Imran S. Khan


I was born in San Jose, California and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. My parents are both immigrants so I was the first in my family to go to college in the United States. I completed my bachelor’s degree in Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley and discovered my passion for immunology and basic science research. I came to UCSF for medical school as part of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) and earned a combined MD/PhD degree. In pursuing a career as a pediatric physician-scientist, I hope to advance our understanding of pediatric disease and improve therapeutic outcomes for children.

Why did I choose UCSF?

I chose to stay at UCSF for residency because it provides the perfect combination of an outstanding clinical training with a thriving research environment. When evaluating research-oriented programs I made sure to look at the outcomes of former residents. I quickly realized that UCSF was one of the few programs that not only allowed physician-scientists to participate in the Accelerated Research Pathway (“fast-tracking”), but actually had several residents who had fast-tracked successfully. I was also impressed by the number of residents/fellows who had gone on to receive Physician-Scientist Development Program (PSDP) Fellowships or K-level NIH awards. The numbers and data were quite compelling and I was inspired to take advantage of these tremendous research opportunities at an institution that still prides itself on its rigorous clinical training.

In addition to academics, I have always loved the diverse nature of the San Francisco Bay Area and everything the city has to offer. I live 10 minutes from Ocean Beach, Land’s End, SF Zoo, Golden Gate Park and Cal Academy of Sciences, all of which are perfect for spending time with my wife and son on my precious days off. I’m also a foodie and constantly searching for great coffee so San Francisco is a wonderful city for both of these endeavors.

How has the Molecular Medicine Pathway influenced my training?

The Molecular Medicine Pathway at UCSF is designed to support physician-scientists across all residency programs at UCSF. Within pediatrics, there is a big emphasis on mentorship and seeking out research advisors. I met early on with my Molecular Medicine advisor and she helped me work through the logistics of fast-tracking and choosing labs for research. Residents in the Molecular Medicine Pathway are also given two protected half-days to attend research seminars every other month where we can hear an established UCSF physician-scientist talk about their research and career path. Some of these seminars have been adapted to grant-writing workshops and networking events. I believe the greatest outcome of this time is the opportunity to meet other residents and fellows who are similarly pursuing academic careers in basic science research. Residency is clinically demanding so it is important to get advice from people who are at various stages of their training.

What will I do after residency?

I am planning to participate in the Accelerated Research Pathway (“fast-tracking”) and apply to Neonatology for fellowship training. My long-term goal is to combine a career as a neonatologist and a physician-scientist and continue basic science research in immunology.

What is it like to be a parent during residency?

Being a parent has been both the most challenging and rewarding aspect of residency training.

I started residency when my son was 6 months old and I’ve never caught up on sleep. But in all honesty given the long hours and busy clinical schedule, my wife is the true superhero of our family who makes this all possible. My wife’s job has more predictable and flexible hours, which allows her to take ownership of all of the time-sensitive responsibilities like daycare pickups/drop-offs and bedtime routines. Although it’s hard being away from my son during the long days and weekends, I’ve learned to truly cherish the time we do have together as a family. Coming home to see him at the end of a long day makes it worth all of the sacrifice, even if it’s just to catch a glimpse of him sleeping.