Fellow Spotlight: Aarthi Sabanayagam, MD

Aarthi Sabanayagam, MDDr. Aarthi Sabanayagam was born in New York City, and at age 6 moved to Chennai, India. Her medical school training was at Chennai’s Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute. After an internship there, she was awarded externships in Internal Medicine and Cardiology at Beth Israel Deaconess and Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard.

She moved back to her birthplace in 2005 for a three-year residency at the Montefiore Medical Center–Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, followed by four years as a direct-care hospitalist at Montefiore, and three years as a fellow in cardiovascular medicine. “I’ve been training all my adult life,” Dr. Sabanayagam says with a laugh. Her interest in Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) was piqued during her fellowship under Dr. Ali Zaidi—an adult and pediatric cardiologist at Montefiore.

The UCSF ACHD fellowship intrigued her with its focus on research and high quality clinical care, as well as mentorship provided by Drs. Elyse Foster, Vaikom Mahadevan and Ian Harris. Dr. Sabanayagam feels privileged to work in a program that housed some of the “giants in Pediatric Cardiology,” and with patients operated on in the 1970s and 1980s who are still thriving today.

As Dr. Sabanayagam pursues her specialty in ACHD and echocardiography, she describes the field as the “the center of the Venn diagram of all of my favorite circles—young people, complex anatomy and hemodynamics, pregnancy, imaging, and heart failure—all the areas that I’m fascinated with.”

Following adult patients with childhood cardiac anomalies as well as patients discovered later in life to have a congenital defect is fascinating in its variety. “Every patient is different,” says Dr. Sabanayagam, who loves the idea that she’s able to help young people lead a better quality of life. “It’s really rewarding and satisfying work.”

In her free time Dr. Sabanayagam explores San Francisco and Napa Valley, especially the vibrant food scene, and heads out to the water whenever she has a chance.