The University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson opened its doors as a four-year medical school in 1955.
The first neurologist hired was Dr. William Gillen, who arrived in 1958 and left in early 1959. Dr. Richard Naef went into private practice in Jackson in July 1959 and became a visiting neurologist at the University Medical Center at the same time.The first permanent faculty member in neurology was Dr. Robert Currier (1961); the second was Dr. Armin Haerer (1965). Since then there has been a steady, and at times rapid, growth in the size of the faculty.
Neurology became a division of the Department of Medicine at UMMC in 1961.A neurologist began to work at the VA Medical Center shortly thereafter on a part-time basis, and neurologists were part of the Medicine Service at the VA Medical Center and associated with UMMC until many years later. Neurology became a separate department at UMMC in 1977 and a separate clinical service at the VA Medical Center in 1978.Neurology patients were separated out of Medicine when Neurology became a department at UMMC and a separate service at the VA. Patients at the Medical Center were housed on various floors, 5West and 7West being the principal locations, as well as the private patient floors. At the VA, neurology was housed on 4A, then went to the third floor and eventually was moved to 2L in 1992 when the new clinical addition opened. The Department of Neurology offices moved from the medical school building at the UMMC into what is now called the James D. Hardy Clinical Sciences Building when it opened in 1977. Dr. Currier served as the first chairman until 1990, when Dr. James Corbett took over. Dr. Shri Mishra became chief of the neurology service at the VA in 1978 and remained until 1987. He was replaced by Dr. Haerer in 1989 who is retired. Dr. Eric Undesser served as VA chief of neurology from 1995-2020.Postgraduate training was part of the neurology department's mission from the very beginning. The first neurology resident graduated in 1964. There have been numerous neurology residents over the years. Their training years and later practice locations are listed in the appendix. Many neurophysiology fellows were trained as well; they are also listed in the appendix. Dr. Desaiah trained a number of research fellows in neuropharmacology. There were cross-appointments between neurology and other services over the years, including pathology, ophthalmology, otology, pediatrics, medicine, neurosurgery and radiology.Special units set up at the Medical Center in the Department of Neurology have included Stroke Centers; the first one was a precursor of modern stroke units, set up in the late 1960s and the second one in the early 1990s. A comprehensive epilepsy center was established in 1995 under the direction of Dr. Mech Sundaram. It is a member of the National Association of Epilepsy Centers. Outreach activities of the department from 1970-85 included a number of in-state clinics for persons with neurologic disorders, mainly epileptics, who were medically indigent. Clinics at one of the state charity hospitals in Vicksburg were held for a number of years. Close association with the VA Medical Center has been continuous since 1970. Special clinics included those for muscular dystrophy (MDA clinic), multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, neuromuscular disorders, neurogenetics and neuro-ophthalmology. Special interests of the neurology faculty and staff have included cerebrovascular disease, neurogenetics, cerebellar degeneration, cerebrospinal fluid, demyelinating disease, epilepsy, neuromuscular disorders, neuro-epidemiology, neuro-ophthalmology, neuro-oncology, vestibular disorders, neurobehavioral and cognitive disorders, and neurotoxicology.