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How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career?
An unexpected encounter with a professor inspired Jignesh Shah to earn his PhD in biomedical engineering in 2008 from University of Texas, Austin. Shah was finishing his master’s degree in electrical engineering and planning to find work when he ran into Professor Stas Emelianov in an elevator. The two chatted and Emelianov offered him a job in his lab over the summer, which later led Shah to pursue his doctorate.
Emelianov was setting up a lab from scratch.
“It was an exciting time to be at the start of something. Dr. Emelianov was literally researching what type of equipment to buy for his lab when I joined,” said Shah.
Tell us about your research?
Emelianov was interested in photoacoustic and ultrasound imaging. After doing a lot of groundwork on ultrasound knowledge, Shah and four fellow students were up to speed and began experimenting with lasers.
“We collaborated with Dr. Thomas Milner and Dr. Kostia Sokolov, measuring temperature using ultrasound and photoacoustics for cancer therapy,” Shah said, “By shining a laser light on particles we were able to treat cancer.”
Shah felt that he learned a lot by collaborating with multiple professors and students from different labs.
“We collaborated with Dr. Sokolov to use the right particles for our experiments and with Dr. Milner’s for lasers,” Shah says. “Dr. Emelianov had the right imaging and photoacoustic imaging technology and by working together and having good mentorship from all the professors, I learned so much.”
Shah spent four years doing his doctoral research.
“When I left, Stas’ lab had grown substantially. I saw it grow from the beginning, and I was there to be able to mentor newer students and see the growth, expand and move into new space with the construction of the BME Building,” he said.
Shah reminisces on his time spent on the 40 acres, recalling going out to the intramural fields north of campus to throw around a frisbee or play soccer. He misses all the good Tex-Mex places like Trudy’s and Chuy’s, as well as all the local coffee shops around Austin. He says the live music isn’t something you can get everywhere.
What do you do now?
Shah currently lives in Sunnyvale, California with his wife and 17-month baby boy Ronav. He works for Medtronic as a Principal engineer. He is currently working on therapy called renal denervation, which consists of blood pressure reduction for extreme hypertension patients. Patients that are taking up to four or five drugs that still have high blood pressure can reverse the effects through renal denervation. Shah manages all components to this project, including algorithm development, overseeing and understanding the mechanical aspects, the user interface, and the industrial design.
“The way an industrial designer visualizes is completely different than the way I visualize as an engineer,” Shah said.
He hopes that once the device is finished, it will help to improve future generations, and be made into a low cost version for other parts of the world.