I decided that I wanted to be a doctor when I was very young, early in elementary school.
Also at an early age, I became very interested in the brain and how it works, how it is responsible for all those traits that make us human, and how it makes each of us into a unique individual.
I became so interested in those questions that as an undergraduate at Princeton University, I studied science and philosophy, with an emphasis on the philosophy of the mind and neuroscience. At one point, I thought I would be a pure researcher, and almost decided against medical school, but became convinced that some of the best research opportunities are found in medicine.
I pursued an MD/PhD at Cornell and Rockefeller University, allowing me both to treat patients and pursue neuroscience. At Cornell, I stumbled upon a new field, neurointerventional radiology, and was lucky enough to be accepted to a unique residency and fellowship program at New York University that provided cross-training in the various specialties that contribute to the field.
As a physician and scientist, I continue to be motivated by these two parallel drives. On the one hand, there is nothing like the gratification that comes with helping a child through a potentially devastating situation and seeing him or her thrive. When an infant patient, who faced a critical condition and underwent successful treatment, walks into my office years later as a healthy school-age child, there's a jolt of joy and pride that makes everything else pale in comparison. Additionally, the conditions we treat are so rare and tools we use so new, that we are often working in uncharted territory and creating novel treatment strategies. Working through that as a care team with my colleagues and with the parents is absolutely exhilarating.
At the same time, my early passion for research is still very much there. I am committed to research into brain function and am working on developing new tools to enable us to visualize brain activity as it happens, at high resolution. My dream is to someday find an imaging tool that can help answer some of the most subtle and complex questions about the language of the brain: how it encodes information, how it generates and recalls feelings, and how it makes us who we are.
I see patients in the relatively new subspecialty of pediatric neurointerventional radiology, an area in which we at Boston Children's Hospital have built one of the world's largest and most comprehensive practices. As the division chief of Interventional Radiology and the co-director of the hospital's Cerebrovascular Surgical and Interventions Center, my focus has been on children with neurovascular diseases and some cancers affecting the head and neck, using unique, guided approaches for treatment. I am passionate about making these novel treatment approaches, pioneered for use in adults, available to children. I am dual-trained as both a physician and scientist, having obtained my medical degree from Cornell University Medical College and my doctorate from Rockefeller University, in the Laboratory of Biophysics and Neurophysiology. At New York University Medical Center, I completed residencies in neurology and diagnostic radiology and fellowships in diagnostic and interventional neuroradiology. In my role as a leader of the hospital's Cerebrovascular Surgical and Interventions Center, I see children with conditions affecting blood vessels in and around the brain and the spine. I have worked closely with colleagues from Neurosurgery and Neurology to build an internationally recognized multidisciplinary group that tightly integrates all aspects of clinical care and outcomes research. In children with intracranial and extracranial vascular anomalies, we have pioneered the use of devices developed for adults, often in creative ways different from their original designed purpose. We create precision 3D models of patients' brains and blood vessels using data from their brain scans to help us plan procedures. We have demonstrated that it is possible to achieve high-quality image-guided treatment at low radiation doses. And new techniques are allowing us to safely access arteries even in the youngest patients. In addition, I treat patients with head and neck solid tumors, primarily retinoblastoma, at Boston Children's Hospital and the Dana Farber Institute. As division chief of Interventional Radiology, colleagues and I are exploring how we can further adapt techniques currently used in adults to help children with solid tumors, both for primary and secondary treatment, and for palliative treatment.