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Medical student Leana Pande named artist in residence

Sometimes, when a young man has talent in both science and art, he tells you that he feels drawn in two opposite directions and seems to have to make an agonizing choice about his future career.

But for Dallas native Leana Pande, now in her second year of medical school at Touro College of Medicine in Middletown, NY, the choice was easy.

“If you are a full-time artist, you have to be willing to paint what others want you to paint,” he said. “Being in medicine, I can make (art) more than one outlet and work on what inspires me.”

Part of his recent artistic inspiration has come from the inner workings of the human body. With permission from his medical school’s anatomy department, she photographed cadaver organs and created paintings showing the heart, brain, and lungs.

“I made the heart myself,” she said, explaining that for the brain and lung paintings, she drew the outlines and invited fellow students to color within the lines.

“Many students had never held a brush before,” he said, adding that he was thrilled to see his friends experience how relaxing painting can be. “It’s really cool to see someone develop a new hobby.”

The contour filling technique is something her mother, local artist Mona Pande, employed during the Indian classical art classes she taught in Wilkes-Barre.

Leana Pande, a graduate of Wyoming Seminary and Wilkes University, helped her mother teach those art classes.

And it didn’t take long for Touro College of Medicine to recognize his artistic talent. The school commissioned her to create several pieces to be exhibited on campus.

Some doctors have also bought his art, including Dr. David Langer, chair of neurosurgery at Lenox Hill Hospital.

In another recent honor, the American Medical Women’s Association selected Pande for its artist residency program.

“They select an artist each year who is also in medicine in some way,” said the honoree. “That person works alongside a medical artist and can speak for a while at a national conference.”

Pande was paired with neurosurgeon Dr. Kathryn Ko, with whom she meets every month to discuss her plans and what she has accomplished.

“He has the career path I want,” Pande said of his mentor. “She can do all medical science really interesting and she has this creative outlet on the side. She is definitely a professional level artist. “

Some of Pande’s past art projects included images of bacteria and viruses, as well as plant cells, based on how they appear under the electron microscope.

“When I looked at plants I saw structures that repeated themselves constantly,” Pande was quoted in a press release from Touro. “I saw fluorescent greens and blues that, as an artist, attracted me, so I painted them. I painted slices of grass, algae or microorganisms and created beautifully colored 3D models as if I had collected water from a pond and looked under a microscope to see what was there. Aesthetically I liked it ».

As for his future art projects, Pande predicts that they too will be related to science.

“Right now I’m brainstorming what I’m going to do for August,” he said in a telephone interview last week. “I bought some paint. I want to do something bold. “

What about your future medical specialty? “I’m keeping an open mind,” she said she. “I’m studying neurology; I like the way neurology makes you use critical thinking in your diagnosis. You have to be careful ”.

“I really like the brain,” he said.

Faculty member Dr. Stephen Moorman, who taught Pande’s anatomy and neuroanatomy, said his artistic ability will be an asset in his chosen profession.

“He has a different perspective on anatomy,” Moorman quoted in the press release. “When he looks at the dissections he is doing in our laboratory, he sees an illustration. He sees the beauty of the structures. Most students simply memorize what they see (and) don’t see. “

“We are lucky to have it,” said Moorman. “The observation skills you need to be a successful artist can really help you as a doctor. Diagnostic skills depend on your observation skills. It has powers of observation. It’s just about perfecting them and turning them into diagnostic skills, and that’s what we hope to do ”.

Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT

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