Chad Heatwole, M.D., M.S., has been appointed the new director of the Center for Health + Technology (CHeT) at the University of Rochester. Selected through a national search process, Heatwole took over on a permanent basis on April 25 from Ray Dorsey, M.D., who led the Center since 2013.
“CHeT has a proud history dating back 35 years and has played a leading role in the study and approval of many of the drugs we use today to treat Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases,” said Bob Holloway, M.D., chair of the URMC department of Neurology. “More recently, under Ray’s leadership CHeT has become a pioneer in deploying technologies to improve remote access to specialized care and allow broader participation in clinical research. Chad is well-positioned to lead CHeT into the next chapter and bring patients and communities – across a range of diseases – more into the center of what we do and become true partners in the development of future therapeutics.”
“Chad has played a pivotal role in our Neuromuscular Disease Center, particular the study of myotonic dystrophies, which is recognized as one of the top programs in the world,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., CEO of URMC and dean of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. “He has helped create a robust infrastructure to support clinical trials, which has been instrumental in the growth of the neuromuscular program and we look forward to extending these efforts across the Medical Center, under CHeT. I also want to thank Ray for his transformative leadership and creating a strong foundation which will ensure that CHeT thrives under Chad’s guidance.”
Heatwole is a professor of Neurology with a research focus in experimental therapeutics and is sought out by patients from across the country for his expertise in neuromuscular disease and myotonic dystrophy. Since 2018, he has served as associate director of CHeT and director of center’s Outcomes Measures division. In that role, he has overseen the development of more than 100 patient-centered, disease-specific research instruments that focus on measuring changes in health. These instruments have been translated into 12 different languages and are used by academic, industry, and government researchers around the globe to measure clinically relevant changes in health in response to therapeutic interventions during clinical trials.
“CHeT’s mission is to advance human therapeutics, patient health, and scientific knowledge,” said Heatwole. “At the heart of our mission is the patient and their families. In partnership with our uniquely talented, skilled, and experienced group at CHet, we aim to facilitate the development, identification, dissemination, and approval of therapies that are meaningful and improve the daily lives of individuals with complex disorders. This will remain one of our core principles as we strengthen and expand our public, private, and academic research connections, continue to be a leader in technological innovation and outcome measure development, and grow our University mentorship and training programs.”
CHeT can trace its roots back to the Clinical Trials Coordination Center (CTCC), a unique academic-based research organization with decades of experience providing scientific, technical, logistical, and operational logistical support for industry, foundations, and governmental researchers conducting clinical trials in neurological disorders. Since its inception in 1987, the CTCC has played a central role in bringing seven new drugs to market to treat Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and periodic paralysis. Cynthia Casaceli, M.B.A., is director of CTCC and served as interim director of CHeT for the last 9 months. In 2008, the Clinical Materials Services Unit (CMSU), currently led by Cornelia Kamp, M.S., R.N.C., A.P., was added to CTCC to create a dedicated, on-site facility to manage entire supply chains in support of clinical trials.
Dorsey took over as director of CHeT in 2013, and expanded the Center by creating the Innovation division, which he will continue to lead, the Outcome Measures division led by Heatwole, and an Analytics division led by Charles Venuto, Pharm.D. Under Dorsey’s leadership, CHeT became a recognized leader and innovator in harnessing digital health technologies such as telemedicine, wearables, remote monitoring, and mobile apps to improve access to care and conduct decentralized clinical trials.