STONY BROOK, N.Y., August 29, 2012 — Dennis Choi, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President of the Simons Foundation, has been appointed Professor and Chair, Department of Neurology of the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, and Director of Stony Brook University’s Neurosciences Institute, effective October 1, 2012, announced Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, Senior Vice President, Health Sciences, and Dean, Stony Brook University School of Medicine. He succeeds Patricia K. Coyle, MD, Professor of Neurology, and Medical Director of the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Adult Care Center, who served as Acting Chair.
As Director of Stony Brook’s Neurosciences Institute, Dr. Choi will oversee a research and clinical entity dedicated to providing comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for the most complex neurological disorders. The Institute brings together the multidisciplinary expertise of neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, orthopedic surgeons and behavioral scientists to deliver the highest quality care through 11 Neurosciences Specialty Centers. Specialists at the Centers are also involved in collaborative University research and bench-to-bedside endeavors to advance diagnostic methods and treatments for adult and pediatric neurological disorders.
As Chair of the Department of Neurology, Dr. Choi will oversee a clinical, research, and education program that includes 19 full-time faculty with Divisions in Clinical Neurophysiology, Neuropsychology, Vascular Neurology, and Child Neurology, including special interest groups in epilepsy, developmental disabilities, autism, and pediatric AIDS. Faculty are integrally involved in nationally recognized programs in MS and neuromuscular diseases, particularly amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
“Dr. Choi’s selection marks the culmination of a nationwide search for a thought leader to serve as Director of our Neurosciences Institute and Chair of the Department of Neurology,” said Dr. Kaushansky. “His distinguished academic career, vision and executive skills to advance basic sciences and medicine at leading organizations like the Simons Foundation, insight as a groundbreaking researcher, and years of clinical experience as a top neurologist, make him the ideal fit for his role at Stony Brook. We expect Dr. Choi to greatly impact the clinical, educational, and research mission of Stony Brook Medicine.”
Since 2010, Dr. Choi has served as Executive Vice President of the Simons Foundation, a private foundation with the mission to advance the frontiers of research in the basic sciences and mathematics. The mission includes a focus on promoting the synergy between the physical sciences and the life sciences in the search for new treatments for autism.
A veteran in academic medicine renowned for his expertise in the science of neurological disorders, Dr. Choi is an accomplished neurologist who has had a broad career in research, academia and industry. He held the positions of Vice President for Academic Health Affairs, and Executive Director, Comprehensive Neurosciences Initiative, at Emory University just before joining the Simons Foundation. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and its Board on Health Sciences Policy, the Executive Committee of the Dana Alliance for Brain Research, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
He is the recipient of several awards recognizing his research on mechanisms of brain and spinal cord injury, including the Silvio O. Conte Decade of the Brain Award, the Wakeman Award for Neurosciences Research, the Christopher Reeve Research Medal and the Ho-Am Prize in Medical Science.
Dr. Choi’s investigational work began early in his career. His research as a graduate student led to the co-discovery of how benzodiazepine drugs work to enhance gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) actions. Later his laboratory studied pathological neuronal cell death, discovering a key role for N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activation and calcium overload in excitotoxicity, and for zinc in ischemic brain injury. More recently, Dr. Choi has worked to advance translational clinical research, including biomarker development for brain disorders. He holds seven patents for his highly innovative work.
As an educator, Dr. Choi has helped train more than 50 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, many of whom now hold prominent academic positions. He has also served on the editorial boards of more than 25 scientific journals and served as Founding Co-Editor of Neurobiology of Disease and Senior Editor of Brain Research.
Dr. Choi received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Harvard College. He received his medical degree from the combined Harvard University/Massachusetts Institute of Technology joint Health Sciences and Technology Program, as well as a PhD in Pharmacology from Harvard. He then performed an internship in Medicine and a residency in Neurology in the Harvard Longwood hospitals, followed by a fellowship in EEG and evoked potentials at Massachusetts General Hospital.
From 1989 to 1991, Dr. Choi was Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University. In 1991, he moved to St. Louis where he was appointed the Andrew B. and Gretchen P. Jones Professor, and Head of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, and Neurologist-in-Chief at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. At Washington University for 10 years, Dr. Choi also served as the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Nervous System Injury (now endowed as the Hope Center for Neurological Disorders), and the Director of the McDonnell Center for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology.
In 2001, Dr. Choi became Executive Vice-President for Neurosciences at Merck Research Labs. He returned to academia in 2006 as Professor of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics at Boston University. In 2007 he was appointed the Executive Director of the Comprehensive Neurosciences Initiative at Emory University. He served as Vice President for Academic Health Affairs at Emory from 2008 to 2010.
Dr. Choi is board-certified in Neurology and holds additional specialty certification from the American Board of Clinical Neurophysiology and the American Board of Electrodiagnostic Medicine.
About Stony Brook Medicine: Stony Brook Medicine integrates and elevates all of Stony Brook University’s health-related initiatives: education, research and patient care. It includes five Health Sciences schools — Dental Medicine, Health Technology and Management, Medicine, Nursing and Social Welfare — as well as Stony Brook University Hospital and 50 community-based healthcare settings throughout Suffolk County. To learn more, visit http://www.stonybrookmedicine.edu.