Leadership transition in SoM Department of Neurology

After two decades of leadership and internationally recognized research, Dr. Dennis Bourdette to step down as chair; Dr. Helmi Lutsep named interim

Dennis Bourdette, M.D., R ’82, FAAN, FANA, professor and chair of neurology, OHSU School of Medicine, will step down from his chair role Dec. 31, after nearly two decades of outstanding leadership. Dean Sharon Anderson named Helmi Lutsep, M.D., FAAN, FAHA, vice chair and professor of neurology, as interim chair, effective January 1, 2020.

Dr. Bourdette has led the Department of Neurology since 2000, when he was appointed interim chair; he became permanent chair in 2004. The Department of Neurology, with 54 full time faculty members, is a recognized leader in neurologic research and training programs and provides the most comprehensive care of neurologic illnesses in the Pacific Northwest.

“OHSU is internationally known for neuroscience and Dr. Bourdette’s leadership has been instrumental to the Department of Neurology’s growth and to path-breaking contributions in patient care, research and education. Dennis is not only exceedingly bright and accomplished, he is one of the most caring, compassionate and respected physicians I have ever met,” said Dean Anderson. “On behalf of the School of Medicine, I thank him for his many years of service.”

Dr. Bourdette: an enduring leader

Dr. Dennis Bourdette will step down as chair of neurology after two decades of leadership (OHSU/Fritz Liedtke).

Dr. Bourdette is an influential clinician-scientist who has made important discoveries, particularly in multiple sclerosis research. Last spring, Dr. Bourdette and OHSU colleagues published results about a compound that stimulates repair of the protective sheath – myelin – that covers nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Researchers hope to take the discovery to human clinical trials in a few years.

He is active in health policy research, as well. He co-authored a paper in February 2019 with Daniel Hartung, Pharm.D., M.P.H., associate professor in the OHSU/OSU College of Pharmacy, outlining the impact of Medicare rules on skyrocketing out-of-pocket costs for MS drugs. These, and other, contributions, have life-changing potential for the estimated 2.3 million people worldwide affected by MS.

Dr. Bourdette’s work with trainees and cultivating a neuroscience workforce are notable. He has mentored no fewer than 17 post-doctoral fellows who have gone on to become faculty at OHSU and at organizations nationwide. He has been a faculty member in the Neuroscience Graduate Program since 2006.

His numerous other leadership roles have included executive director of the OHSU Multiple Sclerosis Center, chief of neurology at the (then-named) Portland VA Medical Center, and co-director of the VA’s Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence West. He also served as chair of the OHSU Brain Institute Leadership Council, and has held the Dr. Roy and Eulalia Swank Family Research Professorship since 2000.

These activities have not gone unnoticed by colleagues and professional societies. In the last decade alone, Dr. Bourdette has received the John Hammerstad Neurology Resident Teaching Award (OHSU), a Distinguished Alumnus Award (University of California at Davis School of Medicine), was named the John Whitaker Memorial Lecturer (Department of VA MS Centers of Excellence), was honored at the Fourth Annual A Night in the Park Gala (Oregon Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society) and has been a guest lecturer for Neurology Grand Rounds/Annual Whitaker Memorial Lecture (University of Alabama, Birmingham).

Dr. Lutsep: an established presence to serve as interim leader

Dr. Helmi Lutsep will serve as interim chair of neurology, effective Jan. 1.

Dr. Lutsep joined OHSU in 1996, and has served as vice chair of the Department of Neurology since 2011. She holds the Dixon Term Professorship, and is chief of neurology at the VA Portland Health Care System.

Dr. Lutsep is a clinician-scientist who focuses on the use of devices, imaging and medical therapies in stroke treatment and has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles. She is editor-in-chief of the neurology textbook Emedicine from WebMD. She has served on multiple steering and advisory boards and chaired safety and publication committees for multi-center trials.

She completed her residency at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in 1992, followed by a behavioral neurology fellowship at the University of California Davis, and then a cerebrovascular disease fellowship at Stanford University from 1995 to 1996. She is board certified in neurology and vascular neurology from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

“Dennis leaves large shoes to fill and a compelling legacy,” Dean Anderson said. “I am thrilled to have a clinician-scientist of Dr. Lutsep’s caliber to step into the interim role – and equally pleased to add another woman to the school’s leadership team.”

Photo, top: OHSU/LE Baskow