Research and Clinical Trials
Our Department ranked among the top ten departments of neurology in the United States and continues to expand on all fronts; treating patients with neurological disorders, performing research, training residents in neurology and teaching medical students. One of the key missions of the Department is to translate critical research advances discovered in our laboratories to benefit, treat, and possibly cure a wide array of neurologic diseases.
The department realized the following goals in the past 07/08 academic year:
- The Center provides the most advanced care available for multiple sclerosis. A number of clinical research objectives and trials have been commenced. We have identified and are in the process of recruiting a truly outstanding clinician/researcher to become director of the Unit. We believe that we have the opportunity to establish the preeminent clinical and scientific program for multiple sclerosis in New York.
- Dr. M. Flint Beal, in collaboration with Dr. Steven Goldman, the newly named Chairman of Neurology at the University of Rochester and a former member of our neurology department, obtained a planning grant for the New York State Stem Cell consortium. This planning grant is to establish a detailed program to advance stem cell therapy through both basic research and to establish the first clinical trials of neuronal stem cells for the treatment of Parkinson's Disease (PD).
- Dr. Claire Henchcliffe and Dr. Beal have continued the first clinical trial to attempt to slow the progression of PD with CoEnzyme Q10. This trial is now enrolling its first patients. If this trial proves successful, it will be the first neuroprotective treatment, which directly addresses the underlying disease process in PD. The study will enroll 600 patients at more than 50 sites over four years. The Department of Neurology at Weill Cornell is the central coordinating center and Dr. Beal is the Principal Investigator.
- We have completed planning of a new Sleep Center. We expect to commence construction of a state-of-the-art facility in the coming year. This will allow us to provide both diagnostic and state-of-the-art treatment for sleep disorders.
- Dr. Nikko Schiff has continued his landmark studies showing that deep brain stimulation in the thalamus, produces marked behavioral improvement in patients with severe traumatic brain injury. These studies are continuing and patients are being further studied at the Rockefeller University Clinical Research Center. Dr. Schiff was named to Time Magazine's list of 100 outstanding young Americans.
- Our studies to establish a blood test to diagnose PD have proven to be extremely successful. These studies are continuing, and we now have obtained data that we can distinguish idiopathic PD patients from those who have the most frequent genetic cause of the disorder.
- Dr. M. Elizabeth Ross has made exciting advances in understanding the genetic regulation of brain development. Her lab has mapped a new gene position on Chromosome 2 that is associated with microcephaly (small brain) with striking calcifications, suggesting an inherited form of neurovascular disease. They have also made an important discovery regarding how neuron precursors expand their numbers to construct cortical brain. This has potential application to strategies for stem cell therapy. Dr. Ross is spearheading efforts to create a new Division of Neurogenetics in the Department that will foster multidisciplinary research into genetic causes of neurological disorders, tying together neurologists, neuroscientists and other related disciplines within the Department with investigators throughout the University.
- Dr. Costantino Iadecola, head of the Division of Neurobiology, has been chosen to receive the prestigious 2009 Willis Lecture Award given by the Stroke Council of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association. This is awarded annually to a senior investigator for a career marked by sustained outstanding contributions to the field of stroke research. This award attests to the Department's leadership in cerebrovascular diseases and stroke. His lecture at the international Stroke Conference which is entitled "The Changing Landscape of Cerebral Ischemic Injury" will be given in February.
- We have recruited Dr. Axel Rosengart to direct the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit. Dr. Rosengart is a preeminent clinician and researcher in the field of critical care medicine. He is pioneering nanotechnology using magnetic nanoparticles for targeted drug delivery.
- Dr. Jonathan Victor who is the first recipient of the Fred Plum Professorship in Neurology, continues to lead pioneering studies in System Neuroscience and visual information processing by the brain.
- Dr. Norman Relkin who is the head of the Memory Disorders Center has obtained very promising results from his phase II study of the effects of immuno-globulin (IVIG) in Alzheimer's Disease. A phase III trial sponsored by the National Institute of Aging and a private pharmaceutical company will be started this year. Imaging of beta-amyloid using positron emission tomography confirmed a reduction in brain concentration of this peptide, which is linked to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's Disease.