Dr. Jagannadha “Jay” Avasarala, a neurologist with extensive experience helping patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), is the featured guest in this week's Making the Rounds spotlight. Avasarala joined the UK HealthCare team in November 2018, making a return – after 23 years away – to the stomping grounds where he trained as an intern early in his medical career. Avasarala sees patients at the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute and is heavily involved in translational research to advance the diagnosis and treatment of MS.
Why did you want to become a doctor?
Medicine was easy to comprehend, compared to, say, math. You could read it and digest most of the information even when the Internet was not around. Therefore, it was an easy target to aim for. Once I joined medical school, physiology and pathology made the most sense given the cause/effect type of a relationship in health and disease.
Why did you choose to focus on neurology and multiple sclerosis?
Neurology is a field that is logical in the way it is laid out, although this is not always the case. As for multiple sclerosis being my focus, it is an interesting disease given its myriad presentation patterns, the age at which it strikes and the disability that it can cause. I encountered a patient with MS very early in my residency program who caught my eye – she was in her 20s and could not walk. That stuck in my mind about how disabling it could be very early in its course.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I enjoy working with patients to help them get back to the best they can be. The disease can be devastating, but hope that progress is being made to halt worsening status gives us all a reason to be optimistic. A cure is some ways off, but a lot of ground has been covered thus far.
Tell us about your family.
My wife, Shylaja Nuguri, is a pediatrician. Our son, Bhargav, is a data scientist in California. We travel when we have the time to do so and try to visit India once every couple of years, among other places.