Xavier Magazine

Profile: Joseph P. Broderick, M.D.


Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude with distinction, 1978 | Staff attending physician;professor of neurology; chair, Department of Neurology; member, The Neuroscience Institute, University of Cincinnati

Service to Others | While his father, Xavier alumnus Joseph Broderick, M.D., encouraged his seven children to do “whatever makes you happy,” it was their mother, Marilyn, who encouraged the Catholic-educated Broderick clan to pursue careers in health care or the priesthood as an ideal way of service to others. Joseph, the eldest, took the advice to heart, and four of his siblings followed him into the field of medicine.

Choices | Broderick considered studying psychology because he was fascinated with how the brain works. “But you never get to touch the patient and that was not for me. I wanted to be hands-on and take care of the whole patient.” After graduating first in his class from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 1982, he considered being an internist, like his father. During rotations with neurologists at UC and the Mayo Clinic, however, he realized neurology was his field.

Brain Teaser | “The brain is so complex and interesting and I looked upon that as a much greater challenge. Plus, there was more happening with the brain than with other areas,” he says. Neurology in the mid-1980s was mostly about diagnosing problems. There was little available to heal the patient. But in the last 25 years, the field of brain therapy “has just been revolutionized.”

Brainstorm | Since joining the University of Cincinnati medical school as an assistant professor, Broderick has accumulated a dizzying array of neurological research, published work, appointments and awards from such prestigious organizations as the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health. He works 60-65 hours a week and still has time for family, even helping coach his son’s seventh grade basketball team.

Stroke | Much of his research focuses on stroke, the most common neurological disorder. He also oversees research by other faculty into other neurological disorders including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Though he enjoys seeing patients, less than 20 percent of his time is spent with patients because of his research and administrative duties.

No-Brainer | Broderick was part of a research team that showed the clot-busting drug, Tissue Plasminogen Activator, or t-PA, if administered within three hours of symptoms, restores a person’s brain functions to nearly normal levels in about a third of all patients. Now the job is to educate people to hurry to the hospital.

Rewarding | “One of the coolest things in medicine is seeing someone who can’t talk or move, but within an hour of treatment they can talk and shake your hand.”

Brain Gain | The Neuroscience Institute, which he helped found in 1998, has recruited nearly 50 neurosurgeons, neurologists, psychiatrists and laboratory scientists to positions at the medical school. All are involved in research studies of the spine and brain, including testing a promising new treatment for brain hemorrhages.

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