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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Rupa Marya, Revelle '97, M.D.

Renaissance Woman. If you ask Rupa Marya, Revelle ’97, M.D., whether she’s more left-brained or right-brained, she would answer that she’s both. In fact, we all are according to Marya, who received her B.A. in theatre and her B.S. in biochemistry and cell biology from UCSD. Now, she puts both degrees (plus an M.D. from Georgetown) to good use as a doctor and assistant professor of Internal Medicine at UCSF, and as a composer and lead singer of her band, Rupa & the April Fishes. 

“Art and science are ways of coming to understand our place in the world and to experience the unknown. How people think scientifically is an incredibly creative process,” says Marya.

Born in San Francisco to Punjabi immigrants, Marya grew up in the U.S., France and India. These global experiences not only shape her band’s music—a kaleidoscopic blend of gypsy, French, Latin, reggae, Indian and other worldly sounds—but also her own personal border-defying, multidisciplinary philosophy. Marya is most comfortable simultaneously occupying multiple spaces.

Both of her career pursuits, she says, keep her checked in with her sense of humanity and humility. “I feel more sensitive to my patients when I come back from being on the road [with the band] and more sensitive to my audience after being in the hospital. Both allow an exchange of human experience.”

Marya says her theatre degree and training has prepared her the most for her dual careers. “If I had known when I was 12 that I could do what I’m doing now,” says Marya, “it would have saved me a lot of heartache.”