Nandakumar Narayanan

Narayanan~NandakumarAge: 37

Occupation: Assistant Professor, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine

What’s the best advice you ever received: Pay attention to moments. They never happen again.

What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishments: Being able to care for my patients with Parkinson’s, who have a very complex mix of symptoms, both movement and non-motor related. I have medical training as well as research training, so I can appreciate the subtle mechanistic processes in their brains, and how they’re functioning or not functioning. I’m able to leverage my training and clinical insights to help in a very holistic way.

What do you know now that you wish you had known earlier in your career: Taking the time to do things right always saves you time.

What’s something people should know about your generation in the workplace: The pace of everything is faster than ever before, but we have to remember the reason we do everything – people.

If you had $1 million to give, what causes would you support: There are more than 10 million Americans with neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.  This number will double by 2030. These diseases have no cures and bad treatments. I’d give $1 million to basic research for these diseases.

What is your biggest passion: Thinking about neural systems. The nervous system is easily the most complicated in the known universe – each neuron gets input from 150,000 other neurons, and connects to several thousand others, and these are just little neurons. If you think about the problems our brains solve on a daily basis – speech, walking up steps, making coffee – as well as the other things we can do, like write books or create art, it’s staggering.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt: Mars rover driver.