“From Basic Science to Clinical Medicine” – Meet Dr. Shari Gelber

Host Dr. Fox introduces Dr. Shari Gelber, who explains how her research background and earning both an MD and PhD help her to think differently about maternal fetal medicine. They also discuss ongoing training and education, translational medicine, and healthy cooking strategies.

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Dr. Shari Gelber is an OB/GYN with Maternal Fetal Medicine Associates in New York City. She is also native New Yorker who was born at Mount Sinai, so “I’ve returned to my roots.” She and Dr. Fox discuss her extensive education, how it influences her practice, and her interests outside of medicine.  

PhD and MD 

Dr. Gelber completed both a PhD and MD, unlike a majority of medical doctors. She explains that “when I was in college, I really couldn’t decide whether I wanted to be a full-time doctor or do biological research,” so she completed both degrees “basically out of indecision.” However, this dual background allows her to “think differently” about medicine.  

Dr. Gelber’s PhD is in neurobiology and behavior. Initially, she thought she would be a pediatric neurobiologist, but loved her clinical rotation in obstetrics. She explains that “the brain was exciting, but the problem with the field at the time…was that everything was sort of static.” In comparison, Dr. Gelber found that she was more interested in a specialty where she would do more treatment as well as diagnosing, and says that “when I was a medical student at Columbia, there was a very high volume of prematurity and very sick patients.”  

Dr. Gelber was also interested and surprised to find that after two years away from studying medicine, much of the information had changed. Dr. Fox adds that as a physician, “there’s truly no end to your training.” Finally, during her Maternal Fetal Medicine fellowship, Dr. Gelber once again leaned on her PhD training as she did more research and “basic science.”

Research & Medicine 

While interest in treating patients drew her to medicine, Dr. Gelber explains that being curious and research-oriented serves her well, especially in Maternal Fetal Medicine, with many patients who have uncommon or severe health concerns. Dr. Fox explains that “we run into so many situations and unique circumstances, that there really isn’t an answer,” and that to determine a treatment for a patient, “it really does require that scientific curiosity, that inquiry.”  

Getting Outdoors Outside of Work 

Dr. Gelber’s interests outside of work include spending time outdoors and “as much time with my dog as possible.” She also says that she enjoys healthy cooking and getting creative with farm share ingredients, and shares some of her challenges using unusual ingredients, joking that “basically anything can go in soup or ice cream.”