Surya Manickam

Surya Manickam
2017 Summer Scholar


After minoring in global poverty and practice as an undergraduate at the University of California at Berkeley, Surya Manickam, MD, was inspired to pursue research that could be leveraged to enact change in the lives of underserved populations. This, combined with his passion for working with children, led him to apply to the Hassenfeld Summer Scholars Program in 2017.

At the time, Dr. Manickam was still pursuing both his doctor of medicine and his master’s degree in population medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown. Now, he’s completing a residency in pediatrics at Columbia University, where he says his work is in line with the research he did as a Summer Scholar.

“I want to eventually become a neonatologist. I think my clinical position will be in the NICU, but I really want to do public policy work,” Dr. Manickam said.

As a Summer Scholar, Dr. Manickam collaborated on a project with Dr. Betty Vohr, who directs the NICU Neonatal Follow-Up Program at Women & Infants Hospital, which offers comprehensive family-centered follow-up care and provides support services for high-risk infants and children. Dr. Manickam’s project examined how factors such as neighborhood risk, distance to ED, distance to primary care provider (PCP) and individual infant and maternal risk factors contribute to NICU graduate ED use in the first 90 days of post-discharge.

His research found that high neighborhood risk, decreased gestational age (less than 32 weeks), history of a maternal mental health diagnosis and non English-speaking status predicted NICU graduate ED utilization, with distance to ED and PCP playing no significant role.

“This project was one of my core research projects in the field of medicine, and it was hugely influential,” Dr. Manickam said.

Dr. Manickam also said the mentorship he received from Dr. Vohr as well as Patrick Vivier, MD, MPH, who directs the Hassenfeld Institute, helped to lay the groundwork for his project.

In April 2019, Dr. Manickam presented his work at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting, where he was awarded the Academic Pediatric Association Research Award for Best Abstract by a Student.

“A big part of the mission of the Hassenfeld Institute is to conduct research to create a foundation for policy change to be enacted. The work I did at the Institute is characteristic of the work I want to do moving forward,” Dr. Manickam said.

After graduating from Alpert Medical School in May 2020, Dr. Manickam relocated to New York to begin his residency at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where work has continued despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“There are certain aspects of what we do during residency that have been limited, like visiting community sites, but I’m still learning a ton, and I’m taking care of families every day,” he said.