Historic photo of the old main hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Neurology History

The Neurology Department has been leading the field for more than 100 years, starting in 1888 when William Herdman was appointed professor of Practical Anatomy and Diseases of the Nervous System in the Department of Medicine of the University of Michigan. 

At the time of Dr. Herman's appointment, Michigan had been a state for 51 years, Ann Arbor had a population of about 8,000, and the University of Michigan had 1,600 students. Dr. Herdman's title was subsequently changed to professor of Nervous Diseases and Electrotherapeutics and later to professor of Diseases of the Mind and Nervous System and Electrotherapeutics. He had a private practice in Ann Arbor where he and his assistant offered electrotherapeutics - placing the patient in an electrostatic field or applying faradic (alternating current) or galvanic (electric pulse or "shock") stimulation to the body to patients with a variety of neurologic disorders, especially "neurasthenia."

Following Dr. Herdman, Albert Barrett, MD, was appointed professor of Psychiatry and Diseases of the Nervous System and director of the Psychopathic Hospital, and Carl D. Camp, MD, was appointed clinical professor of Diseases of the Nervous System. The teaching and patient care functions of Neurology and Psychiatry were separate, but the two emerging disciplines were administratively combined as the Department of Diseases of the Mind and Nervous System. In 1907, the number of patients examined in this department averaged about 200 a year.

The Department of Medicine became the School of Medicine in 1915. The 34 Medical School faculty were assisted by 22 demonstrators and assistants. Dr. Camp did formal teaching of medical students in class and on the wards eight hours a week but continued to have a private practice in Ann Arbor. In March 1920, the University Board of Regents dissolved the Department of Diseases of the Mind and Nervous System, appointing Dr. Barrett as professor of Psychiatry and Dr. Camp, professor of Neurology. This date marks the administrative creation of these two departments.

Russell N. DeJong joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1936 following his graduation from the U-M Medical School (1932) and four years of graduate clinical training. In recalling his internship, Dr. DeJong wrote, "I lived in the intern's quarters . . . My remuneration was room, board and laundry. For night call, we were awakened by an orderly with a flashlight. We had good meals . . . with tablecloths and table service. One of our waiters was Gerald Ford, then a student working for his board." In the President's Report for 1938-39, Dr. Camp wrote, "Research work has been carried on by all members of the Department, and six papers have been published."

In 1950 Dr. Camp retired at age 70, and Dr. DeJong was appointed to succeed him. In 1953, the Veterans Administration built an approximately 500-bed hospital within a mile of the University Hospital that was staffed by University of Michigan Medical faculty (including Neurology faculty), who administered patient care, trained U-M Medical students and house staff. In the late 1950s, the University of Michigan was awarded one of the first neurology training grants by the newly formed National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness.

Today, the University of Michigan Department of Neurology has more than 80 full-time faculty members, including 14 endowed professorships. Each year, on average, the department experiences more than 1,500 inpatient admissions, 4,500 inpatient consults and 50,000 outpatient visits. Clinical activities are complemented by vigorous basic, translational and clinical research programs designed to advance the field of neurology. A well-developed educational program includes instruction in the second and third year to all University of Michigan medical students, neurology residents and post-residency fellows engaged in subspecialty training.

Notable Neurology Alumni
  • Dr. Anne Young, former chief of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Professor at Harvard
  • Dr. Robert Macdonald, chair of Neurology at Vanderbilt
  • Dr. L. Cass Terry, former chair of Neurology at the Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Dr. Safwan Jaradeh, the former chair of the Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Dr. Ivo Drury, former chief of Neurology at Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit
  • Dr. Gretchen Tietjen, chair of Neurology, University of Toledo College of Medicine
  • Dr. David Fink, who was recruited back from the University of Pittsburgh to succeed Dr. Gilman as chair of Neurology in 2004
  • Dr. John Greenfield, chair of Neurology at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
  • Dr. Brett Kissela, chair of Neurology at University of Cincinnati