For Physician-Scientist Couple, Success is in Balance

When people ask — and they do ask — where Deepali Kumar and Atul Humar’s clinical and research interests diverge, the two scientists answer patiently. Both physician-scientists at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, Deepali and Atul are a couple, and both are specialists in transplant infectious diseases. “My interest is in herpes viruses in transplant patients,” Atul says. “And my main interest is in vaccines and improving vaccine responses in transplant patients,” Deepali says.

Instead of focusing on the differences between them, Deepali and Atul embrace the similarities. They can cover each other’s patients, deal interchangeably with administrative issues, even manage each other’s research projects when necessary. The flexible arrangement allows them to spend as much time as they can with their three children, ages 4, 6, and 8. They think they are the only couple in the world working together on transplant-related infectious diseases. And working together, they say, is their unique strength as physicians and researchers. “Working together is really synergistic,” says Deepali, who is 37. “It’s really the collaboration that produces good science.”

Published on Science Careers, Feb. 26, 2010. Read the whole story here.