Stephen Strittmatter, MD, is a neurologist at Yale Medicine specializing in memory disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. (Dementias are complicated conditions that involve changes to the connections between neurons in the brain that can affect basic human cognitive functioning.)
His interest in the brain and degenerative brain disorders originated at Johns Hopkins, where he completed his MD and PhD training. He went on to do his medical internship and Neurology residency at Massachusetts General Hospital before arriving at Yale University in 1993. Currently, Dr. Strittmatter teaches as the Vincent Coates Professor of Neurology and conducts research in the Strittmatter Lab on repair and regeneration of neurons in patients with dementia.
“Dementia and remembering who we are is really at the core of this whole problem of how the brain works and our personalities,” he says. “This disease can be the scariest thing, in the sense that we lose the essence of who we are.”
In addition to teaching and research, Dr. Strittmatter sees patients at the Memory Disorders Clinic. He spends a significant amount of time with each patient to get to know their medical history and how their condition has affected their lives. He also works closely with patients’ families, who are often heavily involved in the patient’s care.
He makes sure to take the time to explain the condition to his patients and their family members: “I hope for a good medical outcome, number one,” he says,” but I also hope that they feel as though we understand what’s going on with them and that we’ve done our best to give them a diagnosis, a prognosis, and to find the right treatment.”
Dr. Strittmatter applies the knowledge he gathers from research to help patients. “A key part of what we do in the clinic is determine which brain chemistries are affected. We may try different therapies to alleviate symptoms, and in rare cases, the root causes that are treatable,” he says.