Hello, I’m Steven Pavlakis, and I received my medical degree at Brown University. I attended a seven-year medical program that I got into after high school. It was a great experience because it was very scientifically based and I had fortunately a good high school education. So putting it together, I was very fortunate to have an incredible education that I didn’t really plan out. It just sort of came to me. After that, I left Providence and did my training at Columbia in both Pediatrics and Pediatric Neurology. At the time it was called Babies’ Hospital was the pediatric hospital, now it’s called Morgan Stanley. So it’s become corporate. And the Neurological Institute still is called the Neurological Institute. And that’s where I did my Pediatric Neurology training. And I worked there as an Attending for about 10 years. At that time, I became very interested in mitochondrial diseases, which are relatively rare.
We described one mitochondrial disease called Milus, but mitochondrial diseases are diseases that affect certain cells in our bodies. These cells are called mitochondria and the mitochondria are the energy factory of our body. So we need them for energy, for making all the energy products that feed us. And there were diseases that affected those cells and these diseases are called mitochondrial cells. And we first described one in 1984 called Milus. It was at Columbia. So that was kind of an important seminal observation that sort of set off a whole new field. Unfortunately, those diseases still are not very well treated, even though that was a very early-on thing. So these patients have stroke-like episodes, not real strokes, but something like stroke. And it was a fascinating disorder. During that time, we also basically did a lot of work on sickle cell disease and showed that sickle cell diseases have lots of strokes and big blood vessel strokes, which really wasn’t known for 40 years before that.
And because of that work and other work that others have done, we now basically can prevent sickle cell stroke in most patients. Not all, but most patients. And that started by 2000. So my work was in the eighties through the nineties and by 2000, 2010, we’ve effectively stopped stroke in sickle cell, most of the time. And that was a major thing, cause that was a very common medical problem in communities in the US, mostly African-American communities, but there is sickle cell in non African-American men, especially in other countries. So this was a major thing we did. So after that, I was interested in pediatric stroke in general and genetics, and have carried on that and blood flow to the brain. And that’s been my major research interest. Clinically, I’m interested in everything, general pediatric neurology, including genetics and stroke and sickle cell, I guess, as well. And I’ve enjoyed writing and I’ve written over a hundred papers that have been published and editing and writing editorials and sort of been very fascinated by this. And exactly why I got into this I don’t know, but I like writing and I like seeing children and neurology just seemed fascinating to me, and it has been a great ride. And as long as we can help move the field forward and help take care of our patients, it’s all good.