2014 Top Doctor: Raun Melmed, MD

Written by PM Staff Category: Profiles Issue: April 2014
Group Limited


Med School/Year Graduated: University of Cape Town, 1974
Years in Practice: 32

Who or what inspired you to enter the field of developmental pediatrics?  
Growing up in South Africa made one acutely aware of the differences  among people during a time when apartheid attempted to divide them from one another. I resolved to work towards celebrating those differences, focusing on those with developmental challenges.
What distinguishes developmental pediatrics from general pediatrics?
Some day all pediatricians might indeed become developmental pediatricians! Until then, those specializing in our field utilize a biopsychosocial model – understanding that development results from a complex interaction between a child’s innate individuality, the environment into which they are born and the community within which they live.

You co-founded the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) here in the Valley. What are the goals of the organization?
SARRC’s goals are to advance research and provide a lifetime of support for individuals with autism and their families. SARRC provides services and support to children and families affected by autism, while searching for answers through research to solve the mysteries surrounding the disorder.

What, in your opinion, is the most credible theory for higher autism rates in recent decades?
Is it simply old wine in new bottles?  Newer labels and definitions which result in diagnostic substitution are certainly factors.  Toxic pollution of our planet, infectious causes and disordered autoimmune processes are all theoretical culprits leading to the increase.

“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be...”
An actor! The unfolding human drama parading through my office on a day-to-day basis is what nourishes me – being privy to the joys and tears of the families and their children. So if not in real life, I’d choose the stage!