Vitek, an internationally renowned neurologist who specializes in the surgical treatment of movement disorders, comes to the University from the Cleveland Clinic, where he directs its Neuromodulation Research Center. Cleveland Clinic recruited him from Emory University in 2004 to expand and improve its program in deep brain stimulation (DBS).
At Emory, Vitek was the site principal investigator of the clinical trial that led to the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of DBS surgery for Parkinson’s disease. He is also the principal investigator of one of only two clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health comparing the effect of DBS in two specific areas of the brain, the subthalamic nucleus and the internal segment of the globus pallidus, for the treatment of advanced Parkinson’s disease.
Vitek’s work has focused on a “bench to bedside” approach to care—turning basic science discoveries into meaningful new treatments for people who have movement and other neurological disorders. He runs a large, interdisciplinary basic and clinical research program at the Cleveland Clinic and will be developing a similar program at the University of Minnesota. His basic research is directed at understanding the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease and dystonia as well as the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effect of DBS. His clinical work is focused on the medical and surgical care of patients with Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, and tremor and the application of DBS to treat these disorders.
Vitek’s move to Minnesota also offers him a homecoming. He grew up on the Iron Range and completed his undergraduate, medical, and doctorate work at the University.
“We always wanted to come back to Minnesota,” Vitek says of himself and his wife. “More importantly, I’m very excited about the job.”