Marwan Sabbagh, MD, Takes the Reins at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health

Distinguished clinician-researcher brings over 27 years of Alzheimer’s expertise

Marwan N. Sabbagh, MD, joined Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health at the beginning of May as the center’s new director and the Camille and Larry Ruvo Chair for Brain Health. A leading Alzheimer’s disease investigator, Dr. Sabbagh brings more than 27 years of experience in the field, having most recently served as Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Division at Barrow Neurological Institute at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.

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Dr. Sabbagh succeeds Jeffrey Cummings, MD, ScD, who served as Director of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health since 2010 and now serves as Director Emeritus in a new advisory role. Dr. Cummings continues as Director, Center for Neurodegeneration and Translational Neuroscience, and as Professor, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.

“In just eight years, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health has become one of the largest and leading clinical trial sites in the country, while delivering unparalleled patient care,” says Andre Machado, MD, PhD, Chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Neurological Institute. “Finding a successor to Dr. Cummings was a monumental task, and I am encouraged by Dr. Sabbagh’s enthusiasm, expertise and desire to continue the standard of excellence Cleveland Clinic is known for. I am confident that under Dr. Sabbagh’s leadership, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health will continue to lead the path to discovery in the research and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.”

‘A dream come true’

Dr. Sabbagh received his residency training in neurology at Baylor College of Medicine and completed fellowship training in geriatric neurology and dementia under renowned Alzheimer’s disease experts Leon Thal, MD, and Robert Katzman, MD, at the University of California, San Diego.

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In alignment with the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health’s devotion to advancing clinical research, Dr. Sabbagh is an eminent clinician, researcher and author, having written more than 300 medical and scientific articles on Alzheimer’s disease as well as four books.

“Joining Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is a dream come true for me and an opportunity to make a profound impact on the lives of patients and their caregivers through driving conversation about these diseases and propelling critical research,” says Dr. Sabbagh. “Few institutions rival the scope of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health’s clinical trial program, and I truly believe that in this exceptional environment I can accomplish in one year what would have taken me 10 years at another facility.”

Renewed commitment to innovative trials

As an emerging leader in research with a special interest in proactive brain health, Dr. Sabbagh says he was drawn to the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health by the capacity of its clinical trials program, particularly its resources, reach and scale. The center has developed an international reputation for conducting some of the most innovative clinical trials in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, exploring everything from new drugs to novel biomarkers to emerging technologies. As director, Dr. Sabbagh will work closely with Dr. Cummings and the center’s staff to improve the lives of patients affected by brain diseases and their caregivers and to pursue translational research aimed at identifying new treatment options.

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“In my time at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, the way we think about Alzheimer’s disease has shifted from a focus on treatment to a focus on prevention,” observes Dr. Cummings. “I believe this shift requires a new perspective, which is why I am delighted to hand the reins to Dr. Sabbagh. He brings an exceptional pursuit of innovation in both patient care and clinical research, and I look forward to seeing the tremendous strides the center will make under his leadership.”

Photo: Dr. Sabbagh in front of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health building in Las Vegas, Nevada. Taken by Jérôme Brunet Photography.