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David A. Drachman, MD

History (1977-2008)

Our Department of Neurology was inaugurated on August 31, 1977, under the leadership of the founding chair, Dr. David Drachman. In the first year, Dr. Drachman recruited six faculty members and was approved to begin a neurology residency to train three residents each year. After the first year, the department achieved fiscal balance, which was maintained each year until 2001. In 1980 Dr. Randall Long joined the department, becoming Vice Chair in 1986. Dr. Drachman and colleagues established fellowship programs in Neurophysiology, Epilepsy, Neuromuscular Disorders, Multiple Sclerosis and Geriatric Neurology. The Geriatrics and Neuromuscular Disorders were discontinued respectively in 1985 and 1996. Between 1977 and 2000, the faculty grew to include 20 physicians and 5 PhDs. During that period, basic and clinical research programs were initiated in several areas including Alzheimer Disease, Movement Disorders, Multiple Sclerosis, Neuro-oncology, Circadian Neurobiology, Respiratory Neurophysiology, ALS, Epilepsy, Vision Physiology, and Headache. At its peak, research funding was more than $2 million/year. Robust clinical services were provided for both inpatients and outpatients. The primary locus of clinical activities was the main UMass Medical School campus. Affiliates were located at Memorial Hospital, St. Vincent’s Hospital and Worcester City Hospital (now closed) as well as at several outlying facilities. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Memorial Hospital established its own independent neurology service. An act of the Massachusetts legislature merged the clinical facilities at the UMass campus with Memorial Hospital in 1998. In 2000-2001, a combination of adverse circumstances associated with that merger (including an imperfect business plan) and declining collection rates for neurology and other departments led the clinical system to implement a financial reorganization that eliminated virtually all reserve funds in several departments, including neurology. Dr. Drachman stepped down from his position as Chair of Neurology in 2002. Fortunately, he has remained very active both clinically and in teaching residents and students; he has also maintained an academic research program testing concepts in therapy of Alzheimer disease. From 2002 through 2008, Dr. Randy Long served as Interim chair of neurology. Under Dr. Long’s stewardship, the Department remained clinically and academically strong.