UMKC School of Medicine Fills Regional Health Care and Research Needs

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine has created a Department of Neurology and Cognitive Neuroscience and appointed its first Chair, Anne L. Foundas, M.D.

Foundas was professor and vice-chair of clinical research in the Department of Neurology at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. She also established and served as the first director of the Brain and Behavior Program at the Calhoun Campus of Children’s Hospital of Louisiana.

“Neurology is an underserved medical specialty in the Kansas City region,” said Betty Drees, dean of the UMKC School of Medicine. “Dr. Foundas will provide the leadership for the new department to start a new residency program in neurology to educate and train physicians.  This is the highest priority of our affiliated teaching hospitals for additional residency programs.”

All of the School of Medicine’s affiliated hospitals serving general medical and surgical adult patients have difficulty recruiting and retaining sufficient neurologists, as do most of the other hospitals in our region, Drees added.

“Current post-graduate training programs in the Midwest do not provide sufficient numbers of graduates to meet the demands for neurology services in our community,” Drees said. “The primary mission of the UMKC School of Medicine is educating and training physicians to meet the health care needs of the community.”

The new neurology residency program will include training at UMKC’s affiliated hospitals: Truman Medical Centers, Saint Luke’s Health System, Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics and Research Medical Center.

Neurologists are responsible for diagnosing, treating and managing conditions of the nervous system including stroke, dementia, headaches, chronic pain, epilepsy, neuromuscular disorders, movement disorders, sleep disorders and multiple sclerosis. Foundas will also lead the newly created Center for Neurology and Cognitive Neuroscience at Truman Medical Centers. Foundas is hiring a core team of clinicians, research scientists and administrators to build this clinical and academic center.

“The new Department of Neurology will create a stronger pipeline to recruit high-quality faculty physicians, residents, fellows and medical students,” said Mark Steele, M.D., chief medical officer at Truman Medical Center and the associate dean for Truman Medical Center Programs at UMKC.

The leadership of Foundas will help grow neurosciences research. Neuroscience is one of the major strategic research focus areas of the UMKC School of Medicine, which includes vision (the eyes contain nerve tissue), substance abuse, mental illness, stroke and brain injury — conditions that are prevalent in the metro area.  For example, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Kansas City.

Foundas graduated cum laude from Wellesley College and went on to graduate from the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans in 1986. She served residencies at the Shands Hospital and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Gainesville, Florida where she was appointed Chief Resident of Neurology. Foundas returned in 1992 to New Orleans as an assistant professor of Neurology at Tulane University School of Medicine. In 2008, she was appointed professor and vice-chair of Clinical Research in the Department of Neurology at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.

Her clinical practice focuses on patients with cognitive disorders.  Her research focuses on speech and language, learning and memory.

“My hope is that the new Department of Neurology and Cognitive Neuroscience at the UMKC School of Medicine will be a vibrant and highly productive enterprise that will support the educational mission, build quality clinical programs and expand neuroscience research,” Foundas said. “Our first priority is to provide state-of-the-art neurological care to our patients. Another main goal is to pursue collaborative relationships with the existing Neurology specialists at Saint Luke’s, Research Medical Center and at Children’s Mercy.”

Foundas begins the new position this month at UMKC.

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