Hello, I’m Dr. Valerie Cwik, MDA medical director and interim president. I’m new to this space in Quest, and I’d like to introduce myself.
As a neurologist and former MDA clinic director, I’ve specialized in neuromuscular diseases since 1989. I came to this specialty during my neurology residency at the University of Illinois in Chicago, thanks to a mentor who had a passion for treating adults and children with these diseases, and who got me hooked, too. My dedication only grew the further along I went in my career, as I cared for hundreds of individuals with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, ALS and all the other disorders under MDA’s umbrella.
In 2004, I left my position as co-director of the MDA Clinic at the University of Arizona in Tucson to become MDA medical director, and later, executive vice president of research. This January, I was privileged to be named MDA’s interim president, when President and CEO Gerald C. Weinberg decided to take a well-deserved retirement after more than 50 years of dedicated service to MDA.
Jerry’s decades of commitment were critical to MDA’s growth over the years. I’m grateful for all I learned from him, and for the lasting legacy he leaves, upon which the Association can build as we move forward in the fight against neuromuscular disease
These are exciting times at MDA. As medical director, I can tell you there’s a new and ever-growing population of people receiving care in our clinics: adults living with "pediatric" neuromuscular diseases that used to routinely end lives in childhood. The presence of this new generation is a clear sign of how far we’ve come in managing neuromuscular disease — and an incentive to try harder than ever.
Recently, I had the pleasure of addressing some 550 MDA health care professionals and staff at the 2012 MDA Clinical Conference. This gathering was another sign of just how far the MDA community has come.
Top neuromuscular disease experts spoke about recent advances in genetics, immunology and medical management, as well as the increasing number of discoveries being channeled into the "drug development pipeline." (Details of the conference proceedings can be found on quest.mda.org and coming up in the Summer issue of Quest.)
As someone who has spent my career caring for people with neuromuscular diseases, I’m very optimistic and encouraged by the results we’re seeing in the lab and in early clinical trials. The road may sometimes seem long, but the future is bright. As Jerry Weinberg used to say — and it remains true today — "Together we can make it happen!"
Valerie A. Cwik, M.D.
Interim President and Medical Director