Cardiology Fellows, Second Place in Jeopardy

Jeopardy contestants

Each year, the Fellows-in-Training (FIT) Jeopardy contest offers one of the most exciting events at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session, which brings together cardiologists and cardiovascular specialists from around the world. This year, the Virginia team was made up of three cardiology fellows from Pauley, Drs. Guru Kowlgi, Mohammad Rajab and Cory Trankle. The team placed second in the final competition.  

“Their achievement is a huge deal,” said Dr. Kenneth Ellenbogen. “This is a competition between cardiology programs across the nation, and VCU Health’s quality is reflected by how well the team has performed. I think our cardiology fellows and faculty have much to be proud of.”

According to Rajab, the Pauley fellows had qualified to be on the Virginia team by winning both the state and Mid-Atlantic competitions, beating teams from the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech Carilion and others from Maryland, Delaware and D.C.

“Their achievement is a huge deal,” said Dr. Kenneth Ellenbogen. “This is a competition between cardiology programs across the nation, and VCU Health’s quality is reflected by how well the team has performed.”

“Guru really took the initiative to push our team to study in advance of the competition. Some of the attendings, such as Dr. Jay Koneru, helped keep us motivated as well, prompting us with trivia questions throughout the day,” said Trankle. The team focused on guidelines, landmark clinical trials and other areas important to know for their field of medicine. “I would say studying for the competition ended up being another way for us to prepare to be independent cardiologists.”

Thirty-five regional winning teams took part in the FIT Jeopardy finals on March 10 and 11 in Orlando, Fla. Contestants from the U.S. and Canada took turns selecting from the four categories, which all featured questions drawn from the American Board of Internal Medicine Certification Examination Blueprint. Like the game show, all answers were required to be in the form of a question.

Nine teams advanced to the semifinals. After further eliminations, the Virginia, Minnesota and New York teams competed in the final round. The Minnesota team, made up of fellows from the Mayo Clinic, took first place, and the New York team, made up of members from the Montefiore Medical Center and New York Medical College, placed third.

“What grabbed me was the amount of energy and enthusiasm that the competition rounds generated. It was great to see other VCU Health doctors show up to cheer us on,” said Trankle.

“What grabbed me was the amount of energy and enthusiasm that the competition rounds generated. It was great to see other VCU Health doctors show up to cheer us on,” said Trankle.

Even competitors from other programs were complimentary. A cardiology program director from another university told them, “Watching you guys answer those questions in less than a second made me want to go back and read [my medical books],’” recalled Kowlgi. “That for me was immensely humbling and something I will remember for many years.”

Although they had wanted to take home first place, said Kowlgi, “when it sunk in, we realized that we had done quite well to make it to that state and were thankful for the fantastic training we have received at VCU Health.”

From L to R: Pauley fellows Drs.Mohammad Rajab, Guru Kowlgi and Cory Trankle received plaques from Dr. B. Hadley Wilson, chair of the American College of Cardiology’s Board of Governors. They also received a copy of the Heart Sounds 4, a collection of audio files of different types of heart murmurs.