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Historical Department of Neurology Leaders

A.M. Barrett, MD is the current chair of the Department of Neurology


A.M. Barrett, MD (2022 to the present)

AM Barrett, MD FAAN, FANA, FASNR, is the chair of the Department of Neurology for UMass Chan Medical School and UMass Memorial Healthcare, aswell as the chief of neurology for the Central Western MA VA Healthcare System since 2022.

Accomplished physician-scientist A.M. Barrett, MD, joined UMass Chan Medical School as chair and professor of neurology. Barrett’s extensive experience brings together training in cognitive neurology and neuropsychology, neurology, medicine and brain injury. Barrett's research program encompasses brain-behavior relationships relevant to spatial cognition and rehabilitation of spatial neglect; person-centered care and outcomes relevant to function and life participation; and identification and management of hidden disabilities and mechanisms of deficit unawareness.

Board-certified in neurology, behavioral neurology and neuropsychiatry, and brain injury medicine, Barrett earned her medical degree at New York University School of Medicine. She completed an internship at Norwalk Hospital/Yale University School of Medicine, neurology residency at Columbia University/the Neurological Institute of New York, and fellowships in behavioral neurology and neuropsychiatry neuropsychology at the University of Florida. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, the American Neurological Association and the American Society of Neurorehabilitation. She is also a fellow of the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program for Women at the Drexel University College of Medicine. .

Barrett succeeds Brian Silver, MD, the Endowed Chair in Neuroscience Research and professor of neurology, who served as interim chair following the tenure of chair Robert H. Brown Jr., DPhil, MD, the Donna M. and Robert J. Manning Chair in Neurosciences and professor of neurology.

Catherine Phillips, MD

Catherine Phillips, MD (UMass tenure 1989 to 2022)

Catherine A. Phillips, MD, was the founding member of UMass Chan Medical School Epilepsy Division. Dr. Phillips  joined the Department of Neurology in 1989, being recruited by the founding Chair of the Department of Neurology, David A. Drachman, MD, to support the development of a new comprehensive epilepsy center with a surgical epilepsy program.


Cathy was born in Princeton, NJ, but grew up in Japan where her father, an ordained Presbyterian Minister, worked as a Christion missionary for 17 years. She returned to the United States in 1975 and spent the next 4 years at Oberlin College where she majored in Chemistry. Her family moved to Northern California which led Cathy to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and she earned her MD in 1983. She completed her internship in internal medicine at Pennsylvania Hospital. Her neurology residency program was completed at the University of Pennsylvania/Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), followed by a fellowship in Electroencephalography and Epilepsy at Graduate Hospital/University of Pennsylvania (HUP) under the mentorship of Michael Sperling, MD.


Cathy always loved caring for patients, and she changed the lives of many patients with epilepsy by understanding how to better control their seizure disorders.  Her desire to improve patient’s quality of life was the catalyst to grow the UMass Chan Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, focusing on patient-centered treatment options, which included epilepsy surgery. She also served as the Ambulatory Physician Leader for the Neurology Clinic along with educating a generation of neurology residents and fellows on the management of epilepsy. She was very active in the Epilepsy Foundation of New England and in 2019 was the featured clinician at that organization’s Candlelight Dinner. She was a dedicated volunteer at the Epilepsy Foundation’s summer camp program for children with epilepsy. 

Cathy retired from UMass Chan Medical School in September 2020, and now enjoys spending more time with family and friends. She lives in Shrewsbury with her husband Dr. Stephen Erban who works in the UMass Chan Medical School’s Department of Medicine. They have two adult sons, Benjamin and Joshua Erban. Joshua is a 2022 graduate of the UMass Chan Medical School. 

In 2022, the Phillips-Erban Family established the Catherine A. Phillips, MD, Lectureship.

Jane Sargent, MD

Jane Sargent, MD (UMass tenure 1978 to 2021)

professor of neurology, mentor, and advocate

Jane Sargent, MD, served our Neurology Department for forty-three years. As one of the founding original faculty members in our Department of Neurology, her passion for teaching touched the careers and experiences of hundreds of our trainees, residents, and staff as well as the patients she cherished.

