This week, we’re going to highlight one of our great Community Neuroscience Neurologists! Today, we get to meet our sleep specialist neurologist, Dr. Anthony Izzo.
Dr. Izzo, what inspired you to become a neurologist?
“In medical school, you get to spend two years trying out different specialties to see which you like the best, and at first, I wanted to practice nearly all of them! I remember believing I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon, an adult primary care physician, a general surgeon, a gastroenterologist, and a psychiatrist! Then I did my neurology rotation and instantly fell in love. Neurologists get to figure out diagnostic puzzles that other doctors struggle with, which is always fun and challenging.”
What do you find the most rewarding aspect of being a neurologist?
“I’m primarily a sleep specialist, and I find treating every sleep disorder very rewarding, from common disorders like sleep apnea to rare conditions like narcolepsy. Once the patient and I arrive at a treatment plan that works for them (which can take some trial and error), the treatments have enormous positive impacts on patients’ quality of life. “
If you could have a superpower related to neurology, what would it be and why?
“Mind reading. Often times, neurologic symptoms are difficult and frustrating to describe. Being able to read my patients’ thoughts or even feel what they are feeling would make life 1000 times easier for myself and for the patients.”
Outside of work, what are your hobbies or interests?
“I find cooking very fun and relaxing; I’m an accomplished home cook and I love helping to expose my three sons to new flavors and cuisines. I’m Italian-American, and my favorite dish to cook for friends and family is bucatini al’amatriciana, but I enjoy making (and eating) a variety of different foods. I also very much enjoy camping, hiking, kayaking, and reading fiction.”
What is your favorite sleep disorder to study or treat, and why?
“I really enjoy treating narcolepsy. It’s fascinating to think about the effect on wakefulness and sleep that one missing neurotransmitter (orexin) can cause. The symptoms are debilitating, but the good news is that we have a number of really effective treatments to restore the normal balance of sleep and wake to make a huge difference in patients’ lives.”
If you could give one piece of advice to patients to promote brain health, what would it be?
“Move! Tons of studies show a direct link between cardiovascular exercise (especially weight training) and brain health. I try to go to the gym three times a week before work to keep my brain healthy long-term (although I admit that some mornings are harder to be motivated than others).”
What is one misconception or myth about neurology that you would like to debunk?
“That all neurologists are nerds or weirdoes. We’re all pretty normal people, especially the other docs I get to work with here at Community Neuroscience Services. And only one of us regularly wears a bowtie!”
If you weren’t a doctor, what other profession do you think you would have pursued?
“For a long time, I debated between going to medical school and culinary school, so if I weren’t a physician, I probably would have become a chef.”