Dean Jay Sanford, the first Medical School Dean and President as an internist envisioned neurology as one of the subspecialties of medicine. In 1977, CAPT William L. Brannon, then Chief of the Department of Neurology at the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) argued for departmental status. He maintained that Neurology had unique concerns of its own, as well as essential relationships with Psychiatry and Medicine, which could not be sustained without Department status. This position was strongly supported by Dr. John Kurtzke, Chief of Neurology at the Washington VA Hospital, Dr. Desmond O'Dougherty, Chairman of the Neurology Department at Georgetown, and Dr. Warren Huber, the VA Neurology specialty advisor. Their arguments won the day.
In 1978, Dr Sanford appointed COL Darrel Buchanan, Chief, Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) as the Acting Chairman of the Department of Neurology at USUHS. CAPT Brannon was appointed as Acting Chairman following COL Buchanan's retirement six months later. A search committee was formed with Dr. James Leonard, Chairman of the Department of Medicine, as Chair. This committee selected CAPT Bernard Pleet as the first Chairman of Neurology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) in 1980.
Dr. Pleet hired Dr. Alan Faden, who with Dr. Giora Feurstein developed the Basic Science Division of the Department. In 1981, Neurology became a required clerkship following the efforts of Carl Gunderson, M.D., then Professor of Neurology, at USUHS and Chief of the Neurology Service at WRAMC. In 1982, Dr. Barbara Scherokman joined the department as the first civilian staff neurologist. Students in the clerkship were given an objective list that later became the model for the objective list adopted by the American Academy of Neurology and published by Dr. Scherokman.
In March 1983, COL Carl H. Gunderson became Acting Chairman and served in that capacity until he was appointed as Chairman in 1988. Dr. Gunderson expanded the curriculum and took an active role in teaching the medical students. Bench research flourished under the direction of CAPT John M. Hallenbeck, Dr. Feuerstein and Dr Anna-Leena Siren, with emphasis on ischemia and stroke. Research in Diving Medicine at the Naval Medical Research Laboratory was conducted under the direction of CAPT Andrew Dutka. In 1994, Dr. Ann M. Marini was hired as a replacement for Dr. Scherokman. She provided an added dimension in cell culture as well as strongly supporting the clinical program. In 1995, MAJ Ajay Verma joined the Department as a clinician and basic scientist. The following year Dr. Verma assumed the directorship of the Basic Science Division of the Department. Upon departure from the military service in July 1999, with support of the new chairman and approval of the Dean, Dr. Verma continued as civilian director of that division. LTC Geoffrey Ling, a neurologist-neurointensivist with a primary appointment in Department of Neurology, developed a major neuro-trauma research laboratory (brain & spinal cord) in the Department of Anesthesiology.
Clinical Research at the affiliated hospitals was ongoing since 1980 under the direction of COL Andres Salazar and COL Bahman Jabbari. Dr. Salazar took over the Defense and Veterans Head Injury Program (DVHIP) and developed it into a major research effort in the prevention and rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury. At the same time, Dr Jabbari developed the Department of Defense's Epilepsy Monitoring and Epilepsy Surgery Program at WRAMC (the latter with neurosurgeons LTC Richard Ellenbogen and MAJ Kaveh Khajavi) and in 1981 established the clinical neurophysiology fellowship for the Armed Forces. In 1996, this fellowship was awarded the American Academy of Neurology's Added Qualification in Clinical Neurophysiology and came under the sponsorship of the National Capital Consortium.
LTC Jerry Maitland, a Neuro-Ophthalmologist, came to the Department in 1983 to support the Neurology Training Programs at WRAMC and NNMC. He later inaugurated a Neuro-Ophthalmology Fellowship based at WRAMC. He was followed by COL Michael Rosenberg, another Neuro-Ophthalmologist who continued the fellowship program until he retired in 1994.
Dr. Deborah Warden assumed the directorship of the Clinical Research Division of the Department in 1996 and became PI to all Neurotrauma protocols at WRAMC. CAPT Jean Panagakos developed DOD's sleep laboratory at the National Naval Medical Center in 1991.
COL Gunderson stepped down as Chairman in September 1996 and served as Interim Chairman until the selection and appointment of COL Bahman Jabbari in March 1998.
During COL Jabbari's tenure the research funding of the Department was greatly expanded. He left behind a legacy of research in a wide range of both basic science and clinical arenas. Innovations were also made in the Clerkship including the development of Lesions on CD's and the institution of a 4-week Sub internship option. The Department assumed a major role in the administration of graduate medical education in the National Capitol Area.
COL Jabbari stepped down on 31 January 2004, to accept an appointment at Yale University. LTC Geoffrey Ling, Professor and Vice Chairman served as Interim Chairman until LTC (P) William W. Campbell was selected and appointed as Chairman on July 1, 2004 and held to position until 2011. COL Geoffrey Ling served as Interim Chair until 2012. COL Jamie Grimes MD, COL,MC,USA was selected and accepted the Chair of Neurology in 2012.