Charles J. Duffy, MD, PhD, Named Director of the UH Brain Health & Memory Center

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Innovations in Neurology & Neurosurgery | Summer 2022

“The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia undermines an individual’s view of themselves and their expectations for the future,” says esteemed neurologist and neurocognitive researcher Charles J. Duffy, MD, PhD. “A comprehensive, holistic approach couples medicines and adaptive strategies with realistic expectations to promote a more successful adjustment to the changes of aging without triggering a loss of confidence that often accompanies cognitive decline.”

Charles Duffy, MD NeurologyCharles J. Duffy, MD, PhD

This spring, Dr. Duffy was named Director of the Brain Health & Memory Center within the University Hospitals Neurological Institute and Professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. “After a national search for a brain health specialist, we are thrilled that Dr. Duffy will lead us in a major expansion of our Alzheimer’s and dementia services,” says Cathy Sila, MD, FAAN, FAHA, Chair of the UH Department of Neurology.

Prior to joining University Hospitals, Dr. Duffy served at Penn State Hershey Medical Center from 2019 to 2021. He also had a distinguished 26-year tenure at the University of Rochester Medical Center, where he led numerous National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies of cerebral neocortex functioning and the neuronal mechanisms of information processing. He steps into a robust program built by Alan Lerner, MD, an internationally recognized researcher of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders and cofounder of the Cleveland Brain Health Initiative.

“Dr. Lerner’s excellence has led to the outstanding platform Dr. Duffy is inheriting,” says Nicholas C. Bambakidis, MD, Vice President and Director of the UH Neurological Institute and Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. “Dr. Duffy is a renowned expert on the care and management of patients with brain health and memory disorders. We are confident he will fulfill our institute’s priority of expanding treatment options and research opportunities for this growing population.”

Dr. Duffy is eagerly embracing his new role.

“One of the great attractions of this opportunity is working with the wonderful group assembled by Dr. Lerner, who has been so generous in my transition as director,” says Dr. Duffy. “It has been gratifying to find so many colleagues who are terrific sources of expertise. The people within the UH Brain Health & Memory Center know what they are doing and work hard to do it well.”

A continual process of discovery

According to the Alzheimer’s Association,1 an estimated 6.5 million adults ages 65 and older are living with some form of dementia, a number that is expected to grow to 12.7 million by 2050, creating increased urgency around prevention and treatment. Still, there is reason for hope.

“We are moving into a new phase in our understanding of molecular-, cellular- and systems-level neurological disorders and how we can mitigate their impact,” says Dr. Duffy. “With the tremendous researchers here at University Hospitals, I see the potential to make lasting contributions to the field of brain health.”

Here are two topics that have his attention.

  • Drug therapy. With novel medications under investigation, Dr. Duffy notes that researchers are identifying ways to improve their effectiveness and gain greater understanding of the efficacy of drug combinations. “The diversity of modern medicine makes it possible to individualize medicinal regimens and slow disease progression,” he says.
  • Prevention. An increased focus on healthy aging is prompting researchers to identify lifestyle adaptations that help people maintain function and independence well past age 65. “This is what I usually characterize as ‘walk, talk, read, rest and diet,’” says Dr. Duffy. “That is a simplification of the advantages of remaining physically, socially and mentally active. Part of our mission is to find compassionate ways to engage patients in activities that promote wellness and happiness.”

For more information, contact Dr. Duffy at Charles.Duffy@UHhospitals.org or 216-464-6449.

1 https://www.alz.org/media/Documents/alzheimers-facts-and-figures.pdf

Contributing Experts:
Charles J. Duffy, MD, PhD
Director, Brain Health & Memory Center 
University Hospitals Neurological Institute

Nicholas C. Bambakidis, MD
Chair, Department of of Neurological Surgery
Vice President and Director
University Hospitals Neurological Institute
Harvey Huntington Brown, Jr. Chair in Neurosurgery
University Hospitals
Professor of Neurological Surgery
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine


Cathy Sila, MD, FAAN, FAHA
Chair, Department of Neurology 
University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
Professor and Gilbert W Humphrey Endowed Chair in Neurology
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

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