Mink receives Award for Excellence in Tourette Syndrome

Jul. 1, 2015

Jonathan W. Mink, M.D., Ph.D., the Frederick A. Horner, M.D. Endowed Professor in Pediatric Neurology, and Chief of the Division of Child Neurology at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital, has received the first Dr. Oliver Sacks Award for Excellence in Tourette Syndrome.

The award, presented by the Tourette Association of America, was announced at the First World Congress on Tourette Syndrome and Tic Disorders in London.

“Dr. Sacks is a personal hero of mine and was an inspiration for me to become a neurologist,” said Mink, who has researched and treated Tourette Syndrome for several decades. “It is especially gratifying to be recognized by the Tourette Association, an exemplary organization that I hold in the highest regard for their outstanding work in advocacy, education, and research programs that benefit the Tourette Syndrome and Tic Disorders community.”

Mink is a national leader in the field of pediatric movement disorders. He led the development of the first guidelines for use of Deep Brain Stimulation in treating adults with Tourette Syndrome that is resistant to other treatment, and developed a model for how brain circuits malfunction in patients with the disease. He has been involved with the Tourette Association of America since 1996, and has acted as a mentor to many young scientists and clinicians who have devoted their careers to Tourette Syndrome.

While many of the 3,500 patients seen by the Division of Child Neurology come from the region, some patients with Tourette Syndrome travel to Rochester from outside the state or country to visit with Mink’s team.

“Dr. Mink’s leadership here is one of the main reasons that the University of Rochester Medical Center is a destination for children and families searching for the best possible neurological care, and he’s been a tireless advocate for people with Tourette Syndrome,” said Robert G. Holloway, M.D., chair of the Department of Neurology at URMC. “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award than him.”

“Dr. Mink has long been a voice not only for patients and families, but also for the Tourette Association, an organization that provides advocacy, education, and support for individuals affected by Tourette Syndrome,” said Nina Schor, M.D., Ph.D., pediatrician-in-chief at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Sacks, for whom the award is named, is a neurologist who has published several best-selling books on people with neurological disorders. In February 2015, he announced in a New York Times op-ed that he had terminal cancer; the Tourette Association of America worked with him to create the award in his honor.

“Oliver Sacks always had empathy, passion, and was committed to understanding his patients,” said Reid Ashinoff, past chair and current member of the board of directors for the Tourette Association of America. “And those qualities are things we hear about Jon all the time.”

Mink was unable to attend the First World Congress on Tourette Syndrome, which took place from June 24-26, so the Tourette Association of America instead sent representatives to URMC, where they presented the award in a surprise ceremony.

In addition to Tourette Syndrome, Mink treats patients with dystonia, chorea, tics, myoclonus, parkinsonism, and other movement disorders. He also leads the Batten Disease Diagnostic and Clinical Research Center, the largest clinical research group for Batten Disease in the country.