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09 July 2007
Neuroscientist Dennis Choi Named Executive Director of Emory Neuroscience Initiatives
Dennis W. Choi, MD, PhD, a neuroscientist renowned for his groundbreaking research on brain and spinal cord injury, has been recruited to lead two major neuroscience programs at Emory University. Dr. Choi will direct the Neuroscience, Human Nature and Society Initiative within Emory's University-wide strategic plan as well as a new Comprehensive Neuroscience Center in Emory University's Woodruff Health Sciences Center.

"Dennis Choi is a superb addition to Emory's faculty and our neurosciences programs throughout the University," says President James W. Wagner. "Neuroscience has long been a strength of Emory, and has now been identified as a key initiative advancing Emory's strategic plan. As an esteemed scientist, Dr. Choi will help Emory continue to develop its national leadership in the neurosciences."

A former president of the Society for Neuroscience, Dr. Choi served as head of the Neurology Department at Washington University Medical School from 1991 until 2001 and as neurologist-in-chief at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He established and directed the Center for the Study of Nervous System Injury (now the Hope Center for Neurological Disorders) and directed the McDonnell Center for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology.

From 2001 until 2006 Dr. Choi was executive vice president for neuroscience at Merck Research Labs, leaving to join Boston University, where he has been a professor of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics. He joins the Emory Emory University School of Medicine as a professor in the Department of Neurology on August 1.

As Executive Director of Emory University's strategic neurosciences initiative, Dr. Choi will oversee the development of four key areas: neuroscience education, behavioral neuroscience and cognition, brain therapeutics, and molecular and translational imaging research. Each program builds on strengths across multiple units of the University and existing neuroscience programs, including Emory's Center for Neurodegenerative Disease, an NIH-funded Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, a neuroimaging research center, neurosciences programs at Emory's Yerkes National Primate Research Center, the Fuqua Center for Late-life Depression, NIH-funded research programs in psychiatry and behavioral sciences and psychology, and research programs funded through the collaborative Center for Behavioral Neurosciences.

As director of the new Comprehensive Neuroscience Center in Emory's Woodruff Health Sciences Center, Dr. Choi will lead a clinical and translational center that integrates research, clinical care and education. One of five new multidisciplinary clinical centers of excellence, the neuroscience center is part of the Health Sciences Center's Vision 2012 strategic plan focused on promoting patient-centered care, distinctive health services based on discovery and innovation, and a measurable impact on the health of patients.

"We welcome Dr. Choi as the leader of our new Comprehensive Neuroscience Center," says Wright Caughman, MD, vice president for clinical and academic integration in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center. "His outstanding research experience and his national leadership in the neurosciences, coupled with Emory's world-class neuroscience faculty, will inspire new energy and create enhanced opportunities for translational research and advances in patient care."

"Dr. Choi's recruitment will be of tremendous benefit to the entire university and to Emory College as we continue to enhance our programs in the sciences and seek linkages between those departments and the humanities," said Robert Paul, PhD, dean of Emory College. "We look forward to incorporating his vision for the role of n eurosciences as a university-wide discipline that includes undergraduate, graduate and professional students and faculty and that links the health sciences with the Liberal Arts in innovative ways."

Dr. Choi is a member of the Institute of Medicine and its Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a member of the executive committee of the Dana Alliance for Brain Research. He is a former vice president of the American Neurological Association.

He received MD and PhD degrees in 1978 from Harvard University and the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology. After completing residency and fellowship training in neurology at Harvard, he joined the faculty at Stanford University, where he began his ongoing research into the mechanisms of neuronal cell death and the underlying mechanisms of brain and spinal cord injury. His research has been recognized by several awards, including the Silvio O. Conte Decade of the Brain Award, the Christopher Reeve Research Medal, and the Ho-Am Prize in Medical Science.

Dr. Choi has served on numerous scientific and advisory boards, including the National Academy of Sciences Board on Life Sciences, advisory committees to the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health, and as chairman of the U.S./Canada Regional Committee of the International Brain Research Organization. He has been a member of multiple editorial boards, including founding co-editorship of the journal, Neurobiology of Disease.

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