Tell us about yourself?
I’m an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Neurology at UCLA where I specialize in neuromuscular diseases. Growing up, I was certain I’d be an astronomer. I was fascinated by the vastness of space and our place in the universe. My favorite childhood memories are of being at the Griffith Observatory at night. As I got older, I realized so much of what fascinated me about space is reflected in the brain, a network of atoms from which we create music and art. After completing my undergraduate degree in neuroscience and music history at UCLA, I moved to New Orleans to pursue my MD and PhD in Genetics at Louisiana State University. In my clinical years, I had the opportunity to spend time in the New Orleans Musicians Clinic with my mentor, Dr. John England. It was here that I realized how critical it was to translate scientific discovery into patient care. It matters not just to understand how someone’s neuropathy may affect their dexterity from a scientific standpoint—it matters how we express these discoveries to patients, and how we manage their care. Loss of dexterity could mean loss of livelihood or loss of feeling alive when you put your hands on a piano. In 2015, I returned to Los Angeles where I completed my internship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and then moved to San Diego for my Neurology Residency where I was also Chief Resident. Those years honed my love for teaching and academic medicine. In 2019, I came home to UCLA for my neuromuscular fellowship and I am thrilled to begin this next chapter in my career developing a new vision for clinical care in academic Neurology.
Why is CMT your passion?
I would argue that CMT patients are my passion – they are categorically unstoppable. It is incredibly inspiring to watch CMT patients lead the charge and advocate for themselves. To that end, with the rapid development of new therapies in other areas of nerve and muscle diseases, my hope is to be a part of that charge and movement towards better access to structured, streamlined care.
We understand you are building a state of the art multidisciplinary center at UCLA. What makes up a multidisciplinary clinic?
So often after the diagnosis is made, CMT patients are piecing together their care and information about expectations on their own. The dream is the development of a comprehensive program that would allow patients to have a multi-disciplinary experience when they come in for a visit. In this initial phase, as I aim to identify means by which to fund this kind of endeavor, the goal is to target and invest in the patient’s greatest needs first and grow from there. With UCLA’s breadth of resources, including allied health professionals and clinicians in other areas, I can act as a conduit and eventually, we can operate in parallel, as a one-stop-shop.
What will patients experience at their first visit, how long can they expect to be there and what technologies or services will you offer them?
Right now when patients come into the clinic, I do a comprehensive consultation with a neurologic exam to establish whether or not we have a meaningful explanation for their symptoms (a diagnosis) and offer access to an orthotist, referrals to physical therapy, and other programs in the region. This initial visit will last about an hour. The COVID19 pandemic has led to an acceleration of access to telehealth within our system. Should there be physical limitations in getting to Los Angeles, we have a multitude of ways in which we can connect with patients.
Do you see adults and pediatric patients?
Yes absolutely, all are welcome!
What do you love most about your new role as Director at UCLA?
Beginnings are exciting opportunities for growth and hope. My dialogue with The Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation has truly been one of my favorite parts of this endeavor!
How can patients make an appointment at UCLA Department of Neurology at UCLA?
UCLA Department of Neurology
300 Medical Plaza, Suite B200
Los Angeles, CA 90095
Dr. Halabi Anasheh
Office Telephone: 310-794-1195 (note: request to be scheduled with Dr. Halabi)