URMC Physician Elected President of American Academy of Neurology

Apr. 29, 2009

University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) neurologist Robert C. Griggs, M.D. has been elected president of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), the world's largest professional organization of neurologists.

Griggs, who was elected at the AAN's annual meeting this week in Seattle, will lead an organization that was established 1948 and consists of more than 21,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals. Griggs has also served as chair of the AAN Education Committee and editor-in-chief of the Academy's prestigious scientific journal Neurology for 10 years.

"Dr. Griggs is a visionary and has made extraordinary contributions to the field of neurology," said Catherine M. Rydell, executive director and CEO of the AAN. "His decades of leadership with the Academy and the respect of his peers position him well to lead the organization. The AAN relies on outstanding continued leadership as we look ahead toward furthering research and treatments for the neurology patient and professional."

Griggs is a professor of Neurology, Medicine, Pathology, Laboratory Medicine and Pediatrics and served as chair of the department of Neurology from 1986 to 2008 during which time the department witnessed significant growth in research funding and faculty. The department now ranks among the top ten in the nation in terms of research funding from the National Institutes of Health and has become the hub of an international network of physicians investigating new treatments for several neurological diseases, including Parkinson's, Huntington's, muscular dystrophy, and multiple sclerosis.

Griggs is recognized as a leading authority on a variety of neuromuscular disorders. He helped develop treatment for the most common form of muscular dystrophy and he is currently leading a large study to evaluate new ways to treat the disease. Griggs is also an expert in a rare neurological condition called periodic paralysis and is sought out by patients from around the world for treatment of the disorder. In 2003, the NIH tapped Griggs to lead one of seven national centers investigating especially rare diseases. Griggs' center at URMC focuses on three rare neurological disorders – including periodic paralysis – called channelopathies.

Griggs has received numerous awards and recognitions and is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a physician. He has also authored more than 350 scientific papers and is neurology editor of Cecil Textbook of Medicine and an editor of Cecil Essentials of Medicine – textbooks that are used to teach nearly every medical student in the nation.

"It is an honor to be selected as president of the AAN and a testament to the high regard that the University of Rochester is held within the neuromedicine community," said Griggs, who will serve a two-year term. "My goal is to continue to build upon the Academy's strong foundation and continue to serve as an indispensable resource to promote the highest quality neurological care for patients, advance our understanding of neurological disorders, and strengthen efforts to train the next generation of neurological physicians and scientists."