Neurologist Jay Avasarala, MD, PhD, leads the multiple sclerosis (MS) and neuroimmunology team at the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute. For this edition of Making the Rounds, Dr. Avasarala discusses the relationship between research and patient care – and opens up about what keeps him going.
What led to your career-long focus on MS?
I had a patient in New York where I trained who had fascinating aspects of the disease all packaged in one young person. That kind of changed the way I thought about MS. MS strikes a person when they are in the prime of youth. There's a pediatric component, but by far and away, the phenotypical expression of MS occurs in the 20s, 30s.
Tell us about the role research plays in medicine.
For me, management of a disease, therefore the philosophy of it, comes from, you know, reading and learning about the disease – and you have to do it constantly. You have a patient in front of you. You do the best you can. You answer the questions, look at all the possibilities; you eliminate those possibilities and give them a correct diagnosis. And job number one is the diagnosis of the type, but always the diagnosis. But then to me, like I said, it's always the research behind that we are – and should be – interested in, and we're doing that.
How does research impact day-to-day care?
Because at the end of the day, finally, it's all about patients. Not about research. It's about a patient. It's about a living human being, and that is what I think completes the picture for me.
Watch our full interview with Dr. Avasarala.