Nishant Ganesh Kumar, who is currently a rising senior in Biomedical Engineering at John Hopkins University, came to study in the United States in the fall of 2009 with the dream of graduating from one of the leading biomedical institutions in the United States. His high school years were spent at The United World College of India, a boarding school that exposed him to fellow students from 60 different countries. Nishant attributes his collaborative outlook and team spirit to the intense interactions in those formative years of his life. Prior to The United World College, Nishant grew up in the Middle Eastern city of Dubai, which he considers a melting pot of creeds and nationalities, where Middle Eastern values mix with those of the rest of the world.
In his junior year at Johns Hopkins University, Nishant was selected to be a Design Team Leader. The Design Team course comprises numerous biomedical projects where student teams work together towards proposing solutions to existing clinical or global health problems. Nishant leads a team of undergraduates that chose to pursue the Punch Biopsy Project that is working on redeveloping the punch biopsy procedure. The team had identified many clinical and procedural problems with the current punch biopsy process in the summer of 2011. After 8 laborious months, the team arrived at a possible solution in addressing the various limitations of the current standard of care. The aim of the project is to make it faster and easier compared to the current standard, and more importantly, the new method is estimated to be about 80% cheaper than the current procedure. After many iterations and a great deal of critical thinking, the team has finally arrived at a working solution. One of the biggest challenges that the team faced involved the small scale that they were working in – the punch biopsy they were redesigning was specifically for 4mm punch tools. This small scale imposed numerous constraints that the team had to carefully consider when proposing solutions to the problem. While currently in a secondary prototype phase, the next steps will involve animal testing and clinical trials and finally commercializing the product. As Nishant puts it, “the whole process has been an exhilarating experience!”
The success of the Punch Biopsy team and their project has been recognized at the NCIIA Open Minds Exhibition 2012 and they, as a team, hope to continue the work with NCIIA and with the faculty at Johns Hopkins University to ensure the project is carried to its logical conclusion.
Nishant attributes his leadership skills to his experiences at The United World College of India. In leading this project his emphasis was on planning, constant communication with advisors (clinicians and faculty), meaningful reviews of action plans and milestones, and most importantly committed team members from the start to the finish of the project. Nishant has worked to ensure that all team members are happy with the work they do, and he’s worked hard to ensure a constant flow of communication amongst all parties working on the project.
Nishant is also involved actively in research in a collaborative setting between Neurology and Biomedical Engineering. His research looks into the properties of axonal regeneration in the context of axonal injury.
Apart from his endeavors in the Biomedical Engineering department, Nishant has been an active member in the Johns Hopkins Jail Tutorial program since his freshman year. As a part of the program, he tutors inmates at the Baltimore City Detention Center. Nishant took the tutoring experience a step further by pioneering a program that incorporates the use of computers to teach the inmates, to ensure they received the most of their tutoring experience. Nishant plans to continue his work on the punch biopsy project and his other pursuits at Johns Hopkins. His current plans are to apply to medical school to become a physician. He hopes to integrate his engineering knowledge with an education at medical school. Apart from clinical endeavors, he hopes to continue his work in device development.