Prestigious designation awarded by The Huntington’s Disease Society of America
The UC Davis Huntington’s Disease Clinic was recently approved as a Level 1 Center of Excellence by the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA), marking the 20th consecutive year that the clinic has been awarded this prestigious designation.
The clinic, founded in 1997, is one of the largest in the country. Led by Vicki Wheelock, Alexandra Duffy and Ashok Dayananthan from the Department of Neurology and Lorin Scher from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, the clinic provides state-of-the-art care for patients with Huntington’s disease, offers expert education and outreach and advances research on Huntington’s disease. This genetically inherited, degenerative disease causes neurons in the brain to die, which then causes changes in a person’s movement, thinking and mood.
The HDSA is a non-profit organization that’s dedicated to improving the lives of everyone affected by Huntington’s disease, including individuals with the disease and their families, through community service, education, advocacy and research.
“I’m very proud that our clinic is recognized as a Level 1 Center of Excellence by the HDSA,” said Vicki Wheelock, founding director of the UC Davis Huntington’s Disease Clinic. “This designation means that our program meets their criteria for excellence in multidisciplinary neurological care, outreach and research participation for people with Huntington’s disease. The Level 1 designation also recognizes our partnership with the HDSA Center of Excellence at Northern California Kaiser Permanente, which fosters collaboration and increases patient access to multidisciplinary care.”
The Center of Excellence designation is a competitive and prestigious peer-reviewed grant that recognizes excellence in care across the lifespan for people affected by Huntington’s disease. This year the grant award totals $71,811. The UC Davis Huntington’s Disease Clinic first received this grant in 2001 as one of 20 Centers of Excellence across the country, and the only one in Northern California. Over the years the program has expanded to include 54 Centers of Excellence nationwide.
Since its inception, the UC Davis Huntington’s Disease Clinic has seen more than 700 new patients, enrolled hundreds in Huntington’s disease observational studies and clinical trials and developed regional, national and international collaborations for Huntington’s disease care and research. Wheelock formed a translational research collaboration with Jan Nolta, Director of the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures, and Kyle Fink from the Department of Neurology.
“The 20th year is very poignant for me, and I feel enormous pride in our program and the impact we’ve been able to make for regional families,” Wheelock said. “Our interdisciplinary team includes dedicated clinicians who go above and beyond to help patients and families affected by Huntington’s disease. After two decades our team is helping the next generation of patients, and I’ve seen fear and stigma from Huntington’s disease replaced by advocacy, empowerment and hope.”
— Vicki Wheelock
Wheelock said she is optimistic about future therapies for Huntington’s disease, and the role the UC Davis Huntington’s Disease Clinic will play.
“I’m looking forward to the time the first disease-modifying therapy for Huntington’s disease is approved,” Wheelock said. “When that arrives, everyone at risk for the disease will seek testing so they can start treatment before they develop symptoms. We will transform Huntington’s disease from a progressive fatal disease to a treatable condition. Our clinic will continue to be at the forefront of this effort.”