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The Stanford “Center of Excellence”

Stanford has recently been recognized by the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA) as a “Center of Excellence,” a designation reserved for medical clinics providing the highest standard of care to Huntington’s disease (HD) patients. Two neurologists, Drs. Veronica Santini and Sharon Sha, direct the Stanford Multidisciplinary HD and Ataxia clinic, which has received the designation. Dr. Santini specializes in Movement Disorders, while Dr. Sha specializes in Memory Disorders, and together they lead a team of diverse experts to treat the wide variety of symptoms associated with HD.

The HDSA “Center of Excellence” (COE) is a competitive designation requiring a lengthy application process. The title is reserved for clinics that meet the criteria for exceptional quality of care as recommended by the HDSA. In some circumstances, it also allows for additional funding of HD-related services. Although the clinic has provided extraordinary care for patients with HD for many years, they were only newly designated as a COE in January of 2015. For Dr. Santini, being a COE means providing the “gold” standard of care to her patients with Huntington’s disease. This means providing the total emotional, cognitive, psychosocial, and physical supports that each patient needs. Stanford is able to provide this holistic care through a multidisciplinary team approach with a large and dedicated team (listed below), made up of a genetic counselor, a clinical social worker, a neuropsychiatrist, and a nurse coordinator. The team also has speech, occupational, and physical therapists on call and with plans to move into the new neuroscience building on Stanford’s campus, these services will be available at each clinic visit. The clinic would not be able to offer these wonderful services to patients without the generosity of a local private donor. The new designation of Stanford as a COE reinforces the clinic as a beacon of treatment and information for patients and families throughout the Northern California area. The COE designation also makes the Stanford clinic a place for education of clinical trial participation for new therapeutics and research. Dr. Santini and Dr. Sha wish to begin offering clinical studies in shortly.

The large team at Stanford holds their HD and Ataxia clinic every Friday. The clinic is now located on the third floor of the Stanford hospital and clinics, but will be moving to the new neurosciences expansion that is currently under construction and is due to open in November of 2015. The HD and Ataxia clinic will be on the first floor providing better accessibility for HD patients and other patients with limited mobility and movement disorders. The open floor plan of the new clinic will better allow patients to see multiple specialists on the HD team per visit, further reinforcing the holistic care model, for which the clinic was already known.

A conversation with Dr. Santini revealed that the collaborative nature of team is what is most striking about the Stanford COE. Dr. Santini says that each member shows incredible initiative in their roles and everyone has their heart in it to take the best possible care of each patient.

For more information on the new Stanford “Center of Excellence”, visit their website by clicking here:


List of Team Members:

Veronica Santini, MD, MA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology

Sharon Sha, MD, MS, Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology

Vala Paladottir, MD, Movement Disorders Fellow

Victoria Tanoury, RN, CNRN, Clinical Nurse Coordinator

Carly Siskind, MS, LCGC, Genetic Counselor

Andrea Kwan, MS LGC, Genetic Counselor

Amee Jaiswal, MSW, Clinical Social Worker

Sepidedeh Bajestan, MD, PhD, Neuropsychiatrist

John Barry, MD, Neuropsychiatrist