UM Neurology Physician-Scientists Have Large Presence at AAN Annual Meeting

The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Meeting is the world’s largest gathering of neurologists, attracting nearly 15,000 neurology professionals across the globe to network, discuss cutting-edge research, and take part in top-rated educational programing.

Once again, the Department of Neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine had a significant presence at this year’s meeting, held from May 4 to 10 in Philadelphia. Faculty and students presented data from more than 35 abstracts and led and participated in a variety of platform presentations and educational programs across diverse topics, many focused on recent advances in neurological disorders.

Here is a recap of some of the department’s highlights and contributions:

Activity began early in March with the AAN’s release of results from a UM-led study linking depression and strokes. The study, which showed that people who reported more symptoms of depression may be more likely to have a stroke years later than people with low or no depression symptoms, was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke as part of the Northern Manhattan Study, an ongoing collaborative research project between the University of Miami and Columbia University in New York. Marialaura Simonetto, M.D., M.S., is the study author; read more about it here.

On May 5, Ralph L. Sacco, M.D., M.S., FAHA, FAAN, professor and Olemberg Chair of Neurology, who just completed his two-year term as president of the American Academy of Neurology, presented the “Presidential Lecture, Neurology: Challenges, Opportunities and the Way Forward.” Dr. Sacco urged professionals to continue to provide hope for the growing number of patients with neurological diseases, which he said is both a challenge and an opportunity in the 21st Century.

“Neurologic disorders are the leading cause of disability-adjusted life years and second leading cause of death globally,” Dr. Sacco said. “To meet the growing demand, there needs to be an expansion of the neurological workforce.

“We need to accelerate research to improve the way patients are treated and make a difference in patient well-being. As neurologists, we need to advocate for faster and better cures.”

Dr. Sacco’s entire presidential address can be watched here.

There was diverse representation from UM’s faculty. Several women from the department led posters and/or sessions, including Neeta Garg, M.D., on quality management and improvement, Maria Raquel Lopez, M.D., on women with epilepsy, Teshamae Monteith, M.D., on migraine, Kristine O’Phelan, M.D., on traumatic brain injury, Danielle Spengler Shpiner, M.D., on movement disorders, and Nicole Sur, M.D., on stroke due to atrial fibrillation. Their involvement and leadership have special significance given that the field has noted the underrepresentation of women neurologists.

In addition, several other long-term faculty members and internationally renowned neurologists from the department presented their research. Interventional stroke neurologist and researcher Dileep Yavagal, M.D., spoke about advances in stroke prevention and treatment. Epilepsy expert Andres Kanner, M.D., discussed what neurologists need to know in the management of epilepsy today. Mario Saporta, M.D., spoke about therapeutics in neuromuscular disorders. Alberto Rafael Ramos, M.D., participated in the Neurology Year in Review Plenary and reviewed his latest sleep research. Barry Baumel, M.D., discussed his pioneering research in Alzheimer’s disease, while Corneliu Luca, M.D., Ph.D., reported on deep brain stimulation.

Two faculty members received prestigious awards during the meeting. Ram Ayyar, M.D., professor of neurology, director of the electromyography laboratory, and director of the neuromuscular medicine fellowship program, was honored with the 2019 Association of Indian Neurologists in America Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Ayyar is internationally recognized as a clinician, teacher, researcher, and a leader in the field of neuromuscular medicine and electrophysiology. He has more than 100 peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Ayyar joined the faculty at the University of Miami in 1976.

In addition, Christian Camargo, M.D., a clinician and instructor with the Department of Neurology, received the McKnight Clinical Translational Research Scholarship in Cognitive Aging and Age-Related Memory Loss. The award is a significant honor for a young investigator conducting clinical research and starting out his career.

The department is looking forward to providing additional research updates and perspective at the 2020 AAN Annual Meeting in Toronto.

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