Anum Minhas, MD
She helped to create the first cardio-obstetrics clinic of its kind at her institution and looks forward to a career in academia.
Anum Minhas, MD, is a fourth-year cardiovascular disease fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Baltimore, MD), where she is currently pursuing a Master of Health Science in cardiovascular and clinical epidemiology as well as a fellowship in cardio-obstetrics. She was educated at Duke University (Durham, NC), and completed her training in internal medicine at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI). She also worked at the University of Cincinnati VA Hospital as internal medicine faculty for 1 year. Minhas plans to be a clinician scientist, researcher, and leader in women's cardiovascular health, and intends to pursue a career in academia.
Having more than a dozen peer-reviewed publications is impressive: do you have any specific research goals at this point?
The overall goal is to work toward meaningful research that can affect patient care. In the short term, I have a few different projects I'm hoping to get done in the next 2 years and to complete my master’s training. And then, hopefully to transition to faculty.
What has surprised you most about becoming the cardiologist you are today?
Cardiologists have a very unique interface with patients. We see them at their absolute sickest when they are in an intensive care unit. But as opposed to some other areas, it's a unique field in that often you can make patients better very quickly. Experiencing it firsthand is very satisfying. Conversely, when you see patients in the outpatient setting, it can take years to really see a meaningful difference, for example, if you're working with somebody to lose weight or exercise regularly. So, it's very special in that you form long-term bonds with patients in the outpatient setting but you also hopefully provide quick, rapid improvement in care and achieve satisfaction from the patient. And the interesting pathophysiology of heart disease is unparalleled. I am excited to see what is in store in the future and couldn’t be happier to have chosen this field.
What is driving you to pursue a career path in cardio-obstetrics?
As a young woman, I can obviously relate well to other young women. And for a long time, especially in research, there wasn't as much of a focus on diseases that could affect women. So, it's actually a pretty new field and it's exciting because there is a lot to learn. Maternal mortality is highest in the United States out of any developed country, and while there is high risk for women with adverse pregnancy outcomes for heart disease in the future, we don't really know how to treat them. There's recently been a lot more research, but this is not a field that has decades and decades of research behind it. The novelty makes discovery very intellectually appealing. I also find that I often relate to my patients on a personal level. Not only do we discuss what it means to be a patient and have heart disease, but we can also talk about the struggles of new motherhood. I am looking forward to hopefully contributing and bettering our patients’ care.
How do you see this particular field changing in the next 5 years?
I think more cardiologists will become familiar with it as well as more internists, obstetricians, and family medicine practitioners. There will be increasing awareness of diseases that can affect women, in particular young women, such as those related to pregnancy. But I also think that there will be a burgeoning of research in this area. And clinically, more guidance on how to manage these long-term effects and how to better risk-stratify patients that have adverse outcomes.
When you look back on your career to date, who would you say has had the biggest impact on it?
I would say my current fellowship program director, Dr. Steven Schulman. He's allowed and found a way for me to do what I want and made it work. For example, he was the person who went with me to the head of obstetrics to help me create a combined clinic with high risk obstetrics and cardiology, which we did not have previously at our institution. More recently, he has encouraged and sponsored me in developing my own subspecialty training in cardio-obstetrics, something that is completely new not just for our institution but also nationally. He's been extremely supportive and has found a way to make any goal happen—no dream is too big. Additionally, my mentors Drs. Allison Hays and Erin Michos at Johns Hopkins have been instrumental in forming my career.
Perhaps the earliest, most influential person in my career, though, was my mentor from college. I was in a research program at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for about 2 years, and this was my first exposure to research. My mentor at the time encouraged me to present my work nationally and taught me key public speaking skills; she even tied my hands behind my back at one point so I wouldn't flail them excessively when I was presenting! Everything in research was so new for me at that time, but working with her was inspirational and I will always be grateful for her patience and guidance.
What are you most looking forward to after you finish your training?
I actually have really, really enjoyed my training. I can't say that I'm in a huge rush to have it be over right away. I am most looking forward to continuing to have my own independent projects. As a fellow, you work very closely with a mentor as you start to develop some independence and work on your own research and come up with your projects. But when you're faculty, you have a little more independence to be creative.
What is something that people might not know about you?
I have always enjoyed art—drawing and painting. I used to draw comic series, mirrored after Archie comics in grade school. I also took art history during college at Oxford University in England. More recently, I have been working on drawing creative anatomic hearts.
What her nominator Erin Michos, MD (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD), says:
Dr. Minhas is a highly talented rising star and clinical investigator who will be a future leader in women’s cardiovascular health. As a cardiology fellow, she created a unique clinic experience where she sees patients with high-risk pregnancies due to cardiovascular or congenital heart disease for cardiology consultation directly in the OB-GYN suite, in conjunction with their obstetrics and/or maternal fetal medicine (MFM) visit. This collaboration, driven by Dr. Minhas' initiative, has been a highly successful collaboration between cardiology and OB-GYN, and has substantially improved care through this coordinated consultation. Additionally, for her fourth year of fellowship, Dr. Minhas has designed (with approval from her fellowship program director) a dedicated women's cardiovascular health fellowship year, where she will have rotations through OB-GYN, MFM, and other women's health clinics along with formal didactics/workshops in this area. She will be the first cardiology fellow at our institution to complete a dedicated fellowship in women's cardiovascular health. Dr. Minhas' research has focused on endothelial dysfunction, noninvasive imaging, and biomarkers associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes (ie, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes). She has been very productive during her fellowship: she has a number of first-author manuscripts published or in progress or submitted. Additionally, as a fellow, she obtained independent funding ($75,000) from AMAG Pharmaceuticals for a research grant for her project entitled “Preeclampsia: A Harbinger of Future Cardiovascular Disease?” This was a very impressive feat for a cardiology fellow to already achieve their own independent funding. As another example of her leadership skills, she is also the chair of the clinical fellows committee across all of Johns Hopkins University, a group that leads fellow-driven initiatives at our institution. She is also completing a Master in Health Science degree in cardiovascular epidemiology, to be completed in May 2021. In sum, Dr. Minhas is a star on track to be a leading clinician and cardiovascular clinical investigator. Her interest in cardio-obstetrics and women’s health likely will help shape the future of academic medicine and the care of women patients.
*To nominate a stellar cardiology fellow for the Featured Fellow section of TCTMD’s Fellows Forum, click here.