Prof. Dr. Srikumar Chakravarthi
Taking the Realm of Education to the Next Level
This story exemplifies a persona driven by his passion for education and dedication towards the healthcare domain. A “Law of Attraction” believer, who always chooses success as addiction and consistently strives to accomplish his every goal. Meet Prof. Dr. Srikumar Chakravarthi, a medical doctor and a pathologist, in academics and research for the past 24 years for whom there is no substitute for hard work and determination.
An ardent follower of motivators like Robin Sharma, Jack Canfield, Abraham Hicks, and Gaur Gopal Das, he believes that the ‘Chicken Soup for his Soul’ is in living life to the fullest and spreading the aura of positivity.
A Name Synonymous to Excellence
Dr. Srikumar is the Director for Research, Innovation, and Postgraduate Studies, at Malaysian Allied Health Sciences Academy (MAHSA) University, Malaysia. He has a wide-ranging experience of teaching in various medical faculties in India, Malaysia, the USA, and the UK. An ardent researcher, he has nearly 200 papers in indexed international peer-reviewed journals, with an H-index of 26, i10 index of 69, and 3000+ citations alongside being involved in numerous research grants projects. His areas of research interest include cancer pathology, immunohistochemistry, post mortem studies, and drug toxicity studies.
He is a former Dean of Graduate School of Medicine, Perdana University, Malaysia; and former Acting Dean and Associate Dean of Medical Sciences at International Medical University, Malaysia. His other administrative roles also include Deputy Dean, Head, Member of the Board of Governors, etc. with hands-on expertise in coordinating academic programs, accreditation processes, assessments, and curriculum structure planning, review, and delivery.
He is popular among students for his innovative, technology-driven teaching methods, and also conducts online medical tutoring and mentoring to students in many countries, even since a decade before COVID-induced online teaching. Apart from all this, he has also developed an android virtual reality app for Pathology, which has licensed users.
Achievements worth Mentioning
Over the years, Dr. Srikumar has earned various awards, appreciations, and honors that include:
• The Outstanding Research Scientist Award 2019 at International Scientist Awards for Engineering, Science and Medicine, Vishakapatnam, India.
• The Venus International Medical Award for Excellence in Pathology at the Annual Medical Summit, 2018.
• NRI of the year Award 2016-17: Academic Category (Nominated, Shortlisted, and Finalist).
• The Academic Brilliance Award 2013 by Education Expo TV for Excellence in Research (One of the 7 awardees at the National level in India, and the only awardee from outside India).
A passionate lecturer with more than 20,000 face-to-face and online teaching hours, he has also won many awards in his University teaching career, out of which some are mentioned below:
• Teaching Excellence Award 2013, IMU.
• Most Inspiring Lecturer Award 2011.
• Best PowerPoint Lecture Presenter for MBBS Program – 2010-11
• Overall Best lecturer award for MBBS –2010-11
MAHSA is a full-fledged Malaysian higher education institution with programs in the fields of Medicine, Biosciences, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Health Sciences, Nursing, Business, Finance, Hospitality Management, Information Technology, and Engineering at Diploma, Degree, Masters, and Doctoral levels. The institution aims to produce qualified and compassionate professionals to serve the needs of the country in line with the national goals and the government transformation plans in the 21st century.
Its “Be More” maxim drives its strategies towards an education that is beyond classroom and textbooks for the cultivation of professional skills that allow its graduates to be fully equipped for the years ahead. Under Dr. Srikumar’s aegis, the institution successfully inspires innovation through continuous improvement activities to achieve its strategic vision of becoming the Centre of Excellence in Higher Education, Research and Innovation in the region.
Along with academic qualifications, MAHSA students receive a CAREER PASSPORT filled with a series of elegant Masterclasses and internationally recognized professional certifications offered under MAHSA’s P.R.I.D.E (Professional, Industry Ready Education) program. They enjoy the IR4.0 curriculum with state-of-the-art facilities on campus, such as Additive Manufacturing Lab and AI-based Dental lab.
