PATRICK DEMPSEY

Grey's Anatomy

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Inspires Young Scientist’s Alzheimer’s Breakthrough

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Patrick Dempsey isn’t a doctor, he just played one on TV.

But his portrayal of Derek Shepherd — a neurosurgeon determined to unlock the mysteries of the brain — inspired a 17-year-old Grey's Anatomy fan to make what seems like a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research.

Swathi Srinivasan, of Beachwood, Ohio, started watching the ABC hit during her fifth grade year of school. And immediately she became obsessed with McDreamy, much like many other Grey’s fans.

Swathi wasn’t just drawn to his looks, though she’s not blind to them — “He is very physically attractive, yes,” she tells WEWS — she was also drawn to his talent.

“Here was this dude that could do neurosurgery and Alzheimer’s research, and to me, that was very fascinating,” she says.

Grey’s Anatomy nicknames, Addison Montgomery, Kate Walsh, Derek Shepherd, Patrick Dempsey
Credit: Vivan Zink/ABC    

It was Derek’s passion for the work that inspired Swathi.

“He loved it, and I saw that love, and I thought, ‘I want to feel that way about something, I want to be so passionate about something,’” she remembers.

So Swathi followed in the TV doc’s footsteps and studied Alzheimer’s.

“To know so little about something that affects one in every nine people above the age of 65, that’s something we obviously have to change,” she says.

Finally, the teen reached a pivotal point in her research when she realized people in India are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than people stateside.

“I knew people who had grandparents or parents or aunts or uncles who had Alzheimer’s disease,” she says. “It was so prevalent here, but in India, I knew very few people who had it at all.”

Swathi theorized the cuisines of the countries could be making the difference; and sure enough, after two years of intense research, she found that turmeric and chili powder can slow the growth of the plaque that causes the disease.

Now out of 1,800 entrants, she’s a semi-finalist in a nationwide science talent search, which means her work could soon be reviewed by scientists with Nobel Prizes on their shelves.

That said, she does admit to feeling a little embarrassed to say Grey’s sparked her interest in neurology, but only a little. “Hey, it’s the truth!” she adds.