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New Chair heralds neuroscience growth

Published on Tuesday, September 15, 2009

By: Patrice Guilfoyle,


Dr. Alexander P. Auchus saw the rich history of the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the success of its clinical programs and knew this was fertile ground.

"My reasons for being here are to further grow the Department of Neurology, expand the reach of clinical neurosciences at UMMC and strengthen our position as a regionally recognized center for neurological education, patient care and research," said Auchus, professor and McCarty Chair of Neurology.

Three weeks into his job, Auchus refers to a large organizational chart taped to his office door to learn the leadership structure of the institution. Each time he meets someone, he pencils the name of the person next to the title on the chart. That seems appropriate for a physician whose life's work revolves around memory.

Before joining the Medical Center, he was a professor of neurology and director of Alzheimer's research at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. His research interests are Alzheimer's disease and related dementias in non-Caucasians. He previously led Emory University's Alzheimer's Disease Center satellite clinics, where he treated mostly African-Americans, and he worked as a consultant neurologist in Singapore, studying stroke-related dementia in their ethnic Chinese population.

Auchus said the vision of Dr. Dan Jones, former vice chancellor for health affairs, was a significant influence on his deciding to join the Medical Center. Other factors that made the Medical Center attractive were a single leadership structure with the hospitals, the recent consolidation of University Physicians into a multispecialty group practice and the unique position of UMMC as the state's only academic health science center.

A New Jersey native, Auchus earned his M.D. at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and completed residency training in neurology at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, where he was chief resident. He also completed a research fellowship at Cornell University Medical College and a clinical fellowship in geriatric neurology and neuropsychiatry at Emory University.

Auchus, married to a clinical psychologist and father of two children, hopes to collaborate with existing research studies at the Medical Center and continue his investigative work. Increasing the department's faculty is also high on his agenda.

The foundations of neurology, including stroke, epilepsy and neuromuscular services, are well represented at UMMC, but he says he wants to make those areas "bigger and better." He also plans to recruit new faculty in neurological sub-specialty areas such as neurocritical care, movement disorders and neuroimmunology.