The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine’s community is remembering an Indian doctoral candidate who was tragically shot and found inside a vehicle on the Western Hills Viaduct on November 9. Aaditya R. Adlakha, a 26-year-old, succumbed to his injuries at UC Medical Center, as confirmed by the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office.
Aaditya was discovered with gunshot wounds inside his car at the junction of the Western Hills Viaduct and Central Parkway in the early morning hours just before sunrise. He was declared dead on the morning of November 11. The incident occurred around 6:20 a.m. as Aaditya was driving on the Western Hills Viaduct, where gunfire erupted, striking his vehicle multiple times. The driver’s side window bore at least three bullet holes, and Shot Spotter recorded the discharge of 12 bullets, according to police radio traffic.
Cincinnati Police found Aaditya just before 6:30 a.m. in a white Toyota Prius, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Although the police acknowledged the victim’s unfortunate demise, they refrained from providing additional details at that time.
Concerned motorists alerted 911 after spotting a vehicle riddled with bullet holes and an injured individual inside, according to authorities. Aaditya Adlakha was swiftly transported to UC Medical Center, where his condition remained critical for several days. As of now, no arrests have been made in connection with the incident.
Aaditya, employed in the Division of Pain Management’s Department of Anesthesiology at Cincinnati Children’s, was a fourth-year doctoral student in the molecular and developmental biology graduate program. Originally from north India, he came to Cincinnati to pursue further studies in medicine. Last year, Aaditya received a grant and stipend to support his research on ulcerative colitis.
Having graduated from Ramjas College at the University of Delhi in New Delhi with a bachelor’s degree in zoology in 2018, Aaditya continued his academic journey at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, obtaining a master’s in physiology in 2020. He joined UC’s doctoral program in the fall of the same year and was on track to complete his doctorate in 2025.
Dr. Andrew T. Filak Jr., senior vice president for health affairs and dean of the College of Medicine, issued a statement expressing the following: “Today, you may have come across news reports regarding his sudden, tragic, and senseless death. Those acquainted with him, as well as fellow students and others who may not have had the privilege to meet Aaditya, may undergo a range of reactions, which are both understandable and expected.”
The statement continued, emphasising, “Grief does not adhere to a specific timeline. It is crucial that we support ourselves and one another as we navigate the sorrowful loss of Aaditya, remembering him as a friend, student, and colleague. Aaditya was deeply cherished, remarkably kind and humorous, intellectually sharp, and his research was acclaimed as innovative and transformative. His work focused on advancing our understanding of neuroimmune communication and the potential contributions of neuroimmune interactions to pain and the inflammatory aspects of ulcerative colitis.”
The statement further conveyed, “As a college and as Aaditya’s academic home, we offer our sincerest condolences to his family and to those who knew him as a friend and colleague.”
In August 2022, Aaditya Adlakha assumed the role of secretary for the university’s Health Sciences Graduate Association. Through his involvement in this association, he secured funding for his summer research project in the Jankowski Lab, titled “Immunomodulatory Role of Nociceptive Neurons in Ulcerative Colitis.” This funding was obtained through the University Research Council Graduate Student Stipend and Research Cost Program for Faculty-Student Collaboration Award.
Anirudh Chhabre, the former president of the Indian Student Association and a resident in the same building as Aaditya, expressed, “It’s also kind of demotivating, like, OK, do we really want to, like, put our life at risk, you know, to be able to get quality education? Because I don’t think education should have stressors like these come along with it.”
Aaditya Adlakha’s neighbor in his Clifton apartment building, who worked in the lab adjacent to his at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati, declined to be interviewed. However, she described him as a genuinely kind and optimistic individual. The distance between his residential building and the crime scene is approximately two miles.
In an email addressed to the institution’s students, UC conveyed the unfortunate news of Aaditya Adlakha’s passing, emphasising that he would “always be a Bearcat” in reference to the football program. The university also extended counseling services to those in need. The exact location of the shooting, whether on Central Parkway or the viaduct, remains uncertain. However, according to Cincinnati municipal data, this incident marked the first shooting in that area since 2016, and the motive behind it remains unclear.
City figures reveal a total of 298 gunshots in Cincinnati as of November 3, a decrease from the 370 incidents reported during the same timeframe in 2022. The police are actively seeking information in this case and encourage anyone with tips to contact Crime Stoppers at the provided number. All calls and tips can be submitted anonymously.