This is the 2nd in a 3-part blog series featuring Oncofertility Consortium superstar, Laxmi Kondapalli, MD, MSCE. In this post, we focus on her time at the University of Pennsylvania. To read the 1st blog, click here.
Knowing that she wanted to continue to work in fertility preservation and receive superior training, Laxmi only applied to a limited number of reproductive endocrinology (REI) fellowships, one being at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). What better place to graduate onto than Penn where she could remain in the hub of the Consortium while building her skills as a top clinician? According to Laxmi, “Penn was a perfect fit for me because it’s excellent for REI training and the reason why I wanted to go to Penn was because they also have a specialized training program in clinical epidemiology.”
Another significant component of Laxmi’s career path and something pertinent to her decision to go to Penn, was her ability to do research and collaborate with bench scientists. Laxmi says, “I think with my skill set, I’m really a clinician at heart – I would be much better at doing clinical research and patient facing research, and that’s why I chose Penn.” At Penn, she was able to really focus on the clinical aspects of fertility preservation, laying the framework for the well-rounded doctor she was to become.
Laxmi spent 3 years at Penn (2008-2011) getting clinical experience in REI and earning a Masters of Science in Clinical Epidemiology, working with some of the top clinicians in the field. “I worked with [Consortium member] Clarisa Gracia and saw fertility preservation patients with her both in-patient and out patient. I was able to navigate patients and care for them in terms of doing the egg and embryo banking, doing the ovarian transpositions and we also did a fair number of cases of ovarian tissue freezing as well.”
For Laxmi, one of the most significant aspects of her tenure at Penn was the opportunity to do a variety of different things in her field. It was important to her to be trained in ovarian transplantation, as very few clinicians actually know how to do this. During her 2nd yr of fellowship, Laxmi trained with Sherman Silber in St. Louis spending two days in the operating room with him learning his technique for vitrification of ovarian tissue and for transplantation. Laxmi says, “That was a very cool opportunity and why I think that I’m very unique in terms of my background because a lot of people say that they do fertility preservation and they kind of know how to bank eggs and embryos, but I have a much more global perspective about this field, and I’ve had great opportunities to get specialized training and some very high tech, cool things like ovarian transplantation.”
As her time at Penn came to a close mid-2011, Laxmi was on to her next big adventure…