David A. drachman, MD, STEPS down as chair of Neurology at UmASS MEDICAL SCHOOL AND UMASS MEMORIAL HEALTH CARE


Alzheimer’s and dementia expert to focus on research and teaching


November 1, 2002


WORCESTER, Mass.— David A. Drachman, MD, professor and founding chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) and UMass Memorial Health Care, has announced his decision to step down as chair, a position he has held for more than twenty-five years. Internationally acclaimed for his groundbreaking investigations into dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders and for his development of a neurology department that has provided state-of-the-art care to people throughout central Massachusetts, Dr. Drachman will relinquish his administrative duties while continuing to focus on teaching and research as a professor in the department, and continuing his patient care.


A resident of Concord, Mass., Drachman came to UMMS in 1977 from Northwestern University Medical School, where he was professor and associate chair of neurology and director of the neurology clinics, to head the newly formed department. A quarter-century later, Drachman’s commitment to shaping neurology at the Medical School and hospital has been reinforced and rewarded as it has grown to be the largest training, research and clinical neurology facility in central New England.


Drachman received his AB from Columbia College, summa cum laude, and his medical degree from New York University College of Medicine in 1956, where he was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor society.  Following his internship in medicine at Duke University Hospital, and completion of his residency in neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital, he held teaching fellowships in neurology and neuropathology at Harvard University.  He was also a clinical associate at the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness before joining the Northwestern faculty in 1963.


While providing leadership to the Department of Neurology, Drachman also pursued his individual investigations into dementia and related disorders, the relationship of memory to brain structure and dizziness.   Most recently, he co-authored a study which concluded that people age 50 and older could be 70 percent less likely to develop dementia if prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins.


In addition, as one of the earliest proponents of research into the understanding of Alzheimer's disease, Drachman's scientific writings have been pivotal in the initial identification and the development of the drugs now used in the disorder's treatment and in establishing the criteria for its diagnosis. Working with colleagues, industrialists and celebrities, Drachman was also instrumental in developing what is now the National Alzheimer’s Association. Through this association, he proposed the initial plan for the National Institutes of Health Alzheimer's Centers of Excellence, with Congress subsequently mandating funding for the first five centers. As these centers have become a reality, Drachman has been recognized for his achievements with numerous awards; and he has served as president of the American Neurological Association. 


Drachman currently participates on the editorial boards of six journals including the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports, Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, and others. In addition, he is an editorial reviewer for the Mayo Foundation as well as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Science, Brain, Neurology and numerous other scientific publications.  He has also published more than 250 articles and abstracts in scientific and medical journals and has lectured and presented papers before scientific audiences throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. 


Professor of Neurology Randall R. Long, MD, PhD, who has been a vice chair of the department for the past 17 years, will assume the role of interim chair while a search committee is formed to replace Drachman.


The University of Massachusetts Medical School is one of the fastest growing medical schools in the country, attracting more than $134 million in research funding annually.  A perennial top ten finisher in the annual US News & World Report ranking of primary care medical schools, UMMS comprises a medical school, graduate school of nursing, graduate school of biomedical sciences and an active research enterprise, and is a leader in health sciences education, research and public service.


The clinical partner of the Medical School, UMass Memorial Health Care is central Massachusetts’ largest not-for-profit health care delivery system, covering the complete health care continuum with teaching hospitals, affiliated community hospitals, freestanding primary care practices, ambulatory outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities, home health agencies, hospice programs, a rehabilitation group and mental health services. 



Alison Duffy, 508-856-2000