Pranav Bhimani was always interested in the biomedical sciences but was unsure of whether medical school was the right path for him. During his undergraduate experience at the University of California, Berkeley, however, he took a data science class where he was quickly intrigued by the process of programming a computer to help diagnose chronic kidney disease. The class shifted his understanding of how he could pursue a career in biomedical sciences, and he pursued a bachelor’s in data science with a focus on molecular biology. As part of the MS in Biostatistics and Data Science program at Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM), Pranav continued to gain insight into the use of biomedical data.
“A lot of master’s programs are specifically focused on health data science or quantitative bio sciences,” he explained. “The emphasis on biostatistics, and its application to data science [offered at WCM] is what I really wanted. Also, I’m from NYC, so it’s nice to be back and engage with the research in my home city.”
With his undergraduate experience being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pranav was also eager to attend an in-person program. He started his master’s at WCM in 2022. He experienced some initial challenges with the workload, but believes the pacing has long-term advantages.
“If you don’t have daily practice in mathematics and statistics, it will not stay with you moving forward,” he said. “The semesters move quickly, and you sometimes worry about whether you’ve retained everything. But when job interviews come around, you’re able to keep up. It’s cool to see all our classwork in action.”
Pranav specifically enjoyed the Big Data in Medicine course taught by Dr. Samprit Banerjee, associate professor of population health sciences. This course features modules on administrative databases in healthcare and genetics and genomics, taught by Dr. Oleksandr Savenkov, assistant professor of population health sciences, and Dr. Davide Risso, adjunct assistant professor of population health sciences, respectively. Pranav finds these modules have provided exposure to a range of biomedical data and allowed him to better understand or identify problems with it.
He also enjoyed the Artificial Intelligence in Medicine course taught by Dr. Fei Wang, associate professor of population health sciences. There, he learned how to give simplified presentations on subjects like decision trees or machine learning to unfamiliar audiences. He hopes that as AI continues to play a role in healthcare, he can serve as a bridge between those who are knowledgeable about that role, and those who are new to it.
An unexpected highlight from Pranav’s time in the program is the opportunities he experienced outside of the classroom. He is currently part of the Anita Mesi General Internal Medicine Summer Internship Program, which he learned about by connecting with a fellow student who works in the division of general internal medicine at WCM. He also joined the Tri-Institutional Consulting Club, which provides workshops for students looking to pursue consulting.
“Being exposed to aspects of the healthcare industry that you can potentially focus on outside of the program was really valuable,” said Pranav. He appreciates that students within the cohort come from different backgrounds and career paths, and he has enjoyed learning about how they aim to support the healthcare industry, whether in the US or their home countries. Some of his best memories come from completing homework assignments alongside fellow students in a study lounge on campus and understanding that they share in and can tackle particular challenges together.
In his long-term career, Pranav hopes to be a leader in health technology as well as pharmaceutical development. This fall, he will join a life sciences consulting firm as a data analyst.
“Don’t be afraid to take every opportunity,” he advised. “Get that ‘no’ out of your dictionary, as long as you can balance the work you’re doing. Some of the material is pretty difficult, but don’t be afraid to ask questions. Take everything with a sense of confidence and excitement, instead of fear.”