In this issue, HCV Next asks five questions of Ravi Jhaveri, MD, FIDSA, FPIDS, associate professor of Pediatrics in the division of Infectious Diseases at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Jhaveri received his BA in history from Boston University, where he also played on the varsity tennis team. He completed his MD at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 1996. It was then to the University of Chicago for a residency in Pediatrics, followed by a fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA.
Jhaveri’s professional career took him to the Duke University Medical Center, where he spent the better part of a decade teaching in the departments of Pediatrics, Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Molecular Genetics & Microbiology. Some of his honors include the Fellow Teaching Award at Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA, the American Liver Foundation/American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Sheila Sherlock Translational Research Award and the Duke Global Health Institute Seed Travel Award. He is board certified in Pediatrics and Pediatric Infectious Diseases.
Who has had the greatest influence on your career?
This might sound a bit cliché, but I have been fortunate to work with many special people over the course of my career and have tried to adopt their best traits. I have modeled my clinical care and teaching after Paul Krogstad, MD, and James Cherry, MD, both of the department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA. I have modeled my research habits after John McHutchison, MD, senior vice president of Liver Disease Therapeutics at Gilead Sciences; Anna Mae Diehl, MD, Florence McAlister Professor of Medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine; Asim Dasgupta, PhD, professor of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; as well as Krogstad. I have modeled how I treat my colleagues after Sam Katz, MD, Wilburt Cornell Davison Professor and Chairman Emeritus of Pediatrics at Duke University.
I also paid attention to all those individuals that did things I promised myself I would never do. Those lessons were also very powerful.
What was the defining moment that led your field?
As a first year fellow in pediatric infectious diseases, I was deciding on a topic for my research project. I decided on basic research and discussed opportunities with Dasgupta at UCLA. His lab was working on HCV among other things and I thought the work sounded really interesting. As I began to learn more about HCV, I realized there was so much opportunity to treat and study HCV in infants, children and pregnant women. I also realized that there was no one else in my specialty doing this work and very few others in general. It became a natural niche for me and now, almost 20 years later, I am still involved in the work.
What area of research in hepatology interests you?
I am in pediatrics and have always had an interest in mother-to-infant transmission of HCV. I am so excited by the possibility of being able to use antivirals to potentially interrupt this mode of transmission. The overwhelmingly favorable profile of these drugs has the potential to eliminate the concerns that people have had about treating pregnant women and infants. I see it as my job to continue to advocate for steps toward this goal.
What advice would you offer a student in medical school today?
I would offer two pieces of advice. The first is to find your passion. If you are doing what you are most passionate about on a daily basis, you will be better apt to navigate the challenges and difficulties that you face. The second is to take the long view to your career and constantly look to build your skills and engage in tackling the unanswered questions. Seasoned clinicians and researchers will often talk about how they have had to reinvent themselves several times over the course of their career. Be prepared for this and embrace it.
Have you ever witnessed or been part of medical history in the making?
When I started medical school, HIV was essentially a death sentence, with many infected children dying in the first year or 2 of life. Many brave people confronted the criticism and conducted the studies that ultimately showed that if you gave [azidothymidine] to a pregnant woman with HIV and also gave it to her infant child, you could dramatically reduce the risk for transmission. These results allowed for the protocols to continuously improve so that virtually no infant in the United States is born with HIV. The studies also offered a road map for how to tackle other viral infections (like HCV) that are transmitted from mother to infant.