Dr. Ami Gupta is young, bright and totally dedicated to making the patient experience a positive one.
At a glance
• Current status: Dr. Ami Gupta is halfway through the first year of a two-year clinical movement disorders fellowship at the Morton and Gloria Shulman Movement Disorders Centre at Toronto Western Hospital.
• Fast Facts: He has a medical degree from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and a PhD in neurosciences from Harvard University. He recently completed his neurology residency at Johns Hopkins University.
• Achievements: He was awarded the Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Clinical Movement Disorders Fellowship in November 2008 through Parkinson Society Canada’s National Research Program.
• Quick quote: “The difference between a physician-scientist and a family doctor is that the physician-scientist not only thinks about issues that affect patients but also follows that up with research.”
Dr. Ami Gupta’s love of mysteries and keen appreciation of “the beauty of the brain” make him ideally suited to studying and treating movement disorders.
Dr. Gupta, 38, is a physician at the Movement Disorders Centre in Toronto, where he is developing specialized expertise in diagnosing and treating movement disorders, under the supervision of Dr. Anthony Lang.
He is also a scientist with a background in basic science research conducted in the lab.
Now, he is adding clinical research to his portfolio, embarking on two research projects: one, looking at MRI-supported diagnosis in Multiple System Atrophy (MSA); the other, investigating cognition problems also in MSA, which is a disorder similar to Parkinson’s disease. It’s part of his bid to gain a deeper understanding of movement disorders and develop better ways to treat them.
In the few short months, since he began seeing patients at the Movement Disorders Centre, two days a week, Dr. Gupta has been surprised to learn that many of his Parkinson’s patients find their non-motor symptoms to be the most troublesome. “People tell me, ‘doctor, if you could help improve my sleep and my thinking that would be so much more potent than making me a little bit faster.’”
It’s an insight he may never have picked up had he continued working solely in the lab. His one-on-one relationship with patients has opened his eyes to new research possibilities.
“My perspective has become, what can I do to translate the knowledge I gain from research into something that can help Mr. or Mrs. Smith?”
When his clinical fellowship ends in June 2010, Dr. Gupta expects to carve out a career of continuing to provide excellent patient care. He’s just not sure yet whether he will combine his physician duties with clinical research or basic research.
Whatever his decision, it can only work to the benefit of his patients because, by then, he will have had the advantage of seeing what movement disorders look like in day-to-day life and he will have a vested interest in addressing the kinds of research questions that people with the lived experience of movement disorders want to have answered.
“Having trained in neurology and neuroscience, and worked at the interface of science and patient care, I will actually be able to do research based on what I have observed in the clinic.”