“This is an exciting time for the Department of Neurology and the patients we care for,” says Merit Cudkowicz, MD, MSc. Dr. Cudkowicz, who recently celebrated her 10th anniversary as chair of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital, also serves as the director of the Sean M. Healey & AMG Center for ALS at Mass General. Under Dr. Cudkowicz’s leadership, the department has become a powerhouse in both research funding and philanthropic support, and she has been named a co-chair of Philanthropy for The Campaign for Mass General.
“Our success is the result of what I believe is the hallmark of our department — collaboration,” says Dr. Cudkowicz. “We ignore silos and boundaries to embrace great ideas and the people behind them. We integrate research into care, bringing our scientists closer to the people their research helps and bringing our clinicians closer to the science that drives disease. We do this across neurology, and, with our Mass General Neuroscience initiative, we are collaborating with our colleagues in psychiatry, neurosurgery and radiology.”
During her tenure, advances in genetics and genomics, clinical trial design and artificial intelligence (AI) have made therapies available in diseases and disorders once thought incurable. “In pediatric neurology, we have seen treatments come to FDA approval that are astounding in impact,” she says. “New therapies allow children with spinal muscular atrophy to develop muscle function and enjoy a high quality of life. We are making great strides helping stroke victims during both acute and rehab phases. And we are harnessing AI and machine learning to understand and treat neurological disorders effectively.”
Five donor-funded multidisciplinary research and care centers opened within the department, providing a range of services and research studies for brain health, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), dystonia/parkinsonism and tuberous sclerosis. Philanthropy also supports the Transformative Scholars program, offering two years of support for early-career clinician-scientists. The program has already paved the way for several recipients to make the leap to independent research, leveraging the mentoring and research time to acquire major government and foundation grants.
“Those visionary gifts make such a difference, seeding the best ideas, encouraging early-career clinicians and ensuring everyone, everywhere has access to the highest-quality, patient-centered care,” she says.
In ALS, where Dr. Cudkowicz is recognized as a global leader in research and care, the launch of the Healey & AMG Center four years ago has already led to one new FDA-approved drug and another under FDA review. “What is particularly significant is that the discoveries we are making in ALS biology are providing insights into a range of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and stroke,” she says.
“The Campaign for Mass General will help us connect and collaborate more effectively with our colleagues, patients and community,” Dr. Cudkowicz says. “Together, we will change the way we think about neurological diseases and make a difference for patients everywhere.”
To make a gift to support Dr. Merit Cudkowicz and the department of neurology, please visit https://giving.massgeneral.org/donate/neurology-chief-catalyst-fund or contact Bridget Flynn at email@example.com for more information.