Joseph J. Higgins, M.D., has joined Athena Diagnostics as Medical Director for Neurology. Immediately prior to his arrival at Athena, Dr. Higgins was Professor in the Division of Pediatric Neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College. He is board certified in both pediatrics and neurology. He has had a rich and varied career in academic medicine and research, including five years as Senior Investigator and Chief of the Neurogenetics Unit at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). During his tenure there he organized, planned, and managed a multidisciplinary clinical neurogenetics program and molecular genetics laboratory studying movement disorders. This work led to the identification of genetic loci for essential tremor, familial Parkinson’s disease and a novel type of spinocerebellar ataxia.
“Beginning before the dawn of the Human Genome Project, my career has witnessed the full cycle of genomics from ‘bench’ to ‘bedside,’” Dr. Higgins says. “At the National Institutes of Health in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I remember being astounded by the complex elegance of the human DNA code and its application to disease gene discovery. Individuals such as James Watson, Craig Venter, and Francis Collins roamed the halls at NIH. They were a source of inspiration and directed my career to the field of ‘gene hunting.’“
“It is with great excitement and expectations that I arrive at Athena at this crucial time, when genetic technologies offerpatients more accurate and earlier diagnoses, and invigoration of clinical trials of new and existing therapies. The position with Athena is a natural step in this process to assist the medical community to understand the clinical utility of neurodiagnostic testing, and to focus on the implementation of new research strategies to develop these tests. These tests combined with Athena’s portfolio of endocrinological, renal, and sensorineural hearing loss tests provide comprehensive genetic insights for individual patients, and together help pave the way for emerging treatments.”