Dr. Sargent attended Pennsylvania's historic Hahnemann University College of Medicine where she earned her MD In 1974. She completed her residency program with the Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Sargent was especially passionate about neuro-ophthalmology and neurophysiology. Students and staff considered her insight, knowledge, and understanding essential to manage tough and complex cases. She was the trusted expert. Her peers tell us that she knew as much about local academic politics as medicine. She led as a mentor, supporter, and confidant.

She was a consistent supporter of nurses in their clinical roles. She fought for women’s rights in the workplace, advocating to increase the number of women residents, and advocated for gender equality in pay. Her partnership with (NANOS) North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society, and Women in Neuro-ophthalmology meetings touched other professionals nationwide. Her style in mentorship and her leadership was nurtured through her care, consideration, and respect for her peers, patients, students, and the staff she worked with every day. Not only was she a devout doctor, she enjoyed traveling and beekeeping, but her role as mother and grandmother held her delight. Jane Sargent passed away in 2021, but her legacy and influence lives on in our community.

David Paydarfar, MD

David Paydarfar, MD (UMass tenure 1997 to 2017)

David Paydarfar, MD, served as professor and executive vice chair of the Department of Neurology at the UMass Chan Medical School until 2017, and as Associate Faculty of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

Paydarfar, MD, earned his BS in Physics (summa cum laude) from Duke University and medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed his residency training in neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, MA.

Dr. Paydarfar serves as a fellow of the American Neurological Association and an investigator of the Clayton Foundation for Research.  Currently he serves as professor and inaugural chair of the Department of Neurology at the Dell Medical.

William Schwartz, MD

William Schwartz, MD (UMass tenure 1986 to 2016)

William J. Schwartz, MD, received his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1974 and completed his neurology residency training from 1978 to 1981 at the University of California, San Francisco. 

Schwartz, MD, completed a research fellowship at the National Institute of Mental Health during 1975 to 1978 and was on the faculties of Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital from 1981 to 1986 before moving to UMass Chan Medical School. Dr. Schwartz's visiting professorships have included the Boerhaave Professor at Leiden University Medical Centre in 2005 and the Baerends Visiting Chair at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in 2008, both in the Netherlands; and the Hood Fellow at the University of Auckland in 2012 in New Zealand.

William Schwartz, MD, contributed to the UMass Chan Medical School, Department of Neurology between 1986 to 2016.

Daniel Pollen, MD

Daniel Pollen, MD (UMass tenure 1983 to 2015)

professor of neurology

Daniel A. Pollen, MD, graduated from Harvard College in 1956 with a degree in Physics, and Harvard Medical School in 1960. 

He became interested in how the brain works and followed up medical school with an internship at the Cleveland Metropolitan Hospital in 1961, and a fellowship at the Montreal Neurological Institute from 1961 to 1963. Polen, MD, then served as a Lieutenant Commander from 1963 to 1965 in the US Public Health Service. Dr. Pollen joined the Faculty at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1965 to 1979 where he ran a research lab as an assistant professor of neurology. 

He became director of research at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix from 1979 to 1983, and then a professor of neurology at the UMass Chan Medical School in Worcester from 1983 to 2015. 

As a neurologist, he made important contributions to understanding epilepsy, visual perception and Alzheimer’s disease. He chronicled the personal, historic and scientific aspects of the search for genes causing Alzheimer’s in the critically acclaimed book Hannah’s Heirs: The Quest for the Genetic Origins of Alzheimer’s Disease (1993). His book illustrated his personal belief in the intertwined nature of science, integrity, social justice, duty and caregiving—a belief he lived and taught. Dr. Pollen continued treating patients and pursuing ideas on the origin of consciousness through age 80 and took great joy in teaching an undergraduate seminar on perception and consciousness at Harvard College.

