Featured Faculty Fridays: Seenu Hariprasad, MD

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Shui-Chin Lee Professor Seenu Hariprasad, MD, wears many hats here in the Department of Ophthalmology.  He is Chief of the Vitreoretinal Service, Director of Clinical Research, and Director of Fellowship in the Diseases and Surgery of the Retina, Macula, and Vitreous.  Besides caring for patients in clinic and in the operating room, Dr. Hariprasad teaches residents, fellows, and Pritzker students, conducts clinical research, and speaks at conferences around the world.  “What I love most about working at the University of Chicago is that no two days are the same,” he explains. “Academia is a dynamic environment that offers endless opportunities.” How does he manage his busy schedule?  “The key to success is the ability to multitask,” Dr. Hariprasad advises.

Dr. Hariprasad knew at a young age that he would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a physician.  As a child, he spent a lot of time seeing patients with his father, a nephrologist in Hornell, New York.  “During this time, my father would teach me about the human body,” Dr. Hariprasad describes.  “Believe it or not, I read the entire Gray’s Anatomy textbook in the fourth grade! I never considered any other career besides medicine.”

Over a decade ago, Dr. Hariprasad was recruited to the University of Chicago.  “I jumped at the opportunity to join his side and work at a great institution like the University of Chicago,” he explains. “I have been here for eleven years, and hope to be here for decades to come.  I could not imagine being anywhere else!”

What is your favorite part of being an ophthalmologist?  “I have the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of my patients on a daily basis.  Many patients that I see have severe blinding diseases.  The tools we have today can help these patients better than ever before, and, as a vitreoretinal surgeon, I get to deal with the most innovative pharmacologic interventions, the finest surgical devices, and breathtaking imaging technologies.  Also, the colleagues that I work with in my department are one of a kind—I have never seen another field in medicine filled with such personality and talent.”

Where can you be found on the weekends? “Nothing gives me greater happiness than spending time with my beautiful wife, Jaya, and our two daughters, 14 year-old Anya and 12-year old Ishani. One of our favorite family activities is riding our bikes together up and down the trails alongside Lake Michigan, which is just two blocks from our house in Hyde Park.”

What would people be most surprised to learn about you?  “When I was walking through Washington Park and helped Sasha Obama back onto her bike after she fell off.  At the time, then-Senator Obama and I waved at each other and kept going our separate ways.”

Any final thoughts about the future of ophthalmology?  “It will always be the greatest specialty in Medicine.  It is a privilege to do what we do and I remember this every day in my work.”