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Columbia University Medical Center | Department of Neurology
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One of America's Top Doctors:

Elan D. Louis, MD, MS
Professor of Neurology and Epidemiolgy
Associate Chairman for Academic Affairs and Faculty Development (also Epidemiology and the Sergievsky Center)
Department of Neurology (Sergievsky Center)


  • BA: University of Pennsylvania
  • MD: Yale University
  • MS: (Epid.) Columbia University School of Public Health
  • Fellowship: Neurological Institute, Columbia University
Board Certification:
American Board of Neurology and Psychiatry (Neurology)

Telephone (for appointments): 212-305-1303
Office Phone: 212-305-3665

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Elan D. Louis, M.D, M.S. (Epidemiology) is a tenured Professor of Neurology in the G.H. Sergievsky Center at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University. Dr. Louis cares for patients with a variety of involuntary movements, including essential tremor (ET), Parkinson's disease, dystonia, tics, and Huntington's disease. Dr. Louis principal academic interest is in degenerative diseases of the central nervous system (especially disorders of involuntary movement) including their epidemiology, distribution within populations, genetic basis, etiology, and pathogenesis. He has a particular interest in ET, and his research efforts have been focused on the familial aggregation of ET, the environmental epidemiology of ET, the role of lead, beta-carboline alkaloids and other neurotoxins in ET, and the pathological basis of ET. He currently collaborates with investigators in Spain, Turkey, and Mexico examining the epidemiology of ET in these populations. He has received continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 1995 for his research on ET and has also received funding from the International Essential Tremor Foundation, the Charles A. Dana Foundation, and a Paul Beeson Physician Faculty Scholars Award from the American Federation for Aging Research. He currently leads the Essential Tremor Centralized Brain Repository at Columbia University, which is a centralized brain bank for the study of ET. He has established a large DNA bank for patients with ET as well.

In 2001, Dr. Louis published the results of the first familial aggregation study of ET, reporting that first-degree relatives of ET cases were approximately five times more likely than relatives of control subjects to have ET, estimating the relative risk to be 4.7. Through his work on the environmental epidemiology of ET, in 2002 Dr. Louis established that specific environmental toxins, including beta-carboline alkaloids and lead, are associated with ET. His finding of a metabolic defect in the cerebellum in ET patients lead to a pathological study of ET. In that study, Dr. Louis' team has now reported for the first time an identifiable pathology in ET. ET patients can be divided into two groups: those with a restricted pattern of Lewy body involvement in the locus ceruleus and those with cerebellar pathology.

Dr. Louis received his training from the University of Pennsylvania (B.A. 1984), Yale Medical School (M.D. 1989), Columbia University School of Public Health (M.S. in Epidemiology 1995), the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (Eukaryotic Molecular Genetics Section 1984-85), and the New York Neurological Institute at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center (Neurology Residency 1990-93, Movement Disorder Fellowship 1993-95, and Neuroepidemiology Fellowship, 1993-95). He serves on the scientific advisory board for the International Tremor Foundation and the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation. He is the author of over one hundred and sixty peer-reviewed publications and has been invited to write editorials and reviews for Annals of Neurology, Movement Disorders, Archives of Neurology, New England Journal of Medicine and Lancet Neurology. He has been a member of the Clinical Neuroscience and Disease Study Section at NIH since 2003.

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Department of Neurology | Columbia University Medical Center | Last updated: December 4, 2012 | Comments
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