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Dr. Karan Dixit, neuro-oncologist and medical educator

We’re delighted to introduce this month’s Featured Contributor, Karan S Dixit MD, MedLink Neurology author of Meningiomas and Primary CNS lymphoma. Dr. Dixit is Assistant Professor of Neurology (Neuro-oncology) and Neurology (Hospital Neurology) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. His clinical interests include primary brain and spinal cord tumors and neurologic complications from cancer and its associated treatment, with a specific interest in low-grade glioma, central nervous system lymphoma, and understanding the relationship between neurocognitive decline and longitudinal changes in structural and functional neural connectivity. Dr. Dixit is a particularly active neurology educator whose career has incorporated a strong focus on medical education.

Dr. Dixit's Feinberg School of Medicine bio

Q & A

What or who motivated you to pursue a clinical or scientific career? How did you get interested in neurology and your subspecialty?

I became interested in neurology because of the rapidly advancing nature of the field. It felt like we were at the precipice of significant improvements in managing neurological diseases. Through my clinical years, I connected most with patients with cancers of the nervous systems and their caregivers, and I wanted to be involved in a field with complex medical issues and work closely with a multidisciplinary team.

How did your own educational experiences lead you to the current point in your career?

During medical school, I became interested in neurology because the logic behind the nervous system appealed to the way I approach problems. I’ve always been interested in caring for patients with complex medical issues as part of a multidisciplinary team, which led me to initially consider neuro-intensive care; however, I favored a more longitudinal approach to patient care, leading me towards neuro-oncology. There are also significant advances to be made in many different aspects of neuro-oncology, which also greatly appealed to me.

How did your interest in medical education first develop?

I’ve had an interest in education in general since childhood, which I attribute to a combination of my upbringing and the fact that my father was a college professor. Throughout high school, college, and medical school, I’ve always dedicated time to tutoring and educating at some level. Teaching medical students was a natural extension of my interests and one of the primary reasons I have wanted to remain in academic medicine.

How do you see your clinical expertise in neuro-oncology meshing with your efforts in neuroscience education?

Neuro-oncology can be seen as a microcosm of neurology. Admittedly, the bulk of what we see are central nervous system diseases with brain and spinal cord tumors, but we still have to be aware of all other aspects of neurology, ranging from vascular neurology and autoimmune neurology to peripheral nerve neurology, as our patients can have these kinds of complications. We also work closely with all other collaborating fields, such as neurosurgery, neuroradiology, neuropathology, and medical oncology, which gives us a broader depth of understanding about how they work. I feel these close interactions with all other fields allow me to educate our students in a broader multidisciplinary fashion rather than with a narrow focus purely on central nervous tumors.

As neurology clerkship co-director, what are some key themes or concepts you hope your trainees master by the end of the clerkship?

The main concept I hope all of our trainees master is to be able to localize neurologic symptoms to basic general areas (central vs. peripheral), identify acute neurologic symptoms (stroke signs, elevated ICP, etc.), and perform a reliable and accurate screening neurological exam despite whichever field of medicine they choose to pursue.

What qualities in future trainees are you looking for in your role as neuro-oncology fellowship director?

A true passion for neuro-oncology is the one of the primary qualities of a prospective candidate. Just as importantly, clinical acumen demonstrated by a strong knowledge base, clinical efficiency, affability, and a desire to learn are just as important. Prior clinical or lab research is helpful but less important.

Questions or Comment?

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