Top Doctors / Dr. Jayasree Nair, neonatologist
Bringing hope to newborns and their families
“BABIES ARE SO RESILIENT.” That is the great and abiding lesson learned over the medical career of Dr. Jayasree Nair, who sees the sickest of babies in her clinical practice as a neonatologist at John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital. The New Delhi-trained physician is also assistant professor of pediatrics at University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time, things go right. There is always hope. We might give the worst prognosis to a family. I love to be proven wrong,” says Nair, who moved here in 2005 (“I might as well be a Buffalonian,” she says), when her husband, Dr. Indrajit Majumdar, a pediatric endocrinologist, matched into a residency at Buffalo’s Children Hospital. She followed him, sitting out a year and a half while she completed her own qualifications and, by the way, had their first child, Vihaan, now a ninth-grader. His little sister Saanika is in kindergarten. “Their births were pre- and post-training,” says Nair, who admits to the challenge of trying to be a superwoman.
“I want to be the best physician, mom, teacher, and administrator. You have to plan ahead of time to do justice to all these roles. I might make mistakes. If so, I try not to repeat them.”
In 2012, Nair was recruited to join the UB medical faculty. It gave her the opportunity to realize a childhood dream. “When I was very young, I wanted to be a teacher. I realized I could be both a doctor and a teacher.” The daughter of a physician mother and a father who is a professor of public relations, she managed to combine both their professional endeavors, and, coincidentally and quite serendipitously, a deep love of children. Relocating to the US was motivated by a desire to provide more succor to the very young and very sick and their families.
“At the hospital where I trained in India, I learned a lot, but I also wanted to be able to do more,” says Nair, whose own clinical work and research includes a focus on an intestinal disease that can affect pre-term babies, necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC. She also supervises trainees as director of the Fellowship Program in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at UB, supporting the goal of better outcomes. “The problems some babies have at birth—there is so much we can do for them, so many advances in medical care.” Surveying long-term development for babies treated in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and identifying determinants of disease are among a wide array of research projects, all with the end result of improving care.
“We are trying to do the best we can with our babies,” says Nair, who was among a team of physicians who consulted on the design of the NICU at the new Children’s Hospital. “The unit is amazing. There are multiple facets to the improvements made, for example, within certain critical areas: actual clinical care and mom’s health. We have mostly single rooms, so families have more privacy. This facilitates breastfeeding and the whole bonding process. It also helps with infection control. In the old facility, if a mother needed care, we had to transfer her, away from her baby, to another medical facility. Here, we are connected by a bridge to adult hospitals.” The medical campus, with its connecting “coatless corridors,” she adds, has enabled many more collaborations with myriad specialists.
“I thrive in the NICU,” says Nair, who notes she is “very much at home” in high-intensity situations. “I love interacting with babies and their parents, and seeing many of them at our annual picnic—I may not recognize the babies, but always the moms. There is one boy I treated as a newborn. He’s ten now. Every year they look for me so they can take a picture with me. It is one bright thing that keeps me going in my work.”
Nair, Jayasree, MD
UBMD Pediatrics Outpatient Center / John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital
1001 Main St. – Floor 5
Buffalo, NY 14203