ASTCT asked Tania Jain, M.B.B.S. questions about what it is like to be a woman in the transplantation and cellular therapy field in celebration of Women's History Month, March 2021.
Who inspired you to enter the BMT and cellular therapy field?
While I am early in my career, my short journey thus far has been and continues to be influenced by several phenomenal people in the field who have guided the trajectory of my academic career in different ways. My first mentor was Dr Abhinav Deol at Wayne State University/ Karmanos Cancer Center during residency. I learnt not only the basics of BMT and research studies with him but also how to engage and support early-level trainees with an interest in the field. Subsequently, I was fortunate to work with Dr Jeanne Palmer, Dr Ruben Mesa and Dr Rafael Fonseca at Mayo Clinic Arizona during fellowship, who formally steered my career towards myeloproliferative neoplasms and BMT/ cellular therapy; and again, not just academically but taught me the art and importance of networking and collaboration. The final crowning of my training was at Memorial Sloan Kettering where Dr Miguel-Angel Perales and team, taught us the science of cellular therapy as well as how to be an academic researcher and promote colleagues/ mentees. I continue to be inspired by a lot of phenomenal people I am fortunate to work with and learn from every day including Dr Richard Jones, Dr Amy Dezern and Dr Lukasz Gondek to name a few.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Clinical Research Training Course by ASTCT (strongly recommend to all trainees and junior faculty, by the way) which was an exposure I absolutely needed at that point in my training and kudos to all the wonderful mentors and faculty in the course who share their inspirational journey and experiences.
How do you inspire others?
I have learnt over the years that it is as important to pass things on, and it is just as imperative as to learn myself. When such opportunities do arise, making myself easily and readily available to whoever I can help, guide or mentor is the least I can do. This has allowed me to collaborate with some fantastic people across the globe and across different levels of training; and it becomes a joyous journey of sharing what I know and learning from them.
Having started my journey in Medicine in another country (India), I have seen myself and friends experience several unique challenges as well as opportunities along the way. I have never hesitated to share the frank realities of such a journey; and encourage the young and bright minds on this path to recognize the eventual goal.
What does it mean to you to be a woman in this field?
“A woman, one of color and with a non-immigrant visa in academia” never struck me as being “unique” until recently. A close friend fondly reminds me (in a constructive and inspirational way) of these “three strikes” against me. Nevertheless, I am honored to be one in this wolf-pack. At the same time, I recognize that this representation is infact a responsibility to ensure that “EVERY”one in the times to come gets an equal opportunity irrespective of gender, age, color, language, country of origin/nationality, beliefs, immigration status, and other aspects that make us all beautifully distinct. And truly, this pack glitters with much more radiance when these unique contributions come together.