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MS Expert Named Neurology Department Chairman at OHSU

   Portland, Ore.

Dennis Bourdette plans expanded research on treating, preventing brain diseases

Dennis Bourdette, M.D., interim chairman of the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine's Department of Neurology since April 2000 and a longtime multiple sclerosis researcher, has been named permanent chairman.

Joseph E. Robertson Jr., M.D., M.B.A., dean of the School of Medicine, announced the appointment Feb. 5 during a department meeting.

Bourdette, 54, professor of neurology in the School of Medicine and staff neurologist at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, called his appointment "a tremendous honor."

"I feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity," said Bourdette, a neurologist at OHSU since 1982. "I'm excited about the future of OHSU and the role the Department of Neurology can play in its growth."

Bourdette has become internationally renowned for his research on MS. He is director of OHSU's MS Center of Oregon and serves on the medical advisory board of the National MS Society. He has published numerous articles on the disease and is listed as one of the Best Doctors in America for 2004.

Robertson said Bourdette, the department's third chairman since its creation in 1973, was the natural choice to lead the department.

"During his four-year interim appointment, he helped bring a great deal of national recognition and research dollars to the department and OHSU," he said. "Through its many research centers, the Department of Neurology has consistently represented the 'bench-to-bedside' approach we find taking hold in medicine today, and Dr. Bourdette has perpetuated this emphasis."

One of Bourdette's goals for the department is to enhance fundamental research on how the brain is injured, how it can be protected from injury and how it can be repaired.

"An understanding of those fundamental mechanisms will allow us to develop new therapies for a variety of diseases," Bourdette said. "Over the coming decade, we're going to see tremendous advances in our ability to treat and prevent a variety of neurological diseases."

Department scientists have made discoveries that already are leading to patents and licensing agreements, Bourdette noted. Many are with local biotechnology companies.

"It's highly likely that further research on brain diseases will lead to other patents and licensing agreements, which will help further the development of Oregon's biotechnology industry," he said.

The department, which has some 180 employees, including 36 primary faculty members, will continue its emphasis on research, which drew nearly $11 million in grants and awards in fiscal year 2003. "We plan to expand our research portfolio while significantly improving the service we provide to our patients," Bourdette said.

Bourdette earned his medical degree at the University of California at Davis in 1978 and his bachelor's degree in biology from the University of California at San Diego in 1973. He has served as associate investigator in neuroimmunology at the Portland VA Medical Center and he completed his residency in neurology at OHSU under the department's first chairman, Frank Yatsu, M.D. He was an intern in internal medicine at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, Calif.

Bourdette is a staff neurologist at the Portland VA Medical Center and professor of neurology at OHSU. He served as chief of neurology at the VA before being named interim chairman of the OHSU Department of Neurology in 2000.

Bourdette is the Roy & Eulalia Swank Family Research Professor in the Department of Neurology, and he is co-director and associate director of research for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs MS Center of Excellence-West.

He is a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology and a member of the American Neurological Association. He has received numerous awards, honors and research grants, lectured to multiple professional organizations and been published in dozens of peer-reviewed research journals.

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