Haris Smailovic is a medical student at the Schulich School of Medicine involved in the Summer Research Training Program (SRTP), under the supervision of Dr. Frank Prato. His research focuses on hybrid PET/MRI imaging using a novel inflammatory PET tracer, 18‑F-FEPPA to diagnose cardiac sarcoidosis without the need for extensive patient preparation (diet, fasting, heparin injection) when 18F-FDG, the current standard of care, is used.
Why did you want to go into medical school? My desire to care for people in need and my interest in research drove me into pursuing medicine. During my undergraduate degree I volunteered as a mealtime assistant at McCormick Nursing Home. There I joined a group of dedicated healthcare professionals who help residents with dementia. It was a gratifying experience to be able to support those struggling with basic activities of daily living and offer companionship. I got to know the residents better over time and listen and appreciate their different perspectives, backgrounds, and outlooks on life. Working with the other support staff, I learned the importance of compassion and cooperation. Although the residents had dementia, I could see the gratitude and kindness on their faces. I know now what has motivated me to go into medical school, it is all these experiences where I was responsible for the health and wellbeing of another person.
What made you want to go into research? Being a doctor is a career of lifelong learning and problem-solving. Research came to mind as a great way to develop analytic and critical thinking skills that will help me better understand disease. I chose to do cardiac research and got involved in the SRTP because I've always been fascinated by the heart and how strongly heart pathologies are linked with physiology. I chose my supervisor because the future of cardiovascular imaging interests me, especially integrative approaches (e.g. PET/MRI, PET/CT) that combine the unique strengths of the separate imaging systems to improve our ability to diagnose disease, advance research, and improve patient care.
What do you like to do in your spare time? Weightlifting has been my favourite sport ever since high school and is an important part of my healthy living plan. I also enjoy playing tennis and soccer in my spare time. My morning workout starts at 6 am before my workday and energizes me for the rest of the day.