The institute has seen vibrant growth under the vision and leadership of Michael Okun, M.D., and Kelly Foote, M.D., world experts in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, dystonia and other neurological disorders as well as the use of deep brain stimulation. What they started as UF’s Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration in 2002 has grown from two faculty members to over 100. It has transformed from a program without a home to a single floor of a building to now a freestanding institute, where patients with neurological diseases can see specialists of diverse disciplines all in one location: physicians who specialize in movement disorders, neurosurgeons, psychiatrists, psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech and swallowing specialists, nutritionists, social workers and genetic counselors.
In describing the institute’s mission, Okun, the institute’s executive director and chair of neurology at UF, said, “The patient is the sun, and the health care team should orbit around the patient’s needs. This has been our unwavering philosophy from the day we joined the faculty.”
Foote, the institute’s co-director and a professor of neurosurgery in the Lillian S. Wells Department of Neurosurgery at UF, said the multidisciplinary nature of the institute allows patients to see all their providers on the same visit and facilitates collaboration among care teams, who work together in person.
“This care model helps us provide the best possible treatments to our patients with the least amount of headache and hassle,” Foote said. “Not only that, but working together on multidisciplinary research studies helps us continue to refine and develop treatments toward our overarching goal: improving quality of life for our patients and changing lives. This new gift from the Fixel family helps us immeasurably toward achieving that goal.”
The Norman Fixel Institute is a cornerstone of UF’s aspiration to help create history’s healthiest generation through precision health, the elimination of health disparities and the advancement of therapies related to the brain and mental health.