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Speaker Highlight: Meet Dr. Uzma Syed, Infectious Disease Specialist

Updated: Apr 1, 2021

Each month, we choose one of our past speakers and take a look into their journey and the small steps they took in their life which led to their big goals.

Dr Uzma Syed is a NY based board-certified Infectious Disease specialist with an Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee position as well as Infection Prevention committee who is well-published in pneumonia-related research. She teaches students in high school, college and medical school as well as medical residents about her specialty. She sits on the Inclusion, Diversity, Access & Equity Task Force of the Infectious Disease Society of America. Dr Syed has established and leads the COVID-19 Task force in several LI hospitals.

Dr Syed has been featured as an expert on several media outlets on Infectious Diseases.

Dr Syed cares passionately about education. She is the founder & CEO of a non-profit called Align Us which provides mentorship & career development for high school students. She serves on two school committees (safety & business advisory). She’s a community and youth leader with a focus on teen initiatives as a member of the Interfaith Council of Syosset-Woodbury-Jericho.

Dr Syed co-founded the Eid Holiday Coalition Long Island and founded the National Eid Coalition helping over 2 dozen school districts get Eid holidays. Dr Syed serves on the Nassau County Police Commissioner’s Community Council, she was recognized by the Legislature as a female trailblazer, and campaigned for a Syosset school board trustee position.

Her humanitarian work has spanned refugee resettlement to annual school supply and holiday toy drives to serving at soup kitchens. Dr Syed has volunteered with UNICEF for children’s rights and the UNGA to help promote mobile health to underserved countries.

Dr Syed’s work has been covered by numerous media outlets including BBC, CBS, ABC,Fox 5, Pix11,New 12, Fios, Newsday, Syosset Advance, Jericho Tribune and more.

1. Explain what you do in your work in one sentence (or two!).

​I’m an Infectious Diseases physician, I see patients both in the hospital and

in the office. I diagnose and treat many conditions, some things can be straightforward and simple while others very complex. I practice travel medicine, screening and guidance for travelers to ensure they have an optimal experience abroad and take the necessary precautions. I am the Chair of the COVID-19 task force for my hospital, I also lead the Infection Prevention committee and the Antimicrobial stewardship committee which ensures that antibiotic use is monitored to combat resistant bacteria (superbug) growth.

2. What are the best ways to contain the pandemic at this point?

The strategies which work effectively are the tried and true measures, wearing a mask has been shown to significantly reduce transmission, even with asymptomatic carriers. Recent studies have shown that approximately 40% of people can be asymptomatic. Practicing good hand hygiene, washing hands. Maintaining distance and if living in an area which is a hotspot, limit activities and large gatherings.

3. Should people still be taking precautions like changing their clothes after going to the grocery store?

​Infectious droplets can be on clothing or surfaces if a person coughs/sneezes near/on you. The most common way of transmitting the virus is by droplet spread with face-to-face direct contact. The best precautions are really mask wearing, avoid touching mask/face and washing hands as soon as you get home.

4. Do you have any rules/recommendations around not touching your face while traveling, or not touching certain areas?

It’s a very common practice, you need to think that everything you touch is contaminated and therefore your hands are contaminated and get into the habit of not touching your face/eyes/nose.

5.When did you first become interested in your field? During my residency, I had an elective in Infectious Diseases and on the very first day it was bliss. I loved everything about it, the detective work, getting the accurate diagnoses and then having the correct treatment to cure people.

6. What is your favorite part of being a scientist or of science in general?

I love learning about pathogens and this novel coronavirus is a perfect example. There is something new to learn about this virus every day. The more we uncover, like a mystery, the closer we get to understanding it.

7. What is a typical day like for you as a scientist?

I have an extremely busy work life. I work at 2, sometimes 3 hospitals in a day, caring for patients. Some days I will balance hospital and office schedules. I will have several meetings in the mix for my committees, my clinical trials. The work doesn’t end when I come home, the research continues, the learning always continues.

8. Do you have any advice for young people interested in science today?

Follow your passion. You have to love what you do to keep getting up and going to work everyday. find a mentor, ask questions, always be hungry for more knowledge and growth.