Colum Amory, MD, MPH
The father of Neurology in Albany was Dr. Thomas Hun. He was born in the early 19th century and graduated Union University in 1826. After medical training at the University of Pennsylvania and postgraduate training in Europe, he returned to Albany in 1839. Dr. Hun was one of the founders of Albany Medical College , where he was appointed Professor of the Institutes of Medicine. One of his interests was the nervous system and he held weekly neurological clinics and presented cases of patients suffering from neurological disease. Dr. Robert W. Graves was appointed the first head of an independent Department of Neurology in 1949. As Professor and Chairman, he instituted the first neurology residency training program in Albany, assisted by Dr. Frederick H. Hesser, who he had brought with him from the University of Iowa. Our current training program has its roots from the efforts of these two physicians, who developed the residency program with an emphasis on clinical neurology. Dr. Hesser was succeeded by Dr. David Green, Associate Professor and Acting Chair, in the late 1960's. You could say the modern era at Albany Medical College began in 1969 and was ushered in by Dr. Kevin Barron, Professor and Chairman, a post he held until 1993, one of the longest tenured neurology chairs in the United States. Several of our faculty, both at Albany Medical College and in private practice in and around the Capital region, trained under Dr. Barron, who was named Professor Emeritus in Neurology.
Under the guidance of Michael Gruenthal, MD, PhD, Bender Endowed Chair of Neurology at the Albany Medical College, the department is enjoying a renaissance with expansion of the faculty and staff and enrichment of clinical and educational programs.
The kindness of generous benefactors has permitted the establishment of:
The Lally Neurological Observation/Stroke Unit, a neurological intensive care facility featuring eight beds with sophisticated instrumentation to monitor hemodynamic and cerebrovascular function. The Albany Medical Center Hospital was one of three hospitals in New York State with training programs in Neurology to receive a Top 100 Stroke Hospital Award.
The J. Spencer Standish Endowed Chair in Neurosciences was created with a gift of $1 million to support excellence in epilepsy. Anthony L. Ritaccio, MD, Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery, has held this position since inception.
An active pediatric neurology service provides care to more than 3 million people in the 25 counties of eastern New York and western New England. The Division of Child Neurology includes Drs. Charles Nichter, Karen Powers, John Pugh, Sohail Malek and Vijay Vishwanath.
The Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center provides access to advanced diagnosis/treatment, including innovative surgical procedures,and the opportunity to participate in “cutting-edge” clinical research. Under the direction of Eric S. Molho, MD, Riley Family Chair in Parkinson’s Disease, faculty in the Center sustain an active fellowship program in movement disorders. Albany Medical Center’s Huntington’s Disease Clinic has been named a Level 2 Center of Excellence by the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by Huntington’s disease. Albany Med’s program is one of only three such centers in the state and 39 in the country. As a Center of Excellence, the clinic provides a multidisciplinary approach to the care and support of patients with Huntington’s disease and support of patients and their families.
The Alzheimer’s Center of Albany Medical Center, under the direction of Earl Zimmerman, MD, was named one of only six Centers of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease in New York State by the New York State Department of Health. The only Center of Excellence in the region, Albany Med will receive $2.4 million in state funding over a five- year period to support its work as a comprehensive resource to the health care community—one that provides diagnostic and consultative services to primary care providers in making initial assessments of patients, develops comprehensive care plans, assists with the management of complex patient situations and refers patients to adjunct situations and specialty care.
The Department of Neurology at the Albany Medical College has a strong and vital residency that has been fortunate to recruit “top-notch” house officers. Integration of new faculty has resulted in the ACGME accreditation of fellowships in Clinical Neurophysiology, Epilepsy, Pain Medicine and Vascular Neurology. In addition, we have fellowships in movement disorders and behavioral neurology.
I commend the faculty, residents and staff for their dedication to the Department of Neurology and the effort devoted to maintaining a focus on clinical excellence, education and research.