Member Spotlight

Priyanka Bakhtiani, MD

December 05, 2022

Dr. Priyanka Bakhtiani completed her Pediatric Residency at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, and Fellowship in Endocrinology at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. She gained invaluable clinical experience as a faculty member at the University of Louisville, KY. She is presently an Assistant professor of Pediatrics (clinician-educator track) in the division of Pediatric Endocrinology at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). At CHLA, she started a specialty clinic for endocrine issues in childhood cancer survivors. She has a graduate certificate in Health Professions Education. She is an elected member of the Department of Pediatrics DEI consortium at CHLA and manages networking, communications social media for the Pediatric Endocrine Society (PES) and Southern California Organization of Pediatric Endocrinologists (SCOPE). As the secretary for the PES TREND-SIG (Tumor-related Endocrine and Neuroendocrine Disorders Special Interest Group), she helped conceptualize and manages the SIG. She is a senior editor for the journal Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism Case Reports. She enjoys fostering dogs and going on long hikes with her husband. Email: [email protected]

What is your favorite Endocrine Society memory? 

I attended the 2017 ENDO conference in Orlando, Florida as a third-year fellow, and I remember grabbing the front-row seat at all the talks, because I wanted to learn as much as I could before 'having to do it all on my own' as an attending. I still refer to my notes from the excellent talks on topics including Turner syndrome, safety of growth hormone use, endocrine disruptors, Cushing disease, and even oxytocin. That remains one of my favorite meetings so far, not only because of the incredible new perspectives and insights I gained, but also because we got to network with other fellows, attendings and leaders in endocrinology at Disney World! (ENDO gave us discounted tickets). 

Another specific (somewhat embarrassing) memory is trying to explain my bench research in immune-mediated obesity to the person next to me at the T1D fellows’ series in very laymen terms- endocrinologists don't really think about T cells and kinases all the time, right? Well, guess who I was talking to. Yep, Dr. Greenbaum! How my heart sank when she got up on the stage and introduced her work! She was so gracious about it too!

How has Endocrine Society supported your professional development/career journey?

I can summarize this in three words: knowledge, perspective, and networking. 

The incredible opportunities in terms of learning and presenting at the annual conferences have helped me better myself professionally and helped me better take care of my patients. As a fellow, I blogged for an Endocrine Society meeting as part of the Endo Blogger program, which sparked a special interest in social media in the medical profession. Since then, I have been in leadership positions on the networking committees for at least a couple different professional organizations, and currently pursuing research in the same area as well.

What experience led you to the study of the endocrine system?

My first rotation as a pediatric resident was endocrinology, and everything that came after fell short. It is the hormones that had me enraptured. It is difficult to not be, when the very meaning of their Greek origin ‘hormeos’ is ‘to excite’. I find nothing more intriguing than the musical interplay of these chemicals in a precise yet ever-accommodating rhythm to control vital functions of the human body. I am an individual who is inspired by challenges. During residency I felt that endocrinology was often like solving a riddle. The signs are subtle, and the symptoms varied. What appears complicated and inexplicable often has a simple solution; we just need to find it. Only during my fellowship and years as an attending I would discover that the solution is often not that simple, the signs may not be as subtle, and even though we know quite a bit, it is but a drop in the ocean of knowledge that still needs to be found. 

What would you most like to tell yourself at 18?

You are not going to believe the incredible journey you are on!

What is the best thing about what you are working on right now?

I am most passionate about my work as the director of our endocrinology clinic for childhood cancer survivors. I got to conceptualize this clinic from scratch and trying to work on iterations to make it more suitable for our patients. As many as 40-60% of childhood cancer survivors have endocrine late-effects. We also see so many endocrine side effects during cancer therapy or stem cell transplant. However, there are not enough endocrinologists focusing on this unique area. It is such a joy to be able to collaborate with our oncology and TCT colleagues to be able to provide these patients with timely, relevant and multi-disciplinary care. I love making a difference in the lives of this very special population.

If Endocrine Society could add one benefit, what would it be? 

Grants/ awards for innovative clinical and educational endeavors addressing current needs (not just research): While all of us have a scientific mindset, there is diversity in the members in terms of what proportion of their time they spend in research. I definitely agree with research being a priority in terms of funding to allow feasibility, but it would only be fair to extend some support to other domains of medicine/ endocrinology.

How have the various aspects of your identity or background influenced your career?

I am a brown woman from India who speaks with an accent, and still on a visa. As my career trajectory took me gradually westwards (India, New York, Ohio, Kentucky and then California), I have worked in a lot of different healthcare settings and witnessed a gamut of attitudes towards diversity. I have had the opportunity to change the minds of patients who initially didn't want to see me because I was not what they pictured as their doctor. I have learned how to navigate situations where my options are limited because of my background. I am now a member of the DEI consortium at our institution, and actively working on projects to promote inclusivity and equity.

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