Meet the Mentor: Shoumita Dasgupta, PhD

Gender Identity & Pronouns: she/her
Additional identities: South Asian woman, daughter of immigrants
Affinity Groups: gSOC, Disability Advocacy Group
Hometown: Central Pennsylvania with family origins in West Bengal, India
Education: PhD, University of California, San Francisco; MS, University of California, San Francisco; BS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Interests: travel, reading fiction from international authors and authors of color, swimming, biking, and burning down the patriarchy

Personal Facts/Hobbies:

Shoumita Dasgupta grew up primarily in Central Pennsylvania as the daughter of two immigrants from Kolkata, India. Her parents immigrated at a time when there were very few South Asians in the area, and the family would routinely receive phone calls from new immigrants who identified a familiar Bengali family name in the local phone book. Those adults became Aunties and Uncles, and they and their children are still our chosen family now, decades later.

When Shoumita went to college at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she felt like a kid in a candy shop getting to meet folks from all over the world, engage in research, and take amazing classes. It was so different from where she grew up, but clearly it took because after her PhD at UCSF, she returned to the area as a new faculty member at BU. As an undergraduate, Dr. Dasgupta developed a strong interest in education and participated in teaching biology to MIT undergrads. After graduating from MIT and while she was conducting her dissertation research, her long-standing interest in education grew, and she began to concurrently pursue teaching opportunities in higher education. During this period, she taught not only at UCSF, but also at a local community college, which was a huge professional growth opportunity for her, helping her to properly understand the importance of making school relevant to learners who had been working all day and who then showed up at 6 pm for a 3 hour class outside of their academic concentration. To this day, she remains a huge fan of community colleges for all they do to make education more widely accessible.

After completing her PhD, Shoumita moved to Boston University’s School of Medicine to establish innovative curricula in the fields of genetics and genomics. She was attracted to BUSM because it allowed her to focus on her professional interests in education and mentoring within a diverse learning environment. Towards this end, Professor Dasgupta has been teaching both graduate and medical students on campus since 2003. She is particularly proud of a course she is teaching called Deconstructing Systemic Bias: Where Biology Ends and Bias Begins (GMS GE 706) in which she and the students explore the relationship between race, ethnicity, ancestry, sex, gender, ability status, and identity in order to debunk commonly held misconceptions.

In addition to this course, Shoumita is engaged in a wide array of anti-oppression work. Her ongoing projects aim to expose internalized biases against groups defined by race, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity and to provide educational tools to dismantle these biases with the goal of training an anti-oppressive scientific and clinical workforce. She is very excited to be extending this work by writing her first book; she is under contract with the University of California Press to write a book tentatively titled Where Biology Ends and Bias Begins: Lessons on Belonging from Our DNA, expected in late 2024 or early 2025.

Shoumita also serves as an Assistant Dean of Diversity & Inclusion and enjoys having the opportunity to work with students from their interview day to their graduation day and beyond.

When not thinking about DNA, Shoumita enjoys reading literature (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Life of Pi, Unaccustomed Earth, Tell the Wolves I’m Home, The Buddha in the Attic, Exhalation, Station Eleven, The Testaments, The Great Believers, Homegoing, Good Talk, The Book of Unknown Americans, A Little Life, Bewilderment, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow are a few favorites), spending time with her two daughters and husband, and getting out into nature.

Personal website:

Project Inclusive Genetics:

A few selected papers:

  • S Dasgupta (2020) An Anti-Racism Toolkit for the Genetics Educator. Genetics in Medicine. 22: 1911-1912.
  • K-A Green, R Wolinsky, SJ Parnell, D del Campo, AS Nathan, SE Kaplan, PS Garg, and S Dasgupta (2022) Deconstructing Racism, Hierarchy, and Power in Medical Education: Guiding Principles on Inclusive Curriculum Design. Academic Medicine. 97(6): 804-811. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000004531.
  • A Jungels, L Demers, E Ford, BK Stevens, M Sabatello, and S Dasgupta (2023) Project Inclusive Genetics: Protecting Reproductive Autonomy from Bias via Prenatal Patient-Centered Counseling. Human Genetics and Genomics Advances. doi: 10.1016/j.xhgg.2023.100228.