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Dennis Choi MD, PhD
Chair of the Department of Neurology
Director of the Institute for Advanced Neurosciences

Dennis received his Medical Degree from the combined Harvard University / Massachusetts Institute of Technology joint Health Sciences and Technology Program, as well as a PhD in Pharmacology from Harvard. He then performed an internship in Medicine and residency in Neurology, and a fellowship in EEG and evoked potentials at Harvard. Dennis is Board certified in Neurology and holds additional specialty certification from the American Board of Clinical Neurophysiology and the American Board of Electrodiagnostic Medicine.

Dennis began his academic career at Stanford University, soon being promoted to Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences. In 1991, Dennis moved to Washington University where he was appointed the Andrew B. and Gretchen P. Jones Professor and Head of Neurology, and Neurologist-in-Chief at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, in St. Louis, MO. While at Washington University Dennis also served as the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Nervous System Injury (now endowed as the Hope Center for Neurological Disorders), and the Director of the McDonnell Center for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology. In 2001, Dennis moved to become Executive Vice-President for Neurosciences at Merck Research Labs. In 2006 Dennis returned to academe, and in 2007 he was appointed the Executive Director of the Comprehensive Neurosciences Initiative at Emory University, later additionally serving as Vice President for Academic Health Affairs of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center at Emory.  For the past two years Dennis has served as Executive Vice President of the Simons Foundation here in New York.

Over his career Dennis has made a profound and lasting impact on the science of neurological disorders. He has penned over 170 peer-reviewed scientific papers, over 60 review articles and over 50 book chapters, editing 6 books along the way.  Dennis’ work as a graduate student led to the co-discovery of how benzodiazepine drugs work to enhance gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) actions. Later his laboratory studied pathological neuronal cell death, discovering a key role for N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activation and calcium overload in excitotoxicity, and for zinc in ischemic brain injury. Dennis holds 7 patents for his highly innovative work. More recently, Dennis has worked to advance translational clinical research, including biomarker development for brain disorders. Over his career, Dennis has helped train over 50 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, many of whom now hold prominent academic positions.

Dennis is also highly sought for his scientific insights, serving on too-numerous-to-count NIH and governmental advisory committees, including the advisory council of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and more recently the advisory council of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the Board on Life Sciences of the National Academy of Science and the Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders of the Institute of Medicine. Dennis also has provided insights to non-governmental scientific institutes, including the Max-Planck Institute in Heidelberg, Germany, the Grass Foundation, the Hereditary Disease Foundation, and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

In addition to his prodigious contributions to the literature of neurological disorders, Dennis has also served on the other side of scholarly publications, as the Founding Co-Editor of Neurobiology of Disease and a senior editor of Brain Research, as well as serving on the editorial boards of over 25 distinct scientific journals.

During his distinguished career Dennis has received numerous awards, including the Christopher Reeve Research Medal and the Ho-Am Prize in Medical Science.  He was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, served as president of the Society for Neuroscience and was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science.

Dennis comes to Stony Brook intent on again making a major impact on the clinical, educational and research aspects of the neurosciences. As Chair of Neurology Dennis will address the clinical, educational and research goals set out in the strategic plan for the Stony Brook School of Medicine, including a modestly aggressive expansion of the clinical faculty in the Department of Neurology, designed to enhance the quality, spectrum and timeliness of neurological care delivery within Stony Brook Medicine. Dennis will also lead the recruitment of several physician-scientists to help translate the discoveries of our and others’ neuroscientists into better care for patients everywhere. As director of the Institute for Advanced Neurosciences, I anticipate that Dennis’ leadership will help forge strategic alliances between the four major participating departments in the Institute, Neurology, Neurobiology and Behavior, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. Success in this realm will be evinced by both research and educational accomplishments, including enhanced interdisciplinary grants, the recruitment of successful researchers from the multiple participating departments and the development of successful seminars and mentoring of research intense faculty members across the Institute.

While our goals for the Department of Neurology and the Institute for Advanced Neurosciences are quite ambitious, the intellect, energy and accomplishments of Dennis Choi are more than sufficient to make a major impact on our understanding and clinical care of patients with neurological disorders. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Dennis Choi to Stony Brook Medicine and Stony Brook University.