Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Rishi Goel is the child of immigrants from Lucknow, India. Growing up, Rishi was inspired by his grandfather—a professor of civil engineering - who brought scientific curiosity and wonder to everyday household tasks. In particular, they found a shared excitement in baking and spent their weekends together experimenting with new ingredients and methods to perfect their recipes.
Staying in Ann Arbor for college, Rishi graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a minor in applied statistics. Through his work at the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute, Rishi became fascinated by the immune system’s ability to learn and improve over time, and began to wonder how the immune system could be applied or engineered to treat disease. For his undergraduate thesis, Rishi designed and tested a novel therapeutic vaccine for food allergy that was able to re-train pathologic immune responses and suppress disease.
After his undergraduate education, Rishi earned a master’s degree in immunology from the University of Oxford. At Oxford, he was awarded highest distinction for his academic work and was a member of the Blues lacrosse team. He then completed an IRTA Fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, investigating new mechanisms of tissue damage in autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Rishi is currently an MD student at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to his clinical training, he is a research fellow in the laboratory of E. John Wherry. His recent work focuses on understanding immune responses to viral pathogens and has led to new insights into the development of immune memory after SARS-CoV-2 infection and mRNA vaccination. More broadly, he has been involved in launching the Immune Health Project at Penn, which aims to bring immune profiling into the clinic to better diagnose, treat, and prevent disease.
Rishi has published more than 20 academic papers, including first-author publications in Science, Cell, and Nature Medicine. During the pandemic, he has also been a leading science communicator on COVID vaccines, with regular contributions to major news outlets such as The Atlantic, Nature News, and NPR. He hopes to pursue a career as a physician-scientist, using the latest innovations in immunology research to improve patient care.