Meet the SAMSA Team!

SAMSA was co-founded in the summer of 2020 by a team of five medical students who saw the need for a unified national platform in the US to support South Asian medical students. With a passion for cultural competence in healthcare and for community building, SAMSA leaders envision a connected network of future physician leaders.

Akanksha Srivastava

Co-Founder & Co-President

Welcome! I’m Akanksha, an M4 at Boston University School of Medicine. I grew up in a quaint New England town and moved to Boston for my Bachelors degree in Psychology and Biology with a focus in cell/molecular/genetics at BU. I took some time off before medical school to explore psychiatry research. My current interests lie at the intersection of women’s health and culturally competent care. During my free time, I enjoy cooking, running, and reading. I’m looking forward to working with SAMSA to achieve our mission!


Twitter: @akankshasri18


Co-Founder & Co-President

Hi there! I’m Aneesha, a current M4 at Boston University School of Medicine. I was born and raised just outside of Los Angeles and then moved across the country to complete my Bachelors in Medical Sciences and Psychology at Boston University. I am interested in pediatrics, and am passionate about advocacy and delivering care with cultural humility. In my free time, I enjoy being outdoors, traveling, going to concerts, and spending time with family and friends. I’m very excited for SAMSA to create a network of future physician-leaders!


Twitter: @AneeshaPydi1

Sanjana Ayyagari

Executive Director

Hi! My name is Sanjana and I am an OMS-II at Sam Houston State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. I am from Houston, Texas, and graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S. in Biochemistry and minors in Psychology and Chemistry in Spring 2021. I am interested in ob/gyn and pediatrics and really enjoy teaching. In my free time, I work as a professional portrait and event photographer and I love meeting new people, traveling, and engaging my creative side through this craft. I am extremely excited to be a part of this growing network of South Asian students and to help advocate for South Asians in medicine!


Pranitha pothuri


Hi! I’m Pranitha, a current OMS-2 at the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine. I was born and raised in New York City and then moved to the Poconos in Pennsylvania. After that I went to the University of Pittsburgh for my bachelors in Biology and a MS in Biomedical Sciences. I am interested in neurology and anesthesiology, and am passionate about delivering culturally competent care especially to minority groups with known health disparities. In my free time, I enjoy shopping , traveling, going to the beach, and spending time with family and friends. I’m very excited to be on the board and hope we can all grow together as future physicians!

manaahil rao

Newsletter Chair

Hi! I’m Manaahil, a current M3 at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. I am originally from Maryland and completed my undergraduate degree in Bioengineering at the University of Maryland, College Park before moving to Baltimore for medical school. I am interested in a mix of medicine and surgery, and am passionate about increasing healthcare access for underserved urban communities. Outside of school, I love traveling, hiking and being around my friends and family. I’m thrilled to be a part of SAMSA and increase our communication and network across our different student communities!

aayush visaria

Research Committee Chair

Hey! I’m Aayush, a PGY-1 in Internal Medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. I’m passionate about research – after completing an MPH in biostatistics at Rutgers, I did a research year at Weill Cornell during medical school and a postdoctoral research fellowship at Rutgers prior to starting residency. I’ve had the opportunity to teach and work with dozens of students over the past 7 years, many of whom have gone on to co-author several studies. My research interests include cardiovascular disease prevention and epidemiology, racial/ethnic disparities in cardio-metabolic health, and lifestyle medicine. I also run American Preventive Screening and Education Assocation (APSEA, formerly North American Disease Intervention), a non-profit focused on diabetes and hypertension awareness. I’ve been fortunate to be able to work with various South Asian research organizations in the past and hope to help close the large gap in South Asian-representative research in the United States through our SAMSA research initiatives, while also providing students with exciting research opportunities.


karen khangura

Mentorship Co-Chair

Im a fourth year medical student attending the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine. I attended University of California Santa Cruz for my bachelor of arts. I am passionate about hospital medicine and will be applying to Internal Medicine for residency. This year I hope to strengthen the mentorship program with SAMSA. I find mentorship to be one of the keys to a medical student’s success and i’m excited to help make these connections for others! If anyone would like to reach me directly please email me at:


