UMKC bioinformatics degree propels Mir to prominent fellowship

Fahad Faisal Mir, M.D., says earning a master’s degree in bioinformatics at the UMKC School of Medicine helped him land a fellowship in advanced endoscopy at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Three years ago, Fahad Faisal Mir, M.D., decided to follow his internal medicine residency at the UMKC School of Medicine and Truman Medical Center with a three-year fellowship in gastroenterology. He didn’t stop there.

When Mir completes his fellowship in May, he will also graduate from the School of Medicine’s Master of Science in Bioinformatics program with an emphasis in clinical research.

It’s an added touch that he believes gave him the advantage in landing a one-year fellowship in advanced endoscopy at the prestigious Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston beginning in July.

“Programs like these, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, they’re looking for people who are good at what they do clinically,” Faisal said. “But they’re also looking for someone who has an extra edge, and I think having this degree and background gave me that extra edge that I needed.”

His experience in the bioinformatics program has helped Mir to look at research projects and their results with a more critical eye. He is confident that will help him become a better physician going forward.

“Physicians who aren’t trained in bioinformatics or biostatistics read research differently,” he said. “They’re looking at the results, the conclusion and the applicability. I feel like I can look at the research methods that were used and see how the study was done; what populations it was done on; does it apply to the patients I see; are the results accurate in what they’re describing?”

The research training worked hand in hand with his gastroenterology fellowship.

“Our bioinformatics program is structured very well,” Mir said. “I did it over three years. They worked with me to where I could do classes online as much as possible and do group discussions. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much by not physically going to classes.”

Mir said he was able to incorporate the gastroenterology research studies he worked on throughout his fellowship into his work in the bioinformatics program. That research training, Mir said, has given him the confidence to design his own studies. He has designed and worked on three randomized control trials, two multi-center trials, and several other retrospective studies during the past year.

And that has him thinking to the future of returning to his native country to begin his own research program. Mir came to Kansas City six years ago for post-graduate medical training after earning his medical degree in Pakistan.

“I want to start a research institute there and I think this is going to help form a foundation for that,” he said. “There is a need for medical research in Pakistan. If I can go into an established system that doesn’t have a really well established research arm, I can start doing high-quality research and be known for that. I’m at the early stages of that now.”