Sona Vasudevan, PhD: The extra mile.

Director, Systems Medicine MD/MS and Master’s in Systems Medicine
Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

“Success is who you are and how all of these experiences have shaped you into a person. Everyone can achieve their highest if they are in the right place at the right time with the right opportunities.”

At Georgetown University since 2005


Systems medicine from scratch.

In 2011, I was offered the opportunity to create a program in Systems Medicine, the first of its kind in the United States. So I worked hard and built it from scratch. I built the courses and the curriculum, and now here we are – the program has been running for 7 years. I originally created the dual-degree MD/MS master’s program. Then in 2016 we launched the first free-standing master’s program in Systems Medicine, and I haven’t looked back since!

“It takes a village to make the Systems Medicine program successful, and I’ve been very fortunate to live in a beautiful village of so many people who have contributed that success.”

The Systems Medicine program is geared towards one and all. Medicine is transitioning to “one size doesn’t fit all” medicine. So the program caters to a wide variety of students. Medicine is becoming personalized. So what works for you, may not work for me. The intent of the program is to inculcate in students this approach to the practice of medicine. Systems medicine graduates can go on to:

  • Medical school, where they’ll be equipped to handle what’s coming as a practicing physician;
  • Get a job in the field of informatics; or
  • Pursue a PhD.

The program is wide open to a diverse student cohort. I have met some amazing scientists and physicians from all over the globe who have lectured to students in the program. While I’ve done all the work in terms of creating the curriculum, it takes a village to make the program successful, and I’ve been very fortunate to live in a beautiful village of so many people who have contributed to that success.

Just one student.

I’m trying to teach my 13-year-old that getting all A’s, getting a good job, and making a lot of money does not equate to success. To me, success is not found in my title, or my position, or how much I make; it is found in how much I am able to change and impact the lives of others – even if it is just one student. If I have impacted their life for the better, then, that is success.

The extra mile.

Successful students work hard and walk that extra mile to learn and give off their best. I always look for students who walk that extra mile. Of course, grades are important. But learning is more than grades. A person as a whole is what really matters. Here at Georgetown, a Jesuit school, we believe in cura personalis. It means that we take care of the whole person with an appreciation for their circumstances, and the gifts and insights they bring to our campus. The pursuit of this philosophy will enhance the practice, and efficacy, of medicine.