Physician Aims to Better Understand Childhood Neurological Problems

September 21, 2001

After 20 years of studying and practicing medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, Jonathan Mink, M.D., was ready for a new professional challenge. After carefully weighing his options, he and his family packed up their belongings and trekked across the country.

Mink, originally from Minnesota, planted new roots this summer in Pittsford before assuming his new position as chief of the division of pediatric neurology at Children's Hospital at Strong. He's already taken on a full patient load and is continuing work on his substantial research interests. Mink is a nationally recognized expert in movement disorders in children.

"I think it's important to find the proper balance of patient care and research," Mink says. "My clinical interests involve treating children who have movement disorders, including Tourette syndrome, chorea, and dystonia. My research interests are closely related, and I receive funding for research on chorea and dystonia research from the National Institutes of Health."

Mink has big plans to further grow pediatric neurology services at Children's Hospital at Strong. By next year, he hopes to add two or three additional pediatric neurologists. "My goal is to make the hospital a national leader not only in patient care, but also in pediatric neurology research, which is where new answers, new treatments, and new cures will inevitably be found," he says.

As an example of his innovation, Mink is helping to lead a new research effort - called the Childhood Motor Disorders Study Group - to find ways to test new therapies for motor disorders in children. The multi-center study includes Children's Hospital at Strong, as well as Northwestern University, Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, and Stanford University.

The trial will include children ages 4 to 16, some of whom will be given trihexyphenidyl, a drug used to treat adults who have Parkinson's disease or dystonia. The drug has not been studied in the treatment of children, so Mink and his colleagues are studying its potential effectiveness.

"With many childhood neurological disorders, it is unlikely - because they are so rare - that a single medical center would have enough cases for solid research," Mink says. "With a few exceptions, there's not been much of an effort nationwide in pediatric neurology to interact with other medical centers. By forging collaborative relationships with others, however, we can share information and expertise, and recruit enough patients with a single disorder, giving us a sample size worthy of study."

Mink lives in Pittsford with his wife, Janet Cranshaw, M.D., a pediatrician, his daughter, 7, and his son, 4. He's pleased with his decision to move to Rochester.

"I've been impressed with the community pediatricians and quality of patient care for children who have neurological problems," Mink says. "I'm encouraged that pediatricians have been happy with their interactions with our department, and we hope to provide even better service as we bring on additional faculty. Rochester is known for its cooperation, and that kind of attitude is still very much alive in pediatrics. We have a solid tradition to uphold."

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