Karan R Gregg Aggarwala
US Citizen, born San Antonio Texas
Mother of Native American descent, born in Texas;
Father of South-Asian descent, born in London;
Wife of father was born in India and she was a powerful maternal influence.
At age 20 months, Karan was transported to India;
He attended a British pre-school in New Delhi;
He attended Tappan Zee elementary school in Rockland County, near New York City where he pledged allegiance to the flag. A classmate asked Karan if he lived in a tee-pee.
From age 11 to 15 years (grades 5 to 9), Karan attended private middle school in New Delhi. His father sponsored a baseball team at the American embassy (the Poonaire Panthers), and Karan played Little League baseball as short-stop for the Oberoi Dodgers.
In middle school, Karan excelled in Geography and Civics and Sanskrit. He learned to play acoustic guitar to accompany his singing voice (Beatles/Simon&Garfunkel/James Taylor/John Denver/Lobo/Bread/Cat Stevens). He practiced for a theater group.
Karan was often perplexed by the mysterious order of natural objects such as the shell of the mollusc snail being strikingly similar to a spiral cosmic galaxy. He was prone to day-dreaming . Karan excelled in physics but found organic chemistry and calculus extremely challenging. He was selected to serve student government. He performed on stage for musical events and wrote poems for the school journal. He was good at lectures but not good at debate. He found debate adversarial. He did not prepare well enough for the SAT exam: scores were good, but not excellent. Admission to colleges in the USA was not an option.
Karan joined the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS, New Delhi) after an entrance test. He learned clinical ophthalmic sciences and laboratory methods; and was introduced to surgical methods for cataract and retinal detachment. The nurses went on strike and Karan manned the ophthalmic emergency room (casualty) for 3 weeks rotating with his colleagues round-the-clock. In clinics he conducted initial tests for case-presentation to the attending ophthalmologist. In 1987, a tumor surgeon told Karan to let the patient's father know that his 1-year old son will die from retinoblastoma if the eyeball is not extirpated in six months or less. This was his first introduction to Informed Consent. Two years later, Karan was given the Best Student Award.
From credentials evaluation by the International Consultants of Delaware, Karan's medical college GPA was a 4.0. After passing the Optometry Admission Test, Karan interviewed at the SUNY College of Optometry, and joined in January 1990. Being more interested in research, Karan applied for the F-32 post-doctoral fellowship (NRSA) and was given support ($93,600) for 3 years of the PhD program at SUNY from the NIH (Behavioral Neuroscience of Eye Focusing). Primary research in the laboratory of Dr. Philip B. Kruger employed human subjects with strict adherence to the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki for Informed Consent. Results were published in journals such IOVS, JOSA, Vision Research, and in the journal of the American Academy of Optometry. Significance of this body of work was discussed with professors from Rockefeller University, Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Chicago, Harvard Psychology, and at Center for Visual Science (Rochester New York).
Karan attended Statistics at Hunter College and Business Studies at Bloomfield College.
He completed Kriger's program for Clinical Trials (online), and methods in Small Scale Manufacturing (pharmaceuticals and cosmetics). He attended a weekend training program on SBIR grant applications from Lisa Kurek, and another on business etiquette from Barbara Pachter. Discussions with faculty from University of Maryland and Cornell Ithaca helped clarify the topic of Nutrient Composition of Tree Nuts, at a conference in Washington DC. Topics concerning the use of animals in research were discussed with faculty at Rutgers University. Legal aspects of medical communications were discussed during team conference at a subsidiary company of WPP in New Jersey.
POST-DOCS IN VISUAL BIOLOGY
Volunteering for the Coleman lab at Cornell Ophthalmology on York Avenue, Karan designed and administered two studies that were presented at ARVO 1996. Working under the guidance of Professor Israel Abramov at Brooklyn College, Dr. Aggarwala learned about research aimed at understanding dyslexia. Volunteering for the Nutritional Optometry Institute and Associates, Dr. Aggarwala learned the role of nutrient metals that enable redox reactions, and the co-factors needed for protein synthesis (Dr. Benjamin C. Lane in New Jersey). It took 23 years for Aggarwala to submit his synthesis on factors affecting internal fluid eye pressure: published in January 2020.
