Kumar Belani, MD, is the kind of doctor who sees a gap in medical care and does what it takes to fill that need. Trained as an anesthesiologist at the University of Minnesota, Belani found that adult anesthesia protocols don’t always suit children. It prompted him to pursue advanced training to provide customized anesthesia for pediatric patients. 

To deeply understand the science of pain relief, Belani earned a master’s degree in anesthesiology from the University of Minnesota Medical School. Next, he completed a fellowship at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in pediatric anesthesiology and critical care. Belani then returned to Minnesota to establish the Medical School’s division of pediatric anesthesia and the pediatric intensive care unit at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, where he serves as chief pediatric anesthesiologist. 

Thriving in Academic Medicine 

During 44 years at the University, Belani has worked at the forefront of innovation and collaboration. He frequently joined care teams as they broke ground in liver, kidney and stem cell transplantation, cardiovascular care and treating children with metabolic diseases. Being able to engage in such pioneering work inspired and sustains his long career in academic medicine. 

“I like the challenge of change and advancement,” he says. “I started out first with adults, and then I saw there was an opportunity to advance pediatric anesthesia locally, nationally and globally.” 

The University of Minnesota was the right place for Belani to pursue discoveries that make a difference. He appreciates all of the expertise at the University, along with the spirit of teamwork, cooperation and collaboration in pursuit of a common goal. “People here are dedicated,” he adds. “They have an open mind, and they are willing to come forward and help. It makes a lot of difference.”

Cultivating a Global Mindset 

Part of that open mind includes the work Belani took on with other Medical School leaders to establish connections with his alma mater, St. John’s Medical College in Bangalore, India. Belani forged partnerships between the college and the University, developed a student and faculty exchange and led trips to India with deans of the School of Public Health, College of Nursing, Medical School and the governor and first lady of Minnesota. 

“The students have gained exposure to a culturally different and economically different type of medical practice so that they can see what they are not able to experience here,” Belani notes. “They get a wide exposure of cases that they would not see in the United States, and they also look at all of the cultural issues that go into that and what they lack.” 

Belani has enjoyed the multifaceted career that academic medicine provides. Above all, he gets satisfaction from helping his pediatric patients. 

“I like to help children and interact with families—it brings me joy,” he says. “I know that I can make them comfortable through the process they are undergoing in the hospital. Seeing the impact that I can provide to these children gives me a lot of happiness.”