Harun Kundi, MD, MMSc | Global Clinical Scholars Research Training, Master of Medical Sciences in Clinical Investigation

Harun Kundi Harun Kundi, MD, MMSc, is an interventional cardiologist in Turkey who has performed more than 2,000 cardiovascular invasive procedures on patients, and he also conducts research on various cardiovascular complications. In addition, he serves as an associate professor, sharing his knowledge with students in his country. But even though his plate is so full, several years ago he was looking for a way to elevate his research skills.

This ultimately led him to Harvard Medical School, where he completed the Global Clinical Scholars Research Training (GCSRT) program in 2017, followed by the Master of Medical Sciences in Clinical Investigation (MMSCI) program in 2019. Since then, many exciting doors have opened for him, including being published dozens of times in some of the world’s most prestigious medical journals. He credits his success to the excellent research training he received in both programs, as well as to the important role his Harvard mentors played in his continuing education.

The Desire for Stronger Research Skills

“Before applying to Harvard, I was working at a hospital in Turkey on analyzing data and discovering insights,” Kundi explains. “I had already published a few papers, but I didn’t have the level of experience I wanted. This is what led me to consider attending Harvard,” he recalls.

Originally, he planned to enroll in Harvard’s MMSCI program to earn his master’s degree in clinical investigation. But personal obligations prevented him from being able to attend the two-year, in-person program. This prompted him to select Harvard’s GCSRT option, a one-year certificate program offered in a hybrid format, which means much of the work could be done online from his home country, with just three in-person seminars requiring travel (prior to COVID-19).

Putting Research Skills into Action

He found the intensive GCSRT training very stimulating. “The program was very technical,” he says. But one thing was missing for him: the chance to put the lessons into action. “I was not practicing what I was learning as I learned it, so I still wanted more,” he says. Therefore, the following year he applied again to Harvard’s MMSCI again and this time, he accepted the spot he was offered. In 2017, he moved to the United States to spend two years on campus and got a job at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Cardiovascular Imaging Core Laboratory, which provided the opportunity for him to apply the coursework first-hand.

While the entire experience was life-changing, he says that the best part of the program was having a Harvard mentor to guide him each year. Working alongside these experts really taught him so much.

“While most of my classmates selected mentors who were very advanced, I selected mentors earlier on in their careers and this was the right choice for me,” he stresses. “I felt like people earlier in their career would work a lot and I would work a lot and we could publish together. I was really happy with my choices,” he adds.

Putting Training into Action

“I learned a lot of things from my mentors [each year] and started publishing papers, first with them and then on my own. While I was at Harvard, I was lead author of more than 10 papers,” he explains. “Mentors are very different from teachers. They taught me everything, such as how to get published, how to submit, when to be fast and when to be slow,” he says. He also received an award for submitting the best thesis defense and presentation at MMSCI.

The cumulation of what he learned in both Harvard programs was greater than anything he could have received from either program alone, he stresses. “It was a great experience for me. The two programs worked together for me.”

Advice to Others

His advice to others interested in pursuing a Harvard post-graduate education experience is to be prepared to work hard—and to be prepared to receive many benefits from the experience.

“In both programs, I had to work very hard. The Harvard name had first attracted me and I knew I would learn many things. But I did have to work harder than I had expected. What I also had not anticipated was how hard it would be at first when I came to the U.S.,” he admits.

“The big challenge for me was adapting to the American culture, which is very different from what I am used to in Turkey,” he says. But after about six months of living in the Boston area, he began to feel more comfortable. Getting used to a new culture also enhanced the experience in the end.

Publishing on an Array of Topics

Since graduating from the master’s program in 2019 and returning to Turkey, he has continued to put his training to good use and has continued to publish extensively on a variety of cardiac topics, such as trends in cardiovascular disease, the challenge of frailty in end-stage heart failure patients, and acute and coronary artery disease syndromes. He has also conducted extensive research into frailty and cardiac complications in patients with COVID-19. In addition, he received a grant from the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), which is the Turkish equivalent to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

His now 100-plus publication credits include the Lancet Regional Health-Europe, the European Heart Journal, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Circulation, JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, JAMA Cardiology, Atherosclerosis, the American Journal of Cardiology, the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, Coronary Artery Disease, the Anatolian Journal of Cardiology, and much more.

Learn more about Global Clinical Scholars Research Training and Master of Medical Sciences in Clinical Investigation


Written by Lisa D. Ellis