March 21, 2010

Graduation and Retirement Don’t Stop This Team

Long after conducting research together at Lafayette, Aditya Reddy ’96 and Prof. Bernard Fried are still collaborating

By Samuel T. Clover ’91

Even though Aditya Reddy ’96 knew he wanted to study medicine years before coming to Lafayette, once he arrived on campus he decided to double major in Spanish and anthropology/sociology — not your typical pre-med program.

“I wanted something to give me a high GPA,” he jokes.

Nevertheless, Reddy managed to squeeze in the science prerequisites for medical school, which included a sophomore histology course — studying the microscopic structure of animal and plant tissues — with Professor Bernard Fried. The class was the beginning of a research relationship that has lasted for almost two decades.

The most recent of their 25 jointly published papers, which appeared in Parasitology Research, examines the relationship of parasitic worms, or helminthes, to the amelioration of Crohn’s Disease. This chronic condition, which affects some two million people in developed countries, causes the body’s immune system to attack the intestinal tract. In a way, the study is a continuation of the duo’s first paper, which also explored parasites. Back then Fried had asked Reddy, an inexperienced undergraduate, to prepare the first draft.

“That was very scary for me to write up, because Bernie gave me the summer to do it and I thought, ‘My God, I’ve never done this before!’” Reddy says. “I really procrastinated, but eventually we did wrap it up. We finished another one this year looking at a parasite that causes human cancers. We just submitted that as a review to a journal called Cancer Letters. My writing and confidence have come a long way.”

Though lab work can be long and arduous — one time at Lafayette Reddy brought in an air mattress because he had to check an experiment every four hours through the night — it does have lighter moments. He recalls one day when he and his bench mates turned on the local pop radio station to while away the hours, and the music played havoc with Fried’s hearing aid.

“That drove him crazy, so we had to turn it down,” Reddy says.

These days, the two men don’t see each other much since Reddy lives in Connecticut and Fried retired in 2000 — though Lafayette’s Kreider Professor Emeritus of Biology still works with undergraduates on campus almost every day. Instead, when an editor contacts Fried with an idea, the doctors email each other as they work through the process. It’s something Reddy is used to doing with his mentor, whom he feels he connected with because of Lafayette’s intimate atmosphere and dedication to teaching.

“Lafayette is terrific because we usually had small classes, and I don’t think I would have had this close mentorship if I had been at a larger institution,” he says. “I even did an independent study in English with Professor Laura Walls, and was an EXCEL Scholar through the English department because I wanted to improve my writing. I actually love all that English stuff more than I do the sciences, in some ways.”

As it turned out, the English classes seem to have helped Reddy in his career as much as his pre-med studies. After graduating from the University of Saint Eustatius School of Medicine in the Caribbean’s Netherlands Antilles, and doing hospital rounds in Washington, D.C., Reddy got a job at a medical publisher in Pennsylvania. For the last two years, he’s been overseeing medical writing at Pfizer and in 2008 he entered an MBA program at the University of New Haven. He wasn’t sure he should go at first, so as part of his discernment process he contacted his old teacher.

“I found I didn’t know much about business, economics, and corporate finance, so I asked Bernie what he thought, and he said, ‘go for it,’” Reddy says. “Hopefully I’ll be done at the end of June.”

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