Today, the institution has students from 75 different countries and not just from the region of Asia, but as far as Australia, the UK, the USA, and Canada, and is redesigning the future of academic learning with its Open & Distance Learning landscape.
Cultivating Larger Than Life Experiences
Dr. Srikumar has successfully contributed to Malaysia’s Research and Innovation progress with his dedicated efforts across 75 research projects so far. He has supervised Masters and Ph.D. students for their research dissertations. He played a vital role in Malaysia’s National COVID-19 Vaccination Program, 2021 July as a Vaksinasi Project Assistant Chief for preparing and arranging manpower, logistics, support, infrastructure, for MAHSA University as a National Covid Vaccination Centre with the allotment of 3000 vaccination schedules per day.
He has directed and structured all preclinical and clinical activities in the Johns Hopkins curriculum and University California San Digo curriculum, both of which are top US Universities that assisted in the Medical curriculum in Malaysia. This includes Virtual microscopy sessions, and also organized the medical museum pathology specimens.
He has prepared Problem-based Learning (PBL) methodologies, facilitated study guides, and reference materials for preclinical Phase and with clinical correlation in various Universities covering Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Gastrointestinal, and other disciplines. He has developed Online Learning Interactive Systems and Medical Online Formative Assessment which is a host to over 800 MOFA questions in Pathology and Haematology, and other subjects, including training students in the USMLE, which allows them a pathway to progress their specialization in the US.
He has performed sustained community activities for over 5 years in Rumah Shalom, PJ Caring Home, Precious Home, Rumah Darul Izzah, Rumah Chrestus, Persatuan Kebajikan Charis Cheras, St Jerome Home for the Community Project Committee (2004-2013). He has been a stellar staff advisor for the Perdana University Community Projects (2014-19).
Apart from all this, he has also been a great academic mentor to the medical, dental, pharmacy students, and other students from diverse medical fields.
Some Obstacles on the Way
Students always felt that they had to memorize and regurgitate during the exams. Their learning was to score in the exams, rather than learn for knowledge. Over the years, Dr. Srikumar overcame this by introducing critical thinking and innovative teaching methods, visuals, flipped classes, online learning, and videos to students across many countries.
Another major challenge was accepting digital teaching as he found that only the younger teachers were using technology more frequently in the classroom and elderly lecturers needed additional training and coaxing. However, he overcame this challenge with additional instructions and motivation ensuring professional development activity to impact their teaching practices.
Lack of time for planning, lot of paperwork, performance pressure from school administrators, balancing diverse learning needs, handling too many students/ courses, and lack of proper funding in academic staff applying for research grants and writing research papers was becoming a big problem. As such, Dr. Srikumar mobilized a committee to give protected time for academics into research, keep aside dedicated grants to fund research, and redistribute workloads to equitable capacities for the academic teachers who were interested in research.
Last but not the least, in the early part of the pandemic, his educational peers and academic team struggled and lacked the experience and time needed to conceive new ways to deliver instruction and assignments and retain international students. Examinations were also affected/ delayed, causing disruption to students’ learning trajectories and progression. But Team Dr. Srikumar overcame these challenges by virtue of sharing individual experiences in the team, and with the support of the management, created a robust online system for education delivery and examinations, and retained the interest and enrolment of International students.
Remember These Words
Dr. Srikumar advises his students and mentees that you need to prioritize your academics to climb the success ladder. Be punctual and always plan all your activities beforehand so that you can reach wherever required on time. Ensure that you seek valuable knowledge consistently and stay away from plagiarism. Concentrate on your end goals and take the necessary steps to achieve them.
Remember, that getting inspired by someone, and getting demoralized by comparing yourself with others are two separate things. You should know that you have to succeed but only on your terms. So, choose your own way and refrain from unnecessary comparisons.
You need to cut out unrealistic expectations as they can drastically lead to disappointment and demotivation in the long run. Instead of trying to leap ahead quickly, aim to make progress in a step-by-step manner. Develop a habit of focusing on your curiosity and the things that excite you the most, as it can prove to be one of the most valuable success resources.