Marc Fisher, MD

Marc Fisher, MD (UMass tenure 1978 to 2014)

Marc Fisher, MD, has had a long career as a translational and clinical researcher in the stroke field.

He was at the UMass Chan Medical School for 36 years, retiring in 2014. 

Fisher, MD, led a stroke modeling lab for 25 years that focused on using MRI technology to evaluate the ischemic penumbra and the effects of many types of therapies on the evolution of ischemic injury.  Dr. Fisher trained more than 25 research fellows from around the world, many of whom currently hold prestigious positions.

Marc Fisher, MD, participated in many clinical trials as either a principal investigator or steering committee member. Fisher was also an active clinician and teacher. Currently, Dr. Fisher is a part-time member of the neurology faculty at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and is a part-time professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. He continues to see patients and teach residents and stroke fellows. 

David Drachman, MD, founding chair of the Department of Neurology

David A. Drachman, MD (UMass tenure 1977 - 2002)

Founding Chair for the Department of Neurology at UMass Chan Medical School

Our founding Chair, David A. Drachman, MD, died on Dec. 5, 2016 at the age of 84.

As chair and professor of the Department of Neurology at UMass Chan Medical School from 1977 to 2002, Drachman was one of the earliest proponents of research into the understanding of Alzheimer's disease. He earned international acclaim for his groundbreaking investigations into dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders; the neurology of aging; and the diagnosis and treatment of dizziness. Possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of his specialty, he was a gifted and beloved teacher of medical students and neurology residents. He founded the UMass Chan Medical School chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha in 1996, the medical student honor society to which he himself had been elected while in medical school.

Drachman received his bachelor’s degree from Columbia College summa cum laude in 1952 and his medical degree from New York University College of Medicine in 1956. 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.

He served as president of the American Neurological Association; chair of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board of the National Alzheimer’s Association; a member of the Advisory Panel on Alzheimer’s Disease to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Congress; a member of the Advisory Panel for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Peripheral and Central Nervous System Drugs; and chair of the section on Geriatric Neurology of the American Academy of Neurology. Drachman was also instrumental in developing what is now the Alzheimer’s Association.

Drachman cherished his life’s work, saying, “The ability to serve as a devoted ‘fixer’ for human medical problems has been the focus of my life as a physician . . . assuring that in my hands, and in those of my colleagues, patients would always receive the best possible medical, personal and scientific care.”

Elliott Marcus, MD

Elliott Marcus, MD (UMass tenure 1976 to 1998)

Organized the initial neurology service between UMass students and St. Vincents Hospital

Elliott M. Marcus, MD, was a professor of neurology at the UMass Chan Medical School and a former professor at Tufts Medical School.

Marcus, MD, was a scholarship student at Yale University and graduated magna cum laude with distinction in psychology in 1954.

Marcus was selected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society in his junior year at Tufts Medical School. He received postgraduate training in medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital and in neurology, neuropathology and neurophysiology at Tufts New England Medical Center and Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. 

While at Columbia, Elliott Marcus, MD, met his future wife, R. Nuran Turksoy, MD, and became a supporter of women in medicine. He was passionate about the teaching of neuroscience and neurology, and established the neuroscience teaching program at Tufts where he received numerous teaching awards. In 1976 he moved to UMass Chan Medical School and to St. Vincent's Hospital in Worcester where he organized an academic neurology service. 

After his retirement in 1998, Marcus continued to teach neurology to students and residents. At UMass Chan Medical School he published many research papers in the field of epilepsy. He co-authored four neuroscience textbooks with Stanley Jacobson, MD, and was working on a new revision of his first book, An Introduction to Neurosciences, at the time of his death in 2011.

Marcus was the founding President of the Massachusetts Neurological Association in 1978 and served as MNA President again in 1995 to 1997. He was an active member of the American Neurological Association, the American Epilepsy Society and the American Academy of Neurology. He was an avid sailor, student of history and loved exploring archeological sites in Turkey and Greece.