Born and raised in Lucknow, India, Sharad Lakhanpal, MBBS, MD, vividly remembers his father’s stories of traveling to the U.S. As a young boy, he grew intrigued, imagined living here and knew that someday he would narrate his own adventures about this country.
As president of the ACR and a practicing rheumatologist at Rheumatology Associates in Dallas, Dr. Lakhanpal now focuses on telling a different story: how the ACR is helping the field of rheumatology evolve. As president, his plans include increasing the number of rheumatology health professionals; exploring development of a rheumatology alternative payment model under MACRA; expanding the newly launched online learning management system; and leveraging data in the RISE Registry to enhance patient care, research, education and value of care.
“It’s a pretty ambitious agenda,” he says. “But I’m fortunate to be supported by a dedicated group of qualified volunteers and staff.”
Training Around the Globe
Dr. Lakhanpal’s medical training occurred on three different continents. He graduated from King George’s Medical College at the University of Lucknow in 1974. Determined to work and live in a country roughly 8,500 miles away from home, Dr. Lakhanpal then moved to England for nearly two years, training in internal medicine in the National Health Service.
Then in 1980, he moved to the U.S., where he completed his internal medicine residency program at Memorial Hospital at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Three years later, he relocated to Rochester, Minn., for a three-year fellowship in rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical School. But after several harsh winters, he accepted a faculty position in 1986 at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. The following year, he joined Rheumatology Associates, also in Dallas, and still works there today while maintaining an honorary position as clinical professor of internal medicine at UT.
During his fellowship, Dr. Lakhanpal joined the American Rheumatism Association (now called the ACR) and began volunteering for the organization several years later. Starting in 1988, he served on the Strategic Planning and Organizational Review Committee and later chaired the Committee on Government Affairs, became a board member and joined the Executive Committee.
Dr. Lakhanpal’s volunteer efforts extended beyond the ACR. From 2003 to 2004, he served as the president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI).
“My exposure as AAPI president was a great learning experience involving the advocacy and political process of organized medicine,” he says. “It gave me the insights, grounding and understanding of how the healthcare system worked here.”