Teresa Gomez-Isla, MD, PhD, was named the inaugural incumbent of the Anne B. Young, MD, PhD, Endowed Chair in Neurodegenerative Disease.

Teresa Gomez-Isla, MD, PhD, was honored as the inaugural incumbent of the Anne B. Young, MD, PhD, Endowed Chair in Neurodegenerative Disease during a celebration on July 18, 2016, at the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation. Dr. Gomez-Isla is an associate professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and director of the Memory Division at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Young is a role model to women in academic medicine and a trailblazer in the field.

The chair, which was made possible in part through leadership gifts from the Biogen Foundation and the Cleary Family Foundation, will advance research to cure neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s. It is named for Dr. Young, who served as chief of Neurology at Mass General for nearly two decades.

Dr. Young is a role model to women in academic medicine and a trailblazer in the field. The evening highlighted her many accomplishments, including being named the first female chief of a department at Mass General in 1991. Dr. Young also founded the Mass General Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease (MIND) with the vision that scientists could find cures faster if they worked together and shared ideas.

Saluting Endowed Chair Namesake

Peter L. Slavin, MD, president of Mass General, recalled hearing about Dr. Young while giving a talk at another medical center. “I met a young female faculty member who made a point of letting me know that Anne was an inspiration, even though she had not worked with her,” he said. “Anne’s impact is clearly felt far beyond Mass General.”

“Philanthropy is terrific and enables scientists to do work that’s out of the box,” Dr. Young said.

Merit Cudkowicz, MD, MSc, chief of Neurology, also praised her predecessor in that post. “Anne was a role model not just to the women, but to all those in the department,” Dr. Cudkowicz said. “She inspired others with how she approached science and how she approached people.”

Topping off her investigative and clinical contributions, Dr. Young is also an accomplished fundraiser. Since stepping down as chief in 2012, Dr. Young has dedicated her efforts to fundraising for neuroscience and mentoring the next generation of leaders. She has raised nearly $100 million to propel groundbreaking research across the hospital.

Emphasis on Collaboration

“Philanthropy is terrific and enables scientists to do work that’s out of the box,” Dr. Young said. “I remember what it was like to start out and how important it was to have some sort of philanthropic support.”

Like Dr. Young, Dr. Gomez-Isla is a pioneer in neurology. Dr. Slavin described her as “a brilliant physician, scientist, mentor and visionary leader.”

Like Dr. Young, Dr. Gomez-Isla is a pioneer in neurology. Dr. Slavin described her as “a brilliant physician, scientist, mentor and visionary leader.”

Dr. Gomez-Isla praised Dr. Young’s emphasis on collaboration: “Anne built the department through the unique vision of bringing people together” and noted how she plans to perpetuate Dr. Young’s legacy of excellence: “I want to empower young girls and boys through the institute that Anne founded.”

Leadership on Alzheimer’s Research

In addition to serving as the director of Mass General’s Memory Division, Dr. Gomez-Isla is the leader of the Clinical Core of the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. She developed a clinic at Mass General for patients with brain disease whose primary language is Spanish. In addition, she has been featured in an award-winning Spanish documentary about Alzheimer’s disease, “Bicycle, Spoon, Apple.” Dedicated to mentorship, she initiated a fellowship program at the Memory Unit, which is now in its third year.

Dr. Gomez-Isla is also a renowned speaker who has presented internationally on Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. She has authored and co-authored more than 100 articles and chapters.

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