Oct. 24, 2019

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UMMC faculty welcome speech-language pathologist, peds gastroenterology fellow

Medical Center leadership is proud to announce the following additions to its faculty and leadership staff.

Natalie Bhesania, M.D.

Portrait of Natalie Bhesania

Dr. Natalie Bhesania, recently a pediatric gastroenterology fellow at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, has joined the Medical Center faculty as an assistant professor of pediatrics.

After receiving her Honors Bachelor of Biological Sciences from Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, in 2011, Bhesania earned her M.D. at the Windsor University School of Medicine, St. Kitts and Nevis, in 2012. She had pediatric residency training from 2013-16 and a pediatric gastroenterology fellowship from 2016-19 at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, Ohio.

An active member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Bhesania is the author or coauthor of three articles in peer-reviewed publications, two book chapters, five abstracts presented at scientific conferences and six case reports. Her research interests include correlation of lysosomal acid lipase activity with severity of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and colitis in pediatric and young adult patients with progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis before and after liver transplantation.


Rinki Varindani Desai, M.S.

Portrait of Rinki Desai

Rinki Varindani Desai, a medical speech-language pathologist for HealthPRO-Heritage, Dallas, Texas, has joined the Medical Center faculty as an instructor in otolaryngology and communicative sciences. Desai is a certified brain injury specialist, certified dementia practitioner and adult dysphagia specialist.

After receiving her B.S. in audiology and speech-language pathology in 2009 from the Ali Yavar Jung National Institute of Speech and Hearing Disabilities, Mumbai, India, Desai earned her M.S. in communicative disorders at the University of Texas at Dallas’ School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences in 2011. She completed her fellowship and specialized as an acute care medical speech-language pathologist at Select Specialty Hospital, Dallas, from 2011-15 and later worked in the subacute rehabilitation and long-term care settings for HealthPRO – Heritage from 2016-19.

Co-chair of the Website, Public Relations and Communications Committee for the Dysphagia Research Society, Desai is an active member of several professional organizations, including the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders and the Indian Speech and Hearing Association. She is founder of the Medical SLP Forum that boasts a membership of more than 40,000 medical speech-language pathologists worldwide; co-founder and instructor for the Swallowing Training and Education Portal online learning platform; and co-creator of the Dysphagia Therapy mobile app for clinicians working with swallowing disorders. A winner of six ASHA ACE awards, Desai has also been among 40 clinicians selected for ASHA’s Leadership Development Program and. more recently. ASHA’s Faculty Development Program.

The author of several blog posts, articles and manuscripts for leading SLP websites and publications, Desai has presented research posters and talks at several scientific meetings nationally and internationally and serves as associate editor for the ASHA SIG 13 Perspectives journal. She has been interviewed for several SLP podcasts, has supervised students and lectured graduate students on topics related to swallowing disorders in adults.

Her clinical research interests include projects related to dysphagia graduate education in the U.S.; dysphagia practices among speech-language pathologists in India; and the use of neuromuscular electrical stimulation in adult dysphagia management.