Grand Rounds : Archive, 2003-2013

Dr. Rishi Desai

Rishi Desai is currently a medical educator at the Khan Academy, a free online education platform and nonprofit organization. His goal is to generate open-sourced, high-quality medical and health education content available to anyone, anywhere.

Dr. Desai is a pediatric infectious disease physician who has mentored trainees at every stage of his career. He has been awarded numerous teaching accolades and his passion for teaching eventually brought him to the Khan Academy.

In his early years, Dr. Desai had an accelerated early education, completing high school and receiving his BS in Microbiology from UCLA by the age of 18. He completed his medical training at UCSF and went on to work at prestigious medical centers including those affiliated with Harvard University, Boston University, University of Southern California, and Stanford University. He returned to UCLA to earn his MPH in epidemiology, and then spent two years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an Epidemic Intelligence Officer investigating disease outbreaks.

As the team lead for medical partnerships at the Khan Academy, Dr. Desai brings his expertise in pediatric infectious diseases and public health to the Academy’s ~6 million unique users per month. Dr. Desai has worked with multiple medical schools to implement online video-based content directly into their curriculum. He knows what it takes to make this approach succeed, and some of the common pitfalls associated with using the blended classroom approach. Most recently, Dr. Desai has collaborated with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Association of American Medical Colleges to put forth content for the 2015 Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The organizations hosted a competition to identify top educators that were trained to make high-quality videos and questions for the MCAT exam. This approach allows Khan Academy Medicine to scale their content without having to diminish the high quality of the videos and questions.

Dr. Desai can offer the historical perspective of Khan Academy’s wild success, a behind-the-scenes peek at how it works today, a discussion of how Khan Academy is different from other Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), a look at medical and and health education in a larger context, and his own involvement in this developing field. The Khan Academy is rethinking the way we learn, and teach, and Dr. Desai shows us the extreme, game-changing benefits of self-pacing programs, open access, and being a part of a global classroom. He shares inspiring stories of Khan Academy students, and offers us a look into the future (and the betterment) of public education-and what our world might look like with widespread, world-class access to medical and health information.