New Executive Director of the McKnight Brain Institute
David S. Guzick, MD, PhD, Senior Vice President, Health Affairs
President, UF&Shands Health System
I am writing to let you know that after six years at the helm of the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute, Dennis Steindler, Ph.D., has announced he is stepping down from his administrative post, and we have selected a new executive director to lead the MBI’s efforts to end neural disease and age-related memory loss.
An authority in regenerative medicine, Dr. Steindler has decided to devote more time as a scientist in the front lines of the effort to diagnose and treat brain diseases. We are grateful for his work to recruit outstanding faculty, build support and funding for the MBI, and synergize the vast, diverse brain research effort at the University of Florida.
With the endorsement of UF President Bernie Machen and Vice President for Research Win Phillips, I have selected Tetsuo Ashizawa, M.D., chairman of the department of neurology in the College of Medicine, to continue this effort. I am pleased to report Dr. Ashizawa has accepted this critical role and will become executive director of the McKnight Brain Institute on Sept. 1.
Dr. Ashizawa is charged with strengthening productive interactions within the neuromedicine departments and brain research community at UF, enriching collaborations that span the Health Science Center colleges, the Institute on Aging, the UF Shands Cancer Center, the McKnight Brain Research Foundation, the Malcom A. Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the College of Engineering — wherever appropriate research is being conducted within the Brain Institute’s reach.
This is a vibrant time for neuromedicine at the Health Science Center and Shands at UF. Many of our innovations are coming online to make tangible differences in patients’ lives. We have invested in the best people and infrastructure to translate laboratory findings into clinical treatments, and Dr. Ashizawa is well-qualified to forward these efforts.
A distinguished clinician, administrator and researcher, Dr. Ashizawa joined UF in April 2009 as chairman of the department of neurology. He quickly advanced initiatives for world-class research, excellent patient care and the education of students and residents. He received a $1 million Challenge grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to lead a nationwide network of physician-scientists called the Clinical Research Consortium for Spinocerebellar Ataxias, which includes nine other institutions, among them Emory University, the Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University.
The Melvin Greer professor of neurology, Dr. Ashizawa’s interests include basic, translational and clinical studies of disorders such as spinocerebellar ataxia type 10, myotonic dystrophy type 1, Huntington’s disease, Friedreich’s ataxia, Parkinson’s disease and myasthenia gravis. His research has been supported by grants from the NIH, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the FDA, and other sources.
He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and more than 100 abstracts. Among his many honors, he has received “The Team Hope Award” for medical leadership from the Huntington’s Disease Society of America and the Research Excellence award from the National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery of Mexico.
He attended medical school at Keio University Medical School in Tokyo, obtained residency training in medicine at Kitasato University Hospital in Kanagawa, Japan, served a medical internship for internal medicine at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, and obtained residency training in neurology at the Baylor College of Medicine.
He became a professor of neurology at Baylor in 1997 before becoming the John Sealy Chair in neurology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in 2002. He has also served as the assistant chief of neurology service and the deputy executive of neurology care at the Veterans Affairs medical center in Houston.
Please join me in congratulating and supporting Dr. Ashizawa in his new position as executive director of the McKnight Brain Institute.