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Press Release

Butler Hospital's First Endowed Chair for Neurodegenerative Disorders
02/21/2014

Butler Hospital Announces Its First Dedicated Endowed Chair
The Aronson Chair for Neurodegenerative Disorders
Seeks to Advance Clinical Care and Research

Butler Hospital has announced the creation of its first endowed chair, The Aronson Chair for Neurodegenerative Disorders. The teaching hospital and academic research center is proud to not only honor the life and legacy of a notable researcher and clinician, but also invest in the future of understanding and treating neurodegenerative disorders.

Named for Stanley M. Aronson, MD, The Aronson Chair honors Dr. Aronson for a career and life dedicated to the research, diagnosis, and treatment of neurological disorders. An honorary member of the Butler Hospital medical staff since 1970 and a member of Butler's Board of Trustees and Foundation Board for more than 20 total years, Dr. Aronson always had an active role at Butler, as well as nearly all of the hospitals and medical organizations in Rhode Island. He has played a crucial role in some of the most important institutions in the state, including serving as the founding Dean of the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the creation of Home & Hospice Care of Rhode Island. Dr. Aronson is considered a pioneer in his field for his contributions to understanding and treating disorders, including eradicating Tay Sachs disease and being the first to identify Lewy Body Dementia. Dr. Aronson's legacy continues to live on in the contributions he made to science and medicine and through the multiple generations of physicians that Dr. Aronson has mentored, encouraged, and inspired over decades.

"It's so fitting that Butler, an institution with a strong focus and commitment to neurology and brain sciences, honor a national leader with a storied career in the neurology field with its first endowed chair," said Patricia Recupero, JD, MD, Butler Hospital's President and CEO. The Aronson Chair emphasizes the importance of the key services provided by Butler's Neurology Department's Movement Disorders Program and establishes an endowment fund that provides permanent financial support for the future of the Movement Disorders Program. The first recipient of The Aronson Chair is Joseph H. Friedman, MD, chief of the Movement Disorders Program at Butler, chief of the Division of Movement Disorders in the Department of Neurology at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and Adjunct Professor in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Friedman is a nationally recognized clinician, researcher, and educator in the treatment and study of Parkinson's disease and related movement disorders. He is an active member of the Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease study groups, and participates in multicenter trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, Michael J. Fox Foundation, pharmaceutical companies, and single-center unfunded studies. A fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, Dr. Friedman serves on the editorial board of Parkinsonism and Related Disorders and is Editor-in-Chief of the Rhode Island Medical Journal, taking over the position following the retirement of Dr. Aronson.

Even more impressive than Dr. Friedman's career in research and education is the way in which he delivers treatment to his patients. In his care of patients with Parkinson's and related disorders, he focuses on the brain and behavior, but also puts an equal emphasis on how the disease impacts his patients' quality of life. Diane Fasching, the spouse of a patient of Dr. Friedman's said, "We expected to receive the highest level of care and the most advanced treatment options. What completely surprised us – and I think was the key to Jim's care and my piece of mind – was how Dr. Friedman provided his care. Dr. Friedman connected with Jim as a fellow scientist. He spoke to him as the brilliant man that he was, not what the disease had made him."

Unlike many endowed chairs, The Aronson Chair has hundreds of contributors, rather than just one or two. A tremendous outpouring of support has come from Dr. Friedman's grateful patients, who believe in the work he does at Butler and have hope that more research will lead to better treatment options in the future. Many additional contributions came from individuals who appreciate and have benefited from Dr. Aronson's life's work. These individuals, along with Butler Hospital, are invested in creating a permanent means of honoring Dr. Aronson and his contributions and providing for clinicians in the future to make an impact to the field of neurology.

"Stanley Aronson has made such a contribution to our community, not only through his unwavering commitment to medical advancements, but also for his dedication to his students, colleagues, and patients alike. It is only fitting that we recognize him with an honor, an endowment, that will continue his vision of medical excellence into the future," said Arthur Robbins, chair of the committee for The Aronson Chair and a member of the Butler Hospital Foundation.

With the establishment of its first endowed chair, Butler is simultaneously honoring the past, recognizing the present, and providing for the future in one single initiative. To learn more about this important initiative and make a contribution to The Aronson Chair for Neurodegenerative Disorders, please call the Butler Hospital Foundation at (401) 455-6237 or visit the Aronson Chair Campaign webpage.

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