was passionate about—HPV research.
“Dr. Giuliano is the best mentor I could ever imagine,” Pamnani said. “It was my pleasure to work with such an excellent researcher and a wonderful human being.”
However, Dr. Giuliano is not the only standout from Pamnani’s time at COPH.
He also drew inspiration from the work of COPH faculty, specifically Drs. Amy Borenstein and James A. Mortimer, both professor emeritus faculty members from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
“Dr. Borenstein’s and Dr. Mortimer’s publications and work on Alzheimer’s disease motivated me to apply for PhD at USF,” said Pamnani. “We have many international students at USF, and their sincere efforts to pursue their educational goals, despite the challenges, is really inspirational.”
After graduation this May, Pamnani will join the staff at Brandon Regional Hospital as a resident physician.
When he’s not studying, Pamnani said he likes to spend his time on outdoor adventures like hiking or kayaking, or enjoying home-cooked food by his wife, Dhaani.
Pamnani self-proclaims as a “big time foodie.”
While he says financial challenges were the biggest hurdle during his time with COPH, Pamnani said he faced another daunting challenge as an international student.
“Many people don’t realize how much we have to give up,” he said. “We leave behind our family, culture, food, the comfort of being at home and much more.”
Thankfully, when it comes to pushing through, Pamnani has a fool-proof motto to keep him plowing through the research.
“Just keep swimming,” he said. “Work hard, never quit.”
When asked to look back on his time with COPH, some of his favorite memories are of when he had the opportunity to defend his dissertation, and receive kind feedback from the faculty and his peers.
“Two of the articles from my dissertation were invited for oral presentation at the International Papillomavirus Conference in Portugal, Lisbon, in September 2015,” said Pamnani.
Clearly, for someone with a love of travel, being able to tie in his love of research with his passion for HPV research—this was a dream come true!
One thing is for certain, if Pamnani continues to apply the same motto from his education to his professional career, nothing can prevent him from “swimming” to new heights.
Story by Shelby Bourgeois, USF College of Public Health