Dr. Brian Callaghan Receives Endowed Career Development Professorship

Dr. Brian CallaghanDr. Brian Callaghan, a U-M neurology professor and ALS researcher, has been named the first Fovette E. Dush Early Career Professor by the University of Michigan Medical School’s Department of neurology.

Callaghan received the five-year appointment at a reception Dec. 7 hosted by Dr. James O. Woolliscroft, dean of the U-M medical school.

The professorship, intended to support the study of neurodegenerative muscular diseases, was established with funds donated by the late Ms. Dush, a Battle Creek native known for her investing acumen and lifelong generosity.

“This professorship will help me jump-start my career here, focusing on neuropathy,” said Callaghan. “We’ll be both looking for new treatments and for how we can do the best for patients with what we already have.”

Callaghan is associate director of the U-M ALS clinic, which treats patients suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. His ongoing ALS projects include an analysis of DNA changes that may explain why patients develop ALS and a stem cell project studying neurons and other cells derived from ALS patients. Other current research interests are focused on determining the optimal evaluation of peripheral neuropathy.

“Brian is one of our most promising researcher-physicians,” said Dr. Eva Feldman, director of the ALS clinic, director of the Taubman Institute and the Russell N. DeJong professor of neurology at U-M. “We are delighted that his work has been recognized and that he’s received the great honor of being selected as the first recipient of this professorship.”

Ms. Dush graduated from Battle Creek Central High School in 1937; she completed secretarial studies at Argubright Business College and then began a lifelong career as an administrative assistant at the Battle Creek Federal Center. According to family members, she was an active artist, gardener and volunteer as well as a stylish woman who drove only Cadillacs yet lived frugally in a modest family farmhouse until her early 80s, when she moved to assisted living.

Known as a careful investor who read every prospectus from cover to cover, Ms. Dush consulted U-M doctors about health problems in her older years and – impressed with what she heard and saw in Ann Arbor – made plans for a substantial bequest to the medical school. Ms. Dush died in 2010 shortly after her 90th birthday.