Claire Tucker, in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Office of Advancement, recently interviewed Dr. Knievel; excerpts are below.
Neurologist, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Ariz.
Dr. Knievel, from Fort Collins, got interested in neuroanatomy as a high-school figure skater curious about the scientific underpinnings of athletic performance. She followed that passion through a master’s degree in anatomy at CSU, then earned a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Missouri. She works at one of the world’s premier neurological specialty centers.
The quality of the MS-B program is the reason I excelled in medical school. The education I received there, especially from professors like Dr. Frasier and Dr. Fails, prepared me and pushed me.
One year makes a difference
My admission into the MS-B program at CSU was somewhat unconventional. When I graduated with my B.S., I was only 20 years old. No medical school wanted to admit someone who had never been tested in the real world. I called Dr. Mark Frasier and told him I needed a different path forward, and I was sitting in class the next Monday morning. I met some of my greatest friends in that program. We get together all across the country. It makes me feel connected to the biomedical world.
A focus on headaches
I have started a full headache program, helping to expand research and clinical options for those who suffer from headaches. Two weeks a month, I round with residents to see patients and help with procedures. On the other weeks, I am in the clinic seeing my patients. I enjoy the work immensely because it is challenging and ever-changing. Many of the patients I see have very acute conditions, and the day they come into the hospital may be one of the scariest of their lives. I try to remember that and respond to each patient and their family with deep empathy. And, of course, I do every clinical thing I can to alleviate their disease.
As I look forward, I hope to study some of the more nefarious causes of chronic headaches, such as cerebrospinal fluid leak. I also want to look into the pathophysiology of migraines, eventually implementing new modalities for treatment. Long-term, I would like to participate in research that looks at the genetic component of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Our hospital got $500,000 from the original Ice Bucket Challenge to further that research. It just goes to show you that grassroots fundraising can make a real impact on the pace of research.
Wellness begins with me
As a clinician, I have to prioritize my own wellness. I look at my clinical duties with as much optimism and gratitude as I can.