January 27, 2011

New institute brings clinical neurosciences specialties together

New institute brings clinical neurosciences specialties together

The Departments of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry have established a collaboration among their specialties and formed the Vanderbilt Clinical Neurosciences Institute to provide integrated and comprehensive care to patients.

David Charles, M.D.

David Charles, M.D.

David Charles, M.D., associate professor and vice-chair of Neurology, has been named the institute's chief medical officer, and Candace Tillquist, M.A., is administrative director.

“The goal is to deliver the best clinical services in the most efficient way,” Charles said. “What's novel and innovative is that the institute, from a care standpoint, is crossing our traditional departmental boundaries. The best care for our patients turns out to be collaboration across these lines to deliver care as one service.”

Candace Tillquist, M.A.

Candace Tillquist, M.A.

Charles said that as medical treatments have advanced, it has become increasingly obvious that patients need services provided by all three areas.

“Now we're realizing that some of the most exciting new developments are interdisciplinary,” he said.

The Clinical Neurosciences Institute will have five areas of focus:

• Movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, dystonia and essential tremor;
• Stroke and cerebrovascular care;
• Epilepsy;
• Neuro-oncology; and
• Cognitive disorders, such as dementia and depression.

“Vanderbilt has all the elements to be successful in these areas. It is our challenge to grow those faculty and support structures to make sure our patients have access to this care most efficiently,” Charles said.

“It really all comes back to the mission — improving the quality of life for our patients with a fully integrated, multidisciplinary approach to care.”

Charles has had a range of recent experiences that put him in a strong position to lead the Clinical Neurosciences Institute.

He has served as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in France with the multidisciplinary team that pioneered deep brain stimulation; worked as a health policy fellow in the U.S. Senate, which he said gave him a new perspective on ways to deliver efficient health services; and is currently leading a 10-plus-year effort to study deep brain stimulation in early Parkinson's disease, which has required extensive collaboration with Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

Tillquist has more than 20 years of experience leading Clinical Neuroscience Institute efforts around the country, including establishing two such centers in Minneapolis and Clearwater, Fla.

In Florida, she was instrumental in leading efforts for Morton Plant Mease Health Care to become one of the first Joint Commission-certified Primary Stroke Centers in the country.

She also worked with state legislators, hospital administrators and the EMS system to establish the Florida Stroke Act to assure that all stroke patients be delivered to institutions with the capabilities to provide appropriate care for them. Tillquist has presented at several national conferences and served as a consultant with institutions wishing to establish neuroscience institutes.

She is excited about the opportunities that exist at VUMC.

“We have all the pieces of the puzzle — passionate faculty and nursing staff along with state-of-the-art technology — here at VUMC to establish a strong Clinical Neurosciences Institute with a solid foundation in research efforts,” she said. “We really can positively impact the lives of patients with brain disorders.”