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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Doctors and researchers unite at UF’s new neurological institute

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UF’s new neurological center now brings medical doctors and clinical researchers together like never before.

The Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases, which opened July 1, brings medical professionals and researchers of different neurological focuses under the same roof to treat patients for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Lisa Warren, Fixel’s rehab site manager, said Fixel is nothing like the other academic health institutions she’s worked at during her 31 years as an occupational therapist. She said Fixel is the perfect one-stop shop for patients who would otherwise typically go to one doctor, only to be told they need to seek a different one.

“Fixel offers it all under one roof,” said Warren, who will be supervising the institute’s physical, sight, speech and occupational therapy programs. “It all works out in the patient’s favor.”

Warren said the Center for Movement Disorders & Neurorestoration, which she was hired for in 2010, served as the foundation for the Fixel Institute.

Dr. Adolfo Ramirez-Zamora, a movement disorder neurologist and Fixel’s director of clinical trials, said the Fixel Institute has been in the works for six months. Before it had a name, it was a collection of different doctors on the fourth floor of UF’s orthopedic building, expanding over time to include a wide variety of specializations.

When UF Health received a $20 million gift from the Lauren and Lee Fixel Family Foundation in January, UF matched the donation, kickstarting the formation of the institute located at 3009 SW Williston Rd, according to a UF Health news release.  

Ramirez-Zamora said the institute has floors for different neurological specializations and rooms dedicated to research and testing. The Fixel design bridges the gap between doctors and clinical researchers in hopes of improving patient treatments.

Neuropathologist Dr. Stefan Prokop will lead Fixel’s Brain Bank, overseeing the collection of donated brains and analyzing the research samples. Prokop and others doing research at Fixel will study the brain and the effects of neurological diseases, providing more information that can be used to develop treatments.

“You can only see what’s going on in the brain after death,” Prokop said. “Our feedback betters the diagnoses and treatment that the doctors give.”


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