Welcome from the Chair
Welcome to the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Department of Neurology. As a Department, our vision is to provide the best patient centered neurological care while fostering the career development, education and training of our team members and colleagues. We endeavor to realize our vision by fulfilling the following three missions:
- Improve the lives of children and adults with neurological disorders through compassionate, high-quality medical care and patient education.
- Provide exceptional education to our students, residents, fellows, and the wider community of medical professionals.
- Advance the knowledge of neurological disease by actively developing innovative treatments through basic, translational, and clinical research.
Our 50+ faculty members cover every neurology subspeciality in adult and child neurology and include award winning educators, clinical and translational neuroscientists, and master clinicians. We provide patient care across the Richmond area, including the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veteran’s Administration Medical Center. A defining attribute of our Department is boundless curiosity – something that is evident in our focus on education and research. Our training programs are a centerpiece of departmental life. We offer 8 adult neurology residency and 1 child neurology fellowship positions each year in addition to fellowship programs in epilepsy, clinical neurophysiology, neuromuscular medicine, movement disorders, neuro-oncology, and vascular neurology. VCU Neurology has a rich history of neuroscience discovery. VCU (then the Medical College of Virginia - MCV) was founded in 1838. The first neurologist at VCU was Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard, who came to MCV for his first faculty posting after completing medical training in Paris. His laboratory was in the basement of the Egyptian Building (the current home of our colleagues in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation). Our “modern” history began in 1912 when Dr. Beverly Randolph Tucker became the first Chief of Neurology and Psychiatry. Dr. Tucker completed training under Dr. S. Weir Mitchell at the University of Pennsylvania. Neurology was in his genes; Dr. Tucker’s son, named Weir Mitchell Tucker in honor of his father’s friend and mentor, also became a neurologist and leader at MCV.
Discovery has been a central mission of the Department ever since then. VCU is a national leader, ranking 28th in the United States in NIH funding for neuroscience. Our current team of investigators has made fundamental discoveries in many areas of neurology, with ongoing research projects including basic and translational work in epilepsy, neuro-oncology, neurodegeneration, movement disorders, pain and addiction, and inherited myopathies with a broad array of NIH, foundation and industry supported clinical trials. We are part of a strong collaborative clinical, translational and basic neuroscience community, which includes the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research, https://cctr.vcu.edu/index.html funded by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).
The foundation of any successful academic medical center is its clinical program and the patients and communities it serves. The Department is nationally recognized for excellence across multiple subspecialty areas. For example, our EEG laboratory and Epilepsy Monitoring Unit is the largest and most advanced in the region, having Level 4 accreditation by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers. Our EMG laboratory is accredited by the AANEM. The VCU Stroke Center has garnered national recognition and multiple awards for providing excellent clinical care and was the first Joint Commission accredited Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center in Virginia. VCU is the premier public urban research university in Virginia. VCU Health is the home of the only Level 1 trauma center in the region, the Massy Cancer Center (1 of only 2 NCI designated cancer centers in Virginia), and the Children’s Hospital of Richmond (CHoR), the region’s only full-service pediatric hospital. Cumulatively, VCU Health has 1,125 beds. The Department benefits from close collaboration with the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center, which is one of only several VA centers in the nation with both a Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education and Clinical Center (PADRECC) and a VA Epilepsy Center of Excellence. The VA and Department of PM&R also lead the national Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium (CENC https://cenc.rti.org/ ), with Dr. David Cifu, Chair of PM&R as PI.
And we are growing. Among our new facilities are the Children’s Pavilion http://chortour.org/#/ , the innovative Neurology Orthopedic and Wellness Center https://www.vcuhealthnowcenter.org/ and the Virginia Treatment Center, an inpatient psychiatric facility providing patient centered care to families and children https://www.chrichmond.org/Services/Virginia-Treatment-Center-for-Children.htm . A 154,000 sq. ft. School of Allied Health Professions building is under construction, which will include laboratories for human simulation and rehabilitation. In partnership with Sheltering Arms, we are building a 114-bed rehabilitation hospital that will open in 2020. Planning is also well underway for a $350 million new Adult Outpatient Facility which will be located at our downtown campus. And, there is more to come.
The future of neurology is bright, with every day bringing a new fundamental discovery, or innovative treatment for neurological disease. But we face daunting challenges in providing affordable access to care for our large and diverse population, renewing our focus on preventative care, and finding treatments for some of the most feared medical disorders. As we work to face these challenges with optimistic vigor, our focus remains on the patients and communities we serve, and our students and trainees, who are our future.
A. Gordon Smith, M.D. FAAN
Professor and Chair
VCU Department of Neurology