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Hae Won Shin, MD, Named Chair of Neurology and Semmes-Murphey Professor

Hae Won Shin, MD, chair of the Department of Neurology, aims to build up the department’s educational, clinical care, and outreach programs, and expand its research portfolio.

Hae Won Shin, MD, has been named chair of the Department of Neurology and Semmes-Murphey Professor of Excellence at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Medicine.

Dr. Shin recently joined UT Health Science Center from the University of New Mexico Health Science Center’s School of Medicine, where she served in the Department of Neurology as executive vice chair, vice chair of Clinical Affairs and Epilepsy Section chief. As vice chair, she led clinical operations and played a crucial role in advancing patient care. Before serving at the University of New Mexico, she worked as a medical director of epilepsy at the University of North Carolina.

For more than 10 years, Dr. Shin has provided comprehensive and advanced epilepsy care to patients with refractory epilepsy, using new epilepsy surgery and neuromodulation therapies in North Carolina and New Mexico. Dr. Shin also developed ACGME-accredited epilepsy fellowships, providing fellowship training specifically for epilepsy, at both institutions. Her clinical care and research focus is on enhancing epilepsy care and surgery outcomes.

Dr. Shin said her interest in joining UT Health Science Center grew when she met with faculty and leaders of the university on campus and witnessed their dedication of training the next generation of neurologists.

“We are all here together to provide the best care to patients in Memphis and throughout Tennessee. Everybody I have met in the College of Medicine, in health care systems in Memphis, as well as the faculty, share the same vision. I am very excited about my opportunity and to contribute to building up the program.”

Dr. Hae Won Shin

“We are very excited to have Dr. Hae Won Shin as the new chair of our Department of Neurology at the UT Health Science Center’s College of Medicine,” said G. Nicholas Verne, MD, interim executive dean of the College of Medicine. “Dr. Shin’s arrival brings a wealth of expertise and leadership that will undoubtedly propel our Neurology Department to new heights, benefiting both patients and the academic community.”

Dr. Shin, from South Korea, earned her Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul in 2000, and a Bachelor of Science in premedicine from Pennsylvania State University in 2001. She earned her medical degree from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina in 2006. She completed a neurology residency at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in 2010 and a fellowship in clinical neurophysiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, in 2011.

While studying for her bachelor’s in chemistry in South Korea, she came to the U.S. to learn English and discover her chosen career and gained inspiration after witnessing the health care in this country.

“I saw great medical advancements. I was staying with a host family. She was elderly and had some health issues. I saw what she was going through, and I was touched and motivated by how compassionate the doctors are in this country. When I was young, I also had health conditions myself, so I thought maybe this is the calling,” Dr. Shin said.

During her fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, her interest in epilepsy increased when she learned of the various treatment options that can be offered.

“I found epilepsy to be very interesting intellectually and motivating to me because of a unique diagnostic technique to examine the function of brain in a real-time diagnosis with electroencephalogram (EEG) and the availability of various epilepsy treatment options, such as over 30 different medications, surgical, and device treatment options. I did not like the aspect (of medicine) that I could diagnose a very rare disease, but there’s nothing I can offer afterward. But epilepsy is different in that I can actually offer different types of treatment options,” Dr. Shin said. “I went to that fellowship program, and I was touched by epilepsy surgery and how they can really change the patient’s life from being that of a very disabled and dependent lifestyle, because there are many restrictions due to having seizures, to being cured by the surgery so they can live their normal life and reach their full potential.”

Dr. Shin said she aims to build up the education, clinical care, and outreach programs in the department and extend its basic and clinical research portfolio.

“In clinical care we have world-renowned stroke care and the neurocritical care program. Also, we have an epilepsy and neuromuscular program, but we have been lacking in some other outpatient-based programs, such as multiple sclerosis and movement disorder. We need to have a more comprehensive program,” she said. “We have strong basic science research especially in genetics. Our research scientists have been very successful to secure NIH funded grants and other research activities, but I want to expand our research portfolio to bring on more translational research and neuromodulation research in addition to other clinical trials.”

She also has a focus on wellness, collaboration, and diversity in the department. “What I really emphasize and is one of my core values is the wellness of our faculty, students, and staff. Their well-being is very important to me as well as the sustainability and mentorship of the program,” she said. “And I value equity, diversity, and inclusivity, and that’s why I want to have more shared governance where everybody contributes to the department. That’s what I highly value and want to foster in the department.”

The Department of Neurology at the UT Health Science Center is committed to providing outstanding medical care for patients with neurological diseases, comprehensive training of future neurologists and neuroscientists, and making new discoveries through basic and clinical research of neurological diseases.