Mentorship Co-Chair

Hi there! My name is Dhivya Kannan and I am an OMS 4 at Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine. I’m from Bentonville, Arkansas and graduated from The University of Tulsa. I was born and raised in Arkansas and have been able to see a variety of socioeconomic populations; my passions arise from my experiences in these communities and wanting to advocate for and provide medical care to lower income communities and minorities. I’m involved in the SAMSA chapter at my medical school and have been able to organize many impactful events and I am even more excited to be involved with SAMSA on a national level. In my free time I enjoy hiking, spending time with family and friends, and trying new coffee shops! I’m looking forward to being a part of this organization to bring more awareness and help build strong connections within the South Asian Physician community! 

nowshin islam

Events Co-Chair

Hello everyone! I currently serve as the National SAMSA Events Co-Chair. I am a second year medical student at the CUNY School of Medicine’s seven-year BS/MD program. I graduated from the Bachelor’s portion of the program as a 2022 Valedictorian Candidate. I am the founder and program director of the CUNY School of Medicine’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Program. As the President of CUNY PHR and a member of the national PHR Student Advisory Board, I have also founded the CUNY Human Rights Clinic – the first student-led asylum clinic in the CUNY system. I am motivated to mobilize, empower, and equip medical students and physicians with the skills, knowledge, and opportunity to support South Asian health as well as create unique networking opportunities for South Asian medical students and physicians.

puja shah

Chapter Membership Chair

Hi y’all! My name is Puja Shah and I am a second-year medical student at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX. I have spent a majority of my life in Houston. I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Integrative Biology. Prior to medical school, I was heavily involved with minimally invasive surgery research. I continue to be passionate about outcomes research, volunteering at local free clinics, and mentorship within the South Asian community. Outside of medicine, I enjoy traveling, cooking/baking, and Garba season. I am really excited to be a part of SAMSA as I feel it is a great way to connect South Asian physicians and medical students from diverse backgrounds. I’m looking forward to serving as your Be The Match chair and helping further SAMSA’s community initiatives!

Email me:

anurag modak

Advocacy Committee Co-Chair

নমস্কার! My name is Anurag Modak and I am a third-year medical student at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. I was born in Kolkata, West Bengal, India and lived briefly in Ghent, Belgium before moving to the United States. I spent my formative years in central Jersey. I graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers University Honors College in 2020 with a B.A. in Cell Biology and Neuroscience. My passion for addressing the challenges faced by South Asian communities encompasses the realms of both research and entrepreneurship. My diverse research interests include protein engineering, neurosurgery, and South Asian health and my work has been published internationally in peer-reviewed journals including the Biochemical Journal, Journal of Clinical Hypertension, Indian Heart Journal, Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery, and World Neurosurgery. In addition, I developed a technology to sanitize water with sunlight and co-founded Sulis Water International, Inc., a social innovation venture addressing the global clean water scarcity, starting with India. In my free time I enjoy traveling, learning about the histories and cultures of other nations, reading, and watching sci-fi shows and movies. I am excited to help SAMSA grow and draw more attention to South Asian health and the work of South Asians in medicine!

vrinda gupta

Advocacy Committee Co-Chair

Hey! I’m Vrinda, a fourth year medical student at GW SMHS. I completed my bachelor degree in Biology and Global Health at Emory University. I have moved around a lot, living near San Francisco, in India, Atlanta, and now DC. Every city I lived in showed me that people always found strength in their communities. This led to my passion for community health and equity in medicine. I am proud to be one of the co-founders of SAMSA and part of an organization that connects South Asian medical students and prioritizes advocacy. My interests include cooking, film and TV. I look forward to bringing SAMSA to the forefront of advocacy on the national stage!

