Fellow Spotlight: Manaf Zawahreh, MD
The passions of Manaf Zawahreh, MD, lie in sleep, even if between his work and fatherhood, he isn’t getting much himself. Before departing to a new practice in Evansville, Indiana, Zawahreh, talks about sleep medicine, his new daughter, and his loves of cooking, dolphins, and table tennis.
When did you first get interested in neurology?
Neurology has always been a very interesting field for me. Between the art of clinical exam and localization provided by this field, the use of sophisticated technology, the advanced therapeutic and treatment methods, and the ability to establish a good relation with patients and their families, all left me with a strong desire fueled with passion for following my dream by becoming a neurologist; and so it was!
What led you to study sleep medicine?
Sleep Medicine is the most interesting field that I have ever encountered. Sleep is so important that it’s only second to oxygen and water in the pyramid of human necessities! This field combines knowledge and technology, and affects human health far more than what people think. Sleep must be perceived more seriously than just a state of brief dissociation from life and that’s my mission! Sleep disorders - if untreated- carry the same serious risk as any untreated medical condition. Without proper management the outcome could be fatal, in addition to reducing quality in all aspects of life. For me sleep is a large continent waiting to be discovered, I love adventures and would love to be onboard on the Columbus ship sailing to that new continent and discover the treasures hidden there!
What do you enjoy most about this field?
Sleep medicine is definitely one of the most rewarding fields of neurology, if not the most rewarding. You see patients improving in record times, and that’s what I enjoy the most!
What have been the most valuable aspects of the fellowship program for you?
Everything in Duke! From the world-class mentors, the supporting fellows, the smart residents, the highly trained technicians and the overall supportive collegial environment, not mentioning the huge diverse patient population with all different sleep related disorders. The added training in clinical neurophysiology makes this program truly exceptional and this fellowship a phenomenal experience.
Can you tell me a recent memory or experience that stands out in particular?
The arrival of our first baby girl Salma here at Duke definitely stands as the best part of my fellowship and shall remain the most beautiful experience of my entire life which I am glad it happened here at Duke. I am the proud parent of a “mini” Blue Devil!
What plans do you have for after completing your fellowship?
I will be moving to Evansville, Indiana and will be joining the Deaconess Health System where I will be practicing primarily Sleep Medicine and hopefully later will be able to introduce neurophysiology and epilepsy to my practice.
Can you tell me about the photo of yourself and a dolphin that you submitted?
My wife and I were in Cancun celebrating our anniversary and she surprised me with a trip to the Dolphinaris, where the photo was taken. It was the most beautiful gift I have ever received because I have always dreamed of seeing the dolphins and swimming with them and my wife made that dream come true.
Zawahreh poses with a new friend during a vacation in Cancun.
What do you like to do outside of the Department?
Cooking, cooking, and more cooking which you can easily tell from my external physique! Nothing in life brings me more joy than cooking for my wife and my loved ones. I am very skilled in various cuisines including Italian, Mexican, Indian and of course the Middle-Eastern, in fact if I meant to have a career other than Medicine then I would have chosen to become a chef. I recommend a book for a fabulous woman named Manal Al Alem. I'm not sure if there is an English translation of her book, but it's definitely worth it if you find one; she’s ranked "number one" in the Arab world.
Besides cooking I enjoy playing table tennis, although much less than what I used to as a teen and in my early 20s. Back in Jordan, where I come from, I was ranked 4th in the country. Sadly I don't have any medals, however.