ne of my favorite quotes is from Thomas A. Edison: the chief function of the body is to carry the brain around. In that spirit, this issue of UMDNJ Magazine delves into the complex organ that makes us human, that makes us individuals and shapes our world view. We take a look at some of the consequences of brain malfunction and efforts at prevention on one hand, and treatment on the other.
In line with the timeliness of this topic, a few months back the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Domestic Policy convened a packed hearing to assess the current state of neuroscience research. During testimony, the panel of expert witnesses agreed that the promise for a scientific approach to preventing, treating and curing brain disease has never been greater.
At UMDNJ, preventing, treating and curing brain disease is a major initiative, and we are encouraged by the results. University Behavioral HealthCare has recently developed and opened the Facilitating Individualized Recovery through Supportive Treatment (FIRST) program, a specialized six-bed inpatient unit dedicated to the treatment of a first episode of schizophrenia or related form of psychosis. The Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Sciences at the School of Health Related Professions is using robots interfaced with virtual reality simulations to help rehabilitate stroke victims. Alzheimer’s research at the School of Osteopathic Medicine has recently taken a giant leap forward. Our researchers and clinicians are making huge strides in these and many other brain-related specialties.
In some areas, we are joining forces with other institutions. At the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, one of U.S. News and World Report’s Top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation, and part of the New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency program, a concussion clinic will be headed up by two members of the NJMS faculty, Dr. Neil Jasey, the clinical chief of Traumatic Brain Injury at Kessler, and Dr. Peter Yonclas, director of trauma rehabilitation at UMDNJ-University Hospital. I am proud to say both are UMDNJ graduates and completed residencies in the NJMS Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
If we need further evidence that the promise of the future in the approach to brain disease — and other healthcare challenges as well — has never been greater, meet some of UMDNJ’s stellar students whom we’ve called our “brainiacs,” engineers of tomorrow’s breakthroughs. They will follow in the footsteps of UMDNJ pioneers like Dr. Peter Carmel and Dr. Robert Johnson.
I am very proud to report that Peter Carmel, at present professor and chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery at NJMS, is the first neurosurgeon to be named president of the American Medical Association. He will take office in June with all the best wishes of his faculty colleagues. And Bob Johnson has been named the eighth dean of NJMS and the first alumnus, class of 1972, to hold that post. He has been a member of the UMDNJ faculty since 1976. Congratulations to all.
William F. Owen, Jr., MD
President of UMDNJ