In Practice: Vivek Deshmukh, M.D., FACS
Providence profiles Vivek Deshmukh, M.D., FACS, medical director of Providence Neurointerventional Services and neurosurgeon with The Oregon Clinic-Microneurosurgical Division
Cross-trained in both neurosurgery and endovascular approaches; more than 20 oral presentations at medical conferences; 40 published papers in peer-reviewed journals; principal investigator for multiple National Institutes of Health-sponsored studies; multiple patents for innovative surgical devices
Director of cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurgery at The George Washington University Hospital; three fellowships and residency at Barrow Neurological Institute
How did you achieve all this before age 40?
I was able to skip two grades in school, so I graduated high school at 16 and medical school when I was 24. Since then, I’ve focused on becoming the best at my chosen subspecialty.
Where did you grow up?
In Melbourne, Florida. My father was an electrical and computer engineering professor and my mother was a school teacher. I have two brothers who are both neurosurgeons.
What’s the best recent advancement for treating stroke?
We now have devices that can reopen blocked blood vessels in the brain with greater speed, safety and efficacy than in the past. This has revolutionized acute stroke care.
What’s the one medical invention you’d like to see?
I would like to see a device or drug that protects the brain from permanent injury during an acute stroke. This would limit brain damage and make our treatments more effective.
Why did a blogger once refer to you as “the neurosurgeon more powerful than Cheney”?
Shortly after the 2006 election, when Democrats gained control of Congress with a one-vote majority, democratic Senator Tim Johnson suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage caused by an arteriovenous malformation. I was the surgeon in that case.
There was speculation that if his seat were vacated, a Republican appointee may replace him, leaving Vice President Dick Cheney to cast any tie-breaking votes. Senator Johnson recovered and went back to work in the U.S. Senate.
Is that how you became Washington’s informal “brain analyst”?
I gave updates to the reporters from the Washington Post and other news outlets during Sen Johnson’s illness. The paper later interviewed me regarding Ted Kennedy’s glioma, Gabby Giffords’ brain injury and Hillary Clinton’s intracranial clot.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Spend time with my lovely wife and two sons. I am also an avid runner.
If you weren’t a doctor, what would you be?
A medical researcher and entrepreneur.
What’s your career highlight?
A young patient for whom I repaired a bleeding brain vascular malformation went on to have a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby boy. She sent me a birth announcement, and I noticed that she had named her son after me.