It was in high school that the teenager who won the science fair in the city of Chicago -- she dealt with how fertilizer works on plants -- began to think about a career in medicine. “I wasn’t sure that’s what I wanted but I was intrigued by science, says Dr. Ahad, who also became her high school student body president.
While she may not have been sure that she wanted a career in medicine as she graduated with high honors from a small all-girls Catholic High School, she won a spot in a prized eight year program at the University of Illinois that led to a medical degree -- a program that allowed her to combine her love of social science along with her love of formal and natural science. During her third year of medical school she took a year off from school to decide whether she really wanted to be a physician. She traveled to China, learning about the culture there, largely in small towns. And she also did research on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, at nearby Northwestern University. The time studying a disease that causes the death of neurons controlling voluntary muscles helped her realize that she truly wanted to become a doctor.
“I saw medicine as a way that I could really help people,” she says. “Helping others has always been important in my family.”
During her second year of medical school, while in a neuroanatomy course studying the brain, she realized that wanted to specialize in neurology. As a neurologist she could treat disorders that affect the brain, spinal cord and nerves. “At first I thought it would be in adult neurology but I realized after a couple rotations that I loved working with children more.”
Her neurology residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital convinced her she had made the right decision. There were, she says, brilliant people all wanting to find the best treatments for people. “It was an honor to be there. There was a kind of magic to the place.”
After her training at Johns Hopkins, she felt confident diagnosing, treating and managing conditions that include: seizures and epilepsy; autism; developmental disorders such as cerebral palsy; and disorders such as ADHD and Tourette Syndrome.
Because of the growing problem with autism, Dr. Ahad completed a fellowship at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, learning even more about the spectrum disorder which affects 1 in 59 children born in the United States.
In 2014 she joined the University of Nevada Reno School of Medicine. In 2017 she came to the UNLV School of Medicine. Active in teaching students and residents in the clinic setting, she has been involved in inner city free clinics providing healthcare to the underserved population as well as working with a teen mentorship program for students interested in the medical field.
Today, she largely spends her time at both the UNLV Medicine Center for Pediatrics and UNLV Medicine Ackerman Center for Autism.
The work done at the UNLV Medicine Ackerman Center for Autism makes her wish it could be replicated around the country.
“I would like to see more multidisciplinary clinics like that at the Ackerman Center, where children with disabilities can be evaluated by multiple clinicians at one time and the clinicians can come together to create a treatment plan. I think taking a multidisciplinary approach is the gold standard or the best way to diagnose children, especially if we have a complex child and the family is unsure of the diagnosis.”
To make an appointment with Dr. Ahad: (702) 660-UNLV