Neurology is facing difficult challenges — a rapidly aging population, the uncertainties of healthcare reform and dramatic cuts to research funding. At the same time, Dr. Merit Cudkowicz believes that the next 10 years will bring unprecedented strides in understanding and treating neurological disorders that affect millions. With Mass General’s outstanding researchers, physicians and educators, Dr. Cudkowicz is confident the department will lead the way.
Investing in people and partnerships is the root of Dr. Cudkowicz’s vision. Her goal is to accelerate the process of translating laboratory discoveries into practical treatments. Collaboration — across disciplines and across fields — is central.
For example, she cites the work of Mass General’s Leigh R. Hochberg, MD, PhD, who worked with a team of neurologists, engineers, computer scientists and other specialists to develop a device called BrainGate. Using a baby aspirin-sized chip implanted in the brain, individuals paralyzed by a stroke or ALS can regain independence by controlling a computer and other external devices with their thoughts.
“We must think big,” Dr. Cudkowicz says. “There are all kinds of changes we can and should make that will lead to incremental improvements in care and treatment for neurological disease. We have the talent and ability to innovate in ways that can redefine our field. So let’s aim for the stars.”