Dr. Alexander Kushnir ’06YC received a PhD from Columbia University in 2010 and is working toward an MD from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, expected in 2012. He has been an adjunct professor of biology at Yeshiva College since he was 21 years old (he is currently 26) and has received numerous grants, awards, and fellowships, as well as sponsorship by YU to present his research at conferences in Israel, Scotland, and Canada.
1. What did you do before you joined YU as a faculty member?
I joined the YU faculty as adjunct professor the semester after I graduated YU and started the MD/PhD program at Columbia (fall 2006). Initially, I taught a bio lab for a year but wanted to teach my own courses on cardiac ion channels. Fortunately, Dr. Carl Feit (chair of the biology department) was willing to give me the chance and here we are almost 6 years later. Around 2 years ago, I started teaching an additional course on neuroethics.
2. What is your favorite aspect of your job at YU?
My favorite part is interacting with students who were where I was only a few years ago. I enjoy discussing their options and giving advice about pursuing careers in academic medicine. I love watching faces light up when students understand an interesting topic.
3. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Another profession I would like to try, if not medicine, is the rabbinate. There are many similarities between the two professions: both doctors and rabbis work within confined boundaries of absolute truths, both can really help people, and you can spend your life studying and teaching either one and never finish.
4. What is your goal as a scientist, and what is your goal as a teacher?
As a prospective physician-scientist cardiac electrophysiologist, my goal is to run a clinic that is focused on patients with specific arrhythmias and to then study those arrhythmiaa in the lab. As a teacher, my goal is to inspire students to pursue research training opportunities and to consider careers in academic medicine.
5. What would your current and former YU students be surprised to learn about you?
They might be surprised to know that I love to cook. My favorite dish is spaghetti and meat-sauce with garlic bread loaded with fresh garlic, healthy “margarine”, and parsley. Grilling a good steak is another favorite of mine. The trick with that one is good old fashioned salt and pepper, dash of onion and garlic powder, high temperature grilling.
To experience a taste of the type of research that Dr. Kushnir does, click HERE to see an informative (and entertaining!) video shot by YU’s communications office.