A L U M N I P R O F I L E Pavan Grover, MD ’89: Spine Specialist and Filmmaker P D avan Grover, MD ’89, has two passions: medicine and movies. An unlikely pairing, perhaps, but he succeeds in melding them so that each enhances his enjoyment of the other. “Both are part of who I am,” says Dr. Grover, an anesthesiologist and interventional spine specialist. “My artistic side allows me to step outside myself, but medicine will always come first.” r. Grover was 6 years old when his family moved to New Jersey from New Delhi. He immersed himself in making home videos; he even starred as Batman with his younger brother, Sandeep, as Robin. Later, after the family moved to Houston, Dr. Grover returned to New Jersey and earned his undergraduate degree in the premed program at Rutgers University. He subsequently graduated from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School with honors in surgery and family medicine. The brothers were reunited when Dr. Grover returned to Houston for his residency in anesthesiology at the University of Texas Medical School. K A T E O ’ N E I L L B Y In his third year of residency, everything changed. Responding to a “code blue,” he found that the patient in cardiac arrest was Sandeep. Nothing could be done; his brother died in his arms. “It was heartbreaking,” he says. “I will never get over breaking the news to my parents, but I believe the experience helped me as a physician to know intimately what patients and families experience.” Dr. Grover turned to screenwriting as both a distraction and a solace, creating a screenplay, Lazarus Rising, on a mystical subject—the story of a doctor exploring the possibility of life after death. To develop experience in film production, he wrote a thriller, Unspeak- able, which was later produced with Dennis Hopper costarring and Dr. Grover playing a central role as a psychopath on death row. More work on films followed, including as an executive producer on an adaption of novelist Dean Koontz’s best-selling series, Odd Thomas, and an actor in Mr. Hell. Dr. Grover finds that film has made him a more empathetic physician. “With acting, writing, or any intense creative activity, you have to be totally in the moment,” he says. “Acting has sharpened my focus not just on my patients’ words but also on their presentation. Art deepens empathy. It helps me find the best way to explain the problem and how we’ll tackle it.” Meanwhile, in 1993, following his residency, Dr. Grover completed an interventional pain fellowship in Sydney, Australia, with the late Michael Cousins, MD, widely considered to be the father of interventional pain management. Working closely with Dr. Cousins, Dr. Grover mastered the technique of healing pain with what Dr. Cousins called regional neural blockades. In Dr. Grover’s Houston-based solo practice, Inovospine, he applies Dr. Cousins’s regional nerve-blocking techniques to “diagnostic mapping,” his 44 Robert Wood Johnson I MEDICINE