Featured Student: MadhurBain Singh

Madhur is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics and is pursuing the quantitative genetics concentration. His academic journey so far has taken him all the way from the state of Punjab in India to Oslo, Norway to Richmond, Virginia. He holds a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.B.S.) degree and a master’s degree in International Social and Health Policy.

Madhur shifted from his career as a clinician in India to focus on public health and, later, behavioral genetics. “I have always been interested in statistics and mathematics in general…I’ve always liked biostatistics. I decided – whatever I do, I will make this a part of my career somehow.” During his training in public health, he became interested in psychiatric and genetic epidemiology, an interest that was solidified on a trip to the International Behavioral Genetics workshop in Boulder, Colorado. “I had met so many fantastic people during the workshop…I decided I should apply to work with them.”

When asked what he finds most exciting about his research, Madhur didn’t hesitate at all. “Methodology, for sure.” His first semesters at VCU have certainly reflected a love of statistical methodology. With his first rotation in Dr. Michael Neale’s lab, Madhur focused on cross-lagged Mendelian randomization, a method that leverages genomic data and repeated measures study designs to tease out causal inference in psychiatric phenotypes. He spent his second rotation with Dr. Roseann Peterson, where he helped with the development of an analytic pipeline for a multi-ancestry GWAS of major depression on UK Biobank participants.

Outside of research, Madhur enjoys traveling and exploring new areas. He recalls train trips across Europe as some of his favorite times during his master’s degree, and says he often enjoyed the trips as much as the destinations themselves.

Rounding out our chat was a discussion of one of Madhur’s favorite quotes, an old Sikh phrase and the motto of his grade school: “Serve. Strive. Conquer.” He provided some background, saying “Serve is service – serving other people, serving humanity. Striving is hard work, and ‘conquer’ means success.” From talking with him, it’s clear that Madhur values his research deeply – it’s equally clear that he’s also done a fantastic job embodying those principles in his work and everyday life.


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