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Chetkovich named chair of Department of Neurology

May. 26, 2017, 1:33 PM

Dane Chetkovich, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Neurology and Physiology and director of the Medical Scientist Training Program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, has been named chair of Vanderbilt’s Department of Neurology. He will join the faculty on Sept. 1.

Dane Chetkovich, M.D., Ph.D.

Chetkovich succeeds Robert Macdonald, M.D., Ph.D., Margaret and John Warner Professor of Neurological Education, who is stepping down after serving as the department’s chair for 16 years. Macdonald will remain on the faculty and is actively engaged in performing research on genetic epilepsies.

As chair, Chetkovich will lead a nationally ranked department housing 16 adult and pediatric clinical divisions, more than 80 faculty, a robust training program with more than 40 residents and fellows, notable programs in sleep disorders, movement disorders, cognitive and behavioral disorders (including memory and Alzheimer’s), epilepsy, neuromuscular disorders, neuro-oncology and a Comprehensive Stroke Center. The department is also a regional leader in teleneurology services for diseases such as stroke.

The Department of Neurology’s services manage more than 3,000 inpatient admissions, and more than 5,000 consultations each year.

“We were attracted to Dr. Chetkovich because he is an outstanding physician scientist who is also passionate about further developing our clinical services across the neurosciences. At the same time, his experience and commitment to mentoring trainees, as the leader of one of the nation’s notable medical scientist training programs, is exceptional,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., President and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “He is a great fit for our collaborative culture and we are delighted he is joining our leadership team. On behalf of the Medical Center I want to welcome Dane and his family to Vanderbilt.”

“I want to again express my sincere appreciation to Dr. Macdonald for building and guiding the Department of Neurology in countless ways to become one of the nation’s best; and to Dr. Stephan Heckers and other members of the search committee for identifying and helping us recruit Dr. Chetkovich.”

Chetkovich practices general neurology and his research focuses on molecular mechanisms that underlie how abnormalities of ion channels in the brain lead to neuropsychiatric disease. In particular, he is interested in developing novel approaches to influence the subcellular targeting of ligand and voltage-gated ion channels, molecules responsible for controlling communication between neurons in the brain.

His current research portfolio includes National Institutes of Health-funded studies of hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channel trafficking in epilepsy; gene therapy for treating depression; the use of high throughput screening to determine chemical probes for treating depression; and developing a novel peptide therapeutic for treating depression.

“Our Department of Neurology is a nationally recognized referral center for adults and children who rely on the clinical expertise and unique services that in many cases are only available here,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., Deputy CEO and Chief Health System Officer, VUMC. “As a physician leader, Dr. Chetkovich has spent his career in academic health care. He understands the needs of the patients we serve and the environment necessary for our faculty to continue to flourish. We look forward to his contributions.”

Chetkovich is a frequently invited presenter and the author of numerous peer-reviewed publications.

At Northwestern he has received several teaching awards including the John A. Kessler Teaching Award in 2016 and Neurology Resident Teaching Award in 2015. He is on the editorial board for Epilepsy Currents and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology committee responsible for writing the certification exam that is required for neurologists to become board-certified in the United States.

In addition to Heckers, other members of the search committee included Nancy Brown, M.D., André Churchwell, M.D., P. Jeffrey Conn, Ph.D., Robert Dittus, M. D., Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., Mitch Edgeworth, MBA, Kevin Ess, Ph.D., Tina Hartert, M.D., MPH, Ian Macara, Ph.D., Anita Mahadevan-Jansen, Ph.D., Reed Omary, M.D., Samuel Santoro, M.D., Ph.D., Robin Steaban, MSN, R.N., Paul Sternberg Jr., M.D., Reid Thompson, M.D., and Mark Wallace, Ph.D.

“The search committee did a great job in reviewing a group of outstanding candidates. We are all thrilled that Dr. Chetkovich, who emerged from this group as the top candidate, has accepted the offer to become the next Chair of Neurology. He will bring experience, vision and great enthusiasm for clinical neuroscience to Vanderbilt,” Heckers said.

Chetkovich is a 1988 graduate of University of Texas, Austin where he earned degrees in zoology and biochemistry, followed by a Ph.D. in 1992 and an M.D. in 1994 from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He completed an internship at Baylor followed by residency at University of California, San Francisco where he served as chief resident in neurology and completed a postdoctoral fellowship.

“Vanderbilt University Medical Center is one of the premier medical centers in the country, and the Department of Neurology is truly outstanding,” said Chetkovich. “To be able to join the VUMC family and lead efforts to advance clinical, scientific and educational innovation in such a fantastic department is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I cannot wait to get started.”

Chetkovich and his wife, Kristina, will be joined in Nashville by their children, Nia and Kolter.

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