The Best of Both Worlds: Chandra Shekhar Bakshi, DVM, Ph.D., Lives His Passion for Research and Teaching
Dr. Bakshi has dedicated years to researching dangerous pathogens and enjoys sharing his expertise with NYMC students.
Chandra Shekhar Bakshi, DVM, Ph.D., associate professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology, began his career studying veterinary medicine because of his love of animals, but soon became involved in bacteriology research, developing a passion for it. The only thing that rivals his interest in those two subject matters is being able to spread his knowledge and experience to students.
Raised in Bhopal, India, Dr. Bakshi did not know where his studies and career would take him on. He initially earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and master’s degree in veterinary science from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute. He decided to further his education in the field, but this time with a more narrowed focus, earning his Ph.D. in bacteriology from the Institute. His first big move came when he completed his post-doctoral training at the Institute for Animal Health in the United Kingdom and then eventually coming to the United States for post-doctoral training at Albany Medical College in New York, where he eventually became an assistant professor.
Dr. Bakshi took an interest in zoonotic diseases, or diseases that can be transmitted between humans and animals—specifically Tularemia. Tularemia is a disease, also known as rabbit fever, caused by the highly virulent bacterium Francisella tularensis. It can affect various organ systems in humans and was weaponized in the 1past. For years, Dr. Bakshi has worked to create therapeutics and vaccines to prevent adverse effects of the disease. Dr. Bakshi has received numerous grants for his research, most recently receiving a two-year $445,834 grant for "Advancement of a Mucosal Subunit Vaccine in an Outbred Model of Respiratory Tularemia" from the National Institutes of Health in 2020.
“I’ve always been fascinated how these pathogens are so smart and how they subvert immune responses,” Dr. Bakshi said. “Unless you know the basic mechanism of how a pathogen is causing a disease, you cannot make a vaccine or therapeutic."
It was this principle of thought that helped develop treatments for COVID-19 at a time when there was little known about how exactly the virus affected the human body, Dr. Bakshi said. “We didn’t know how the COVID-19 virus entered the cell until the spike protein was identified. Now we can target the spike protein [to develop vaccines].”
Although he is devoted to his research, Dr. Bakshi is equally passionate about teaching, which he has done at NYMC since 2010. He believes it also provides an opportunity to learn himself. “You learn more when you teach someone. You can expect questions from every single aspect,” Dr. Bakshi said.
Dr. Bakshi credits NYMC students for always asking intelligent questions and being up to date with research in their study area, whether it be microbiology or virology. “I have to be up to date with the field. A student could talk about a paper that came out that morning, so it keeps me on my toes,” Dr. Bakshi said.
Being a professor also helps Dr. Bakshi in the laboratory as well, he says, as it often allows him to take a different viewpoint when conducting his research and on microbiology as a whole. “With research you are working on a narrow area, teaching gives you a broad perspective.”
Dr. Baskhi gets the best of both worlds at NYMC, where he is able to conduct vital research while extending his enthusiasm to students who push him to be at the top of his game. “Teaching is my passion and I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to mentor students,” he said.