Name: Jennifer Harris, MD
Hometown: Berlin, Germany
Current Affiliation: Columbia University Medical Center

Q: What made you interested in a career in stroke?

A: It was a combination of factors. I was a psychology major in my undergraduate studies and became totally fascinated with behavioral neurology in medical school. During my neurology rotation, I was drawn to the acute care aspect of stroke neurology. I found stroke neurology especially clinically rewarding in light of the expanding treatment options available for stroke patients. It is breathtaking to await the next stroke trial that pushes the boundaries of innovation and treatment.

I also enjoy the multidisciplinary aspect of stroke care, which allows me to work closely with emergency medicine, radiology, vascular surgery, neurosurgery, cardiology, rehabilitation medicine, and community services.

Lastly, I find it especially rewarding to take care of stroke patients. To go from normal to being unable to communicate, walk, or see half of the world in an instant is devastating. The passion that I developed for stroke care and the interest in improving outcomes stems from caring for stroke patients.

Q: What has been your career path into this field?

A: I had just finished my undergraduate studies in psychology when I started volunteering as a research assistant at an urban emergency medicine department in New York City. This sparked my interest in medicine, and I soon enrolled into a post-baccalaureate program. Two years later, I started medical school at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago and eventually completed a neurology residency at Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston. With a research interest in health disparities, I am currently pursuing my stroke fellowship at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

Q: Who is your stroke mentor or stroke hero?

A: My stroke hero is Olajide A. Williams, MD, who has dedicated his career to studying and eliminating disparities in stroke care.

Q: What is a piece of advice you would give to a trainee?

A: My advice for residents interested in a vascular neurology fellowship is that they express interest early on to the program director and staff members in the sub-specialty. In that way, they can support the trainee during residency and may also be able to put them in touch with others who might be able to help them.

Q: What is your favorite hobby or way of de-stressing?

A: My favorite pastimes include traveling and watching unsolved murder mysteries.

Q: What is your favorite place to travel to?

A: My favorite country to travel to is Spain, although I recently traveled to Morocco and absolutely loved it.