Dr. Neda Zadeh has a special nickname for her mentor at CHOC Children’s: Mom.
She and her mother, Dr. Touran Zadeh, are among CHOC’s medical geneticists, working together to treat children with developmental disabilities, congenital abnormalities, birth defects and genetic disorders.
“She has been my hero for so long,” the younger Zadeh says. “I probably don’t tell her enough. I have so much admiration for her.”
A long CHOC connection
The mother-daughter duo has worked alongside each other since 2010, when the younger Zadeh joined the CHOC genetics team full-time after completing her clinical genetics and molecular genetics fellowships at Stanford University and UCLA.
And in a way, she was coming home: As a young girl, Zadeh, who declared her dream of becoming a doctor when just in preschool, frequently accompanied her mother when she’d be called into work at CHOC on evenings and weekends.
“I always knew that I’d go and do genetics training and come back and join her practice,” the younger Zadeh says. “I grew up at CHOC. I can’t imagine working anywhere else.”
Early work challenges dissolve
Though both women acknowledge that learning to work together was challenging at first, the pair today easily functions as professionals first, and mother and daughter second.
But that doesn’t stop the younger Zadeh from marveling at her mother’s expertise, and bragging that mom can often make a correct diagnosis just by looking at a patient.
And the elder Zadeh, who has been at CHOC for about 30 years, says she also learns much from her daughter, especially when it comes to technology.
“I learned a lot of new stuff from Neda because her generation is more Internet- and computer- savvy,” she says. “Also, a lot of time I consult with her, just like anybody else in our profession would.”
A common care philosophy
The two also share a patient care philosophy: “My mother told me to always treat patients as though they were your family,” the younger Zadeh recalls. “That has really stuck with me. Every time I see a patient, I think of that. I think that’s the only way it can be.”
Though families are sometimes confused by seeing physicians with a resemblance and the same name, both women believe patients benefit from being under the care of a mother-daughter duo.
“When she’s with a patient who she thinks may have something that I’ve seen before, she gets me involved,” says the elder Zadeh. “In that respect, it’s good for patients.”
The next generation
Though they work side by side, the women try to see each other socially at least once a week – especially since the younger Zadeh’s first son was born almost two years ago.
The toddler has not yet declared an interest in becoming a physician, but the younger Zadeh admits she’d be thrilled if that desire ever materialized.
“Any parent would have to be happy if their child told them they wanted to follow in their footsteps,” she says.
It’s true: Just ask her mother.
“I am so proud,” the elder Zadeh says. “When Neda got the call that she got into medical school, she was really very happy. That was her longtime goal, and it was a dream come true.”
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