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Hannah F. Pietsch

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Houston Methodist receives gift to name neurology department
Houston – (February 22, 2016) – Houston Methodist Hospital’s Department of Neurology is being named in honor of its longtime chairman, Stanley H. Appel, M.D.    Joan Appel, his wife, made a philanthropic commitment to Houston Methodist to name the Department of Neurology the Stanley H. Appel Department of Neurology to support research, education and patient care at the Houston Methodist Neurological Institute. The gift is in recognition of her husband’s impact on Houston Methodist and the field of neurology. The gift also creates the Stanley H. Appel, M.D. Chair in Translational Neurosciences.  
“For nearly 20 years, I’ve been by Stan’s side as he’s treated patients, conducted research and trained some of the leading neurologists in the nation,” Joan Appel said. “I couldn’t think of a better way to honor his work than by naming the Department of Neurology that he’s led for so many years and by making an impact on the exciting future of neurology.” 
During his career, Appel has treated thousands of patients facing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and neuromuscular diseases. The father of CBS Sports commentator Jim Nantz was treated by Appel for Alzheimer’s disease. Nantz and Appel developed a friendship that led Nantz to partner with Houston Methodist in 2011. To honor his father, Nantz created the Nantz National Alzheimer Center, a center dedicated to cutting-edge research and comprehensive care of Alzheimer's patients and their families.  
“With a career spanning five decades, Dr. Appel is one of the most respected neurologists in the nation,” said Marc L. Boom, M.D., president and CEO of Houston Methodist. “His work in research and clinical care has made a significant impact on the lives of his patients and contributed to Houston Methodist’s success in Leading Medicine, and we are honored to name the Department of Neurology after him.” 
Appel’s research focuses on ALS, a nervous system disorder in which nerve cells that control muscle movement begin to die, leading to weakness, speech and swallowing difficulties, and impaired breathing. He and his team have pioneered studies in understanding how the immune system reacts in ALS patients and are currently conducting a trial that removes a patient’s regulatory T lymphocyte cells, increases the number of these disease-fighting cells in a laboratory, and then transplants them back into the same patient, with the ultimate goal of slowing disease progression.
Over the years, Appel has been heavily involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, leading its Medical Advisory Committee and taking part in the Labor Day telethons. He also participated in the ALS Association’s national Ice Bucket Challenge that raised millions of dollars for research. 
 “To have the work of one’s life commemorated in such a way is an honor,” Appel said. “I’ve spent my life helping patients with devastating neurological diseases. Tremendous progress has already been made, and further progress is on the way. The next 10 years are going to bring even more meaningful advances to enhance our patients’ quality of life. I’m excited about the future and look forward to working with our physician and research colleagues to develop the novel therapeutic approaches that will transform the lives of our incredible patients.” 
Appel served as chairman of the Department of Neurology at Baylor College of Medicine and chief of the neurology service at Houston Methodist from 1977 to 2005. Since that time, he has served as the chairman of the Department of Neurology at Houston Methodist and is the director of the Houston Methodist Neurological Institute. The department was ranked No. 16 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in 2015. He holds the Peggy and Gary Edwards Distinguished Endowed Chair for the Treatment and Research of ALS at Houston Methodist Hospital and is a professor of neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine. 
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