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David A. Drachman (1932-2016)

David A. Drachman, MD

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 UMMS 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 (1932-2011)

Elliott M. Marcus, MD

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

He was a scholarship student at Yale University and graduated magna cum laude with distinction in psychology in 1954. He 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, he 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, he 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. He was the founding President of the Massachusetts Neurological Association in 1978 and served as MNA President again in 1995–1997. 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.  

Daniel Pollen (1935-2016)

Daniel A. Pollen, MD

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 1961–1963. Daniel then served as a Lieutenant Commander from 1963–1965 in the US Public Health Service. Dr. Pollen joined the Faculty at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1965–1979 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 –1983, and then a professor of neurology at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester from 1983 –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

Marc Fisher, MD

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. While there, he 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. He trained more than 25 research fellows from around the world, many of whom currently hold prestigious positions.

He participated in many clinical trials as either a principal investigator or steering committee member. Dr. 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. He is the editor-in-chief of Stroke and will hold that position until 2020.

David Paydarfar

David Paydarfar, MD

David Paydarfar, MD, served as professor and executive vice chair of the Department of Neurology at the UMass Chan Medical School until 2016, and as Associate Faculty of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

Paydarfar 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.

He 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

William J. Schwartz, MD

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

He completed a research fellowship at the National Institute of Mental Health during 1975–1978 and was on the faculties of Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital from 1981–1986 before moving to UMass Chan Medical School. 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.