STUDIES IN FOREST ECOLOGY & INTER-PERSONAL ECOLOGY
Having visited locations in the Hudson Valley where the Department of Environmental Conservation has their research posts; and having spoken with scientists at the USDA Forest Service station in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Karan began in year 1998 to collect writings pertaining to data and opinions to test the theoretical underpinnings for Lyme disease and the 11-years gypsy moth cyclic outbreaks. The data remain unpublished, but Karan's understanding of ecology has been presented in his book of poems (Ecological Meditations 2010). This book has been reviewed by a postgraduate scholar in the UK: at Oxford, under the web domain for a non-profit organization (The Nature of Cities); link follows here (https://www.thenatureofcities.com/2020/07/07/my-past-present-and-future-a-review-of-ecological-mediations/).
Having been given an escorted tour of an aircraft carrier at the tender age of five, Karan frequently asked his father questions on topics relating to engineering. His father had helped in the refrigerated transport of blood during the Vietnam war. Father trained in mechanical engineering at OSU from 1955 till 1958, but they did not give him a certificate upon completion. Father joined Westinghouse Electric leading the team for counter-balanced pulley mechanism design for elevators. During an HVAC house call in Columbus Ohio, the client was so impressed and she gave father a bottle of Scotch Whiskey in addition to his work-order fees. Father later came to represent Friedrich air-conditioning company (San Antonio Texas) and Philco corporation to the World Bank. Karan's grandpa attained the rank of Major for the British Army (cavalry) at age 24, and was inducted to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1932. Grandpa retired as Lt. Colonel. From 1946 till 1954, grandpa served in the British Occupation Zone of the Rhine Valley. Karan did not qualify for any of the armed forces, but he assisted in the development of advanced navigation methods engineering/math for the US Air Force (Fort Rucker Alabama years 1994-98). Family moved from London to the State of Illinois in 1955.
Karan developed and taught a business course to undergrads (Clemson University, SC) based on principles expounded by Steven Covey and Jack Canfield. He formed a company inspired by the innovative genius of Benjamin Franklin (1995, 2009) to launch instrumentation for better diagnostics in the eye clinic based on genuine unmet need of national and/or global significance. He is presently developing two applications to request grant money from the Federal government (NSF and NIH). Among others, Aggarwala is intrigued by examples from the lives of Henry Ford, Edwin Land, and George Eastman.
After reading a book by Dr. Walter Willett, in year 2010 Dr. Aggarwala visited the Harvard School of Public Health to enroll for the MPH degree. The counselor at the admissions office, upon evaluation of Karan's CV: waxed equivocal. The first scaled-up epidemiology exercise conducted by Karan was for the Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) in year 1984-85. This predicted endocrine parameter (low thyroxine in blood) to surmise about prevalence of goitre (underactive thyroid) based upon the regional sales of iodized salt in states of northern India. Very recently, Dr. Aggarwala has published on immune-enhancing property of Vitamin A (a component of Visual Purple) as compared to beta carotene: and the need for us to harvest the growing parts above the soil as opposed to the subsurface storage body of planted radish, turnip, and carrots.
Karan became a member of ARVO in year 1991, and gained membership to the NYAS in 1992. Karan attended social events hosted by the Sierra Club, and lectures hosted by the NYAM, He was inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry in December 1999. He has been a member of the American Institute for Motion Engineers, and a group on systems engineering. He recently gained membership to the AAAS. He has attended educational events hosted by the Audubon Society. He has donated to the World Wildlife Fund and to the cause of Paralyzed Veterans. His name appears on the Wall of Tolerance in Montgomery Alabama since 2013.
Awards and Recognition
- Medical School New Delhi: Best Student Award AIIMS
- F-32 Post-Doc EY06403, NRSA NIH; US$93,600 (Behav Neurosci)
- Proficiency in Physics/Music (High-School)
- Curriculum Committee Service Award: SUNY Optometry 1994
- UKIERI Award (Anglia Ruskin) for Masters Curriculum 2005