Medscape at 25: Recognizing Medicine's Rising Stars

Becky Lang


December 07, 2020

Rishi Desai, MD, MPH, is the chief medical officer of Osmosis, an online medical education platform. Previously, Desai created and led Khan Academy's health and medicine division. Formerly, he served as an epidemic intelligence officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At age 14, Rishi Desai was on his way to the University of California, Los Angeles, after skipping three grades. By the time he graduated at 18, he had committed to a medical career.

"I wanted to do this thing that I always said I wanted to do," he says, "with very little understanding of what it would mean to be a doctor."

Desai went to medical school, finished a pediatrics residency, and completed a fellowship at Children's Hospital Los Angeles in 2010.

While he enjoyed caring for kids, epidemiology and public health pulled him away, and he went to work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an epidemic intelligence officer.

"When I was at the CDC, I was doing research on stuff that wasn't complicated but sounded complicated," Desai says. Once he explained his work to friends, they'd understand it. He had discovered that teaching and coaching were his passions.

Following those passions took him to the online education platform Khan Academy, where he launched its health and medicine division. He's now the chief medical officer of Osmosis, an online medical education platform which uses video and memory tools to help students in medical, osteopathy, dental, and nursing school programs.

"For a long time, how you score on exams is really a gating factor," Desai says. "Yet we know some of the best clinicians don't necessarily do well when under time pressure ... so we want students to realize that we're here to help them through that, but also here to help them with the skills they'll need."

As part of Medscape's celebration of our 25th anniversary this year, we're recognizing 25 young physicians who are rising stars in medicine, poised to become future leaders of their fields. View the full list here.


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