Med school grieves, copes

To his colleagues at the Yale School of Medicine, Vajinder Toor was a capable doctor and a family man whose life ended too soon.

Toor, 34, a first-year postdoctoral clinic fellow at the School of Medicine and Yale-New Haven Hospital, was fatally shot Monday outside his condominium in Branford, Conn., as he was heading to work. He is mourned by his colleagues, the Yale medical community, and his family.

“The shooting is tragic, and we are sorry to hear about it,” said Nancy Angoff SPH ’81 MED ’90, associate dean of student affairs at the School of Medicine.

Toor’s death is the second murder of a member of the School of Medicine community this school year; Annie Le GRD ’13, who was studying for a Ph.D. in pharmacology, was found dead in September in the Yale research facility where she worked.

Angoff said she does not know if the medical school is planning a memorial service for Toor because there has not been enough time to coordinate one since the shooting. School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern said counseling is available to members of the medical school community.

Toor worked in the infectious disease section of the School of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine. Vincent Quagliarello, the section’s director and one of Toor’s supervisors, described Toor as a good father and a hard worker. Quagliarello said that everyone in his department is doing everything possible to support one another.

Three postdoctoral fellows in the infectious disease section interviewed said they are grieving for Toor’s family. Amit Kunte, who worked closely with Toor to advise doctors on treatments for infectious diseases, said his colleague was simple and humble.

“He was not the type to confront anybody,” Kunte said.

Seventeen members of the Yale medical community who were interviewed said they were shocked by the murder. Nick Villalon MED ’10 said medical students have especially been shaken up by the tragedy after Le’s death last fall.

Although five people interviewed said they will be more careful about their safety in light of Toor’s death, the other 12 said they do not feel the need to be more vigilant because the murder did not take place on campus and was not related to Yale or the Annie Le case. Mathew Ventura, a genetic accountant at the medical school, said that while he is not too concerned about his safety, he will take a second look if anything appears strange.

“Absolutely, it’s a tragedy,” added Mark Kidd, a research scientist within the gastrointestinal surgery department .“I would like to think this is an abnormal event.”

While Toor’s murder has affected the Yale medical community, it has made less of an impact on the undergraduate population.

While two of nine undergraduates interviewed said they had not heard about the crime, eight said they had not talked about the murder with anyone and seven had not followed the recent developments in the case.

“This murder does not feel as intimate [as the Annie Le case] because it did not happen on Yale’s campus and also [was] to someone who was not a graduate student,” said Danny Hawkim ’10.

According to the School of Medicine Web site, Toor graduated in 2001 from the Guru Govind Singh Medical College in Punjab, India, and in 2008 from Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in New York.

He is survived by his wife, Parneeta Sidhu, who is six months pregnant, and their three-year-old son.

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