Twitter: @VrindaGupta_27

Rishma jivan

Be the Match Coordinator

Hello! I’m Rishma, an M1 at Rush Medical College. I was raised in London, UK and California, and attended University of California, San Diego where I obtained my Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. I spent my gap years working in health tech startups and local clinics, which further fueled my interest in advocating for a more equitable healthcare future for all. My current interest lies in surgery and playing an active role in healthcare leadership. When I am not studying, you’ll find me dancing, reading, or trying new experiences with my friends. I’m thrilled to be part of SAMSA and look forward to raising awareness around Be The Match and increasing South Asian representation in the national marrow registry.

vidya visvabharathy

Events Co-Chair

My name is Vidya Visvabharathy and I am an M4 at Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University in Chicago, my hometown! I graduated from Fordham University in 2014 with a double major in Sociology and Spanish. After college, I spent time in Lima, Peru researching HIV transmission, which led me to pursue a Masters in Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. There, I became enthralled with patient education as a clinical researcher, ultimately propelling my pursuit toward a career in medicine. At Loyola, I have served on the boards of Students for a National Health Program (SNaHP), the Forum on Female Sexual Medicine, and our local SAMSA chapter. I am also involved in academic tutoring, Spanish interpreting, reproductive health research, and advocacy for medical trainees. I hope to use my service background to continue to advocate for the South Asian community as a member of the SAMSA National Board. In my spare time, I adore my dog Lilo, read medical fiction, and play the piano!

Ramya Nyalakonda

Instagram Media Chair

Hi! My name is Ramya and I’m an OMS-III at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. I am originally from Cupertino, California and graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (Go Blazers!!) with a Bachelors of Science in Biology. I am passionate about advocating for medical care for lower income communities and populations. I helped start SAMSA at TCOM because providing mentorship for my peers in medicine is important. At TCOM, I am also involved in research as well as being an Ultrasound Teaching Assistant. In my free time, I love to try new coffee shops as well as workout! I’m excited to be a part of National SAMSA to help bridge the gap between South Asian Physicians and medical students around the country!


monica palande

Student Membership Chair

Hello hello! My name is Monica Palande and I am an OMS-III at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. I grew up in Canton, MI and then attended the University of Michigan where I pursued a degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Sociology of Health and Medicine. I helped co-found MSUCOM’s chapter of SAMSA last year and I could not be more excited to be able to continue to work with SAMSA on a national level. I am passionate about pediatric health, social disparities and their effect on health, mentorship, and teaching. I am a huge bookworm, but when I’m not reading or listening to audiobooks, you can catch me dancing, doing yoga, or rewatching Parks and Recreation!


Pooja Polamarasetti

Anti-Bias Committee Chair

Hi! My name is Pooja and I’m an M3 at Wayne State University. I’ve lived in Michigan for most of my life and recently graduated from the University of Michigan in 2020, studying Biomolecular Science and Gender and Health. During medical school in Detroit, I have worked at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic and I am also involved in my Student Senate and local chapter of American Medical Women’s Association. I’m passionate about learning and teaching about advocacy in medicine and am especially interested in the ways nutrition, socioeconomic status, and environment affect health. I hope to inspire our growing network of South Asian students and physicians to lead careers immersed in awareness, compassion, and effective care for the whole patient. When I’m not reading, I love to dance and sing (not professionally) and explore new types of foods and cultures!


Mariam Chaudhry

Twitter Media Chair

Hello, my name is Mariam Chaudhry and I currently attend Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York. In 2019, I graduated from Rider University with a bachelor’s degree in biological science and went on to pursue my master’s degree in biology. I am interested in gastroenterology and aim to collaborate with the South Asian population in the United States to bring awareness to these health issues. As a member of SAMSA, I am involved with the social media team and the monthly newsletter. I’m excited to raise awareness about health disparities in the South Asian community and promote cultural competence in the healthcare industry. In my spare time, I like to watch Studio Ghibli films, spend time with my friends and family, and come up with hilarious Tik Tok skits that I will never post.