Leading Parkinson’s disease specialist Dr. Howard Hurtig, has been named the first holder of the Frank A. and Gwladys H. Elliott Chair of Neurology. The Elliott chair is the first ever endowed university position at Pennsylvania Hospital.
Penn’s School of Medicine and Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first, have enjoyed a relationship of varying formality over the past 250 years. The hospital was the original training ground for Penn medical students until the 1870s, when the medical school moved to West Philadelphia. In 1997, Pennsylvania Hospital and UPHS merged, organizationally uniting the School of Medicine and Pennsylvania Hospital once again.
The Elliott chair is an important milestone, according to Dr. Glen Gaulton, the executive vice dean and chief scientific officer of the School of Medicine. “This new chair recognizes our shared ambition to integrate excellence in medical research, care, and education in all we do,” said Dr. Gaulton.
Dr. Kate Kinslow, Pennsylvania Hospital’s executive director, noted, “With his clinical expertise and creative vision, Dr. Elliott altered how neurology was practiced here at Pennsylvania Hospital, following in the footsteps of many medical pioneers who worked here before him. Now Dr. Hurtig is expanding that vision in a whole new clinical arena, to the benefit of our patients.”
Added Dr. Francisco Gonzalez-Scarano, professor and chair of the department of neurology, “This generous bequest from a physician who was a long-term member of the Penn community cements the relationship between Pennsylvania Hospital and Penn’s department of neurology. Howard Hurtig was not only Dr. Elliott’s successor and friend, but is also a superb clinician and a worthy recipient of this honor.”
The chair was funded through the estate of Dr. Frank A. Elliott; he established the department of neurology at Pennsylvania Hospital in 1959. It was his request that the chair be awarded to a researcher/practitioner at Pennsylvania Hospital.
During his tenure at Pennsylvania Hospital, Dr. Elliott focused mainly on stroke prevention. In the 1960s, he developed one of the first stroke risk-analysis clinics in the U.S. His initiatives to recruit accomplished neurologists and begin a residency training program helped establish Pennsylvania Hospital’s current strength in the neurosciences.
Dr. Hurtig is the current chief of service of the department of neurology at Pennsylvania Hospital. He has continued Dr. Elliott’s legacy of building research and treatment programs that help patients with neurodegenerative disorders. Dr. Hurtig has played a critical role in the founding of both the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center and the ALS Center at Pennsylvania Hospital. He is currently the co-director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center.
Throughout his career, Dr. Hurtig has participated in numerous clinical trials for Parkinson’s disease (PD) drugs. His main research interest has been in the clinical-neuropathological correlation of PD and PD dementia in collaboration with Drs. John Trojanowski and Virginia Lee.
Dr. Kinslow praised Dr. Hurtig as “a consummate teacher of young people,” adding that “we are proud and honored that he is with us at Pennsylvania Hospital.”