“I watched NOVA, on PBS, and a show on Huntington's disease really fascinated me. I guess you could say I was inspired to go into medicine by that show.I want students to understand that treating patients is not just about medicine, but also about the human connection to the patient.”
Richard G. Lugar
“LEADING EDUCATOR IN NEUROLOGY AND MOVEMENT DISORDERS”
As a teenager, Joanne Wojcieszek loved watching NOVA, the PBS science program. One show in particular caught her attention: a program on the search for scientific and medical answers to Huntington's Disease (HD), a fatal hereditary condition that destroys areas of the brain involved in the emotions, intellect and movement. HD afflicts some 30,000 Americans and took the life of legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie.
"I was fascinated with the idea of studying the human brain and nervous system and by the complexity and genetic components of illness," said Wojcieszek. "I guess you could say I was inspired to go into medicine by that show on Huntington's disease."
Today, at Indiana University School of Medicine, where she is Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology, Director of the Movement Disorders Clinic and a senior member of the neurology staff at the Huntington Clinic, Wojcieszek is part of one of the nation's leading centers for the study of HD and similar movement disorders, recognized as a Center of Excellence by the Huntington's Disease Society of America.
She brings a passion for creating positive doctor-patient relationships to the field of neurology using an approach that combines science and medicine with active listening. Under-girding this is her firm belief in the dignity of patients and a conviction that medical students and doctors must listen to patients and build positive relationships with them to facilitate healing. Her focus is on teaching medical students and residents interested in HD, Parkinson's disease, Tourette Syndrome and other movement disorders to both counsel and comfort patients, especially those patients who have moved beyond hope of cure.
A member of the American Academy of Neurology, the Movement Disorder Society and The Consortium of Neurology Clerkship Directors. Wojcieszek was nominated by Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-IN) to be a Local Legend. She began her career as a neurologist and researcher at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, in 1989, and later won a fellowship in clinical therapeutics with application to the study of movement disorders at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
She came to the Indiana University School of Medicine in 1995 as Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology, and became a Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology in 2001. She has lectured and written extensively on various movement disorders, including a paper on Woody Guthrie and HD.
Wojcieszek received the Indiana University Trustee Teaching Award, School of Medicine in 2003 and the Teaching Excellence Recognition Award, Indiana University School of Medicine in 2000. The Class of 2004 further honored Wojcieszek by choosing her to be a "hooder," that member of the faculty who places the MD hood on freshly minted physicians. She deems it one of her finest achievements.
Appointed Instructor, Department of Neurology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY
Named Director, Movement Disorders Clinic, Indiana University School of Medicine
Appointed Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis
Medical College of Ohio, Toledo