PHILADELPHIA—Lawrence R. Wechsler, MD, a leader in the field of vascular neurology, has been named chair of the department of Neurology at Pennsylvania Hospital (PAH)—part of the larger department of Neurology for the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS), which is led by Frances E. Jensen, MD, chair of Neurology for the Health System.
Effective March 1, 2020, in his new role as chair of Neurology at PAH, Wechsler is responsible for overseeing the inpatient and outpatient neurological services at the nation’s first hospital. Wechsler will join senior medical leadership under the direction of Theresa Larivee, chief executive officer of PAH, and in partnership with Jensen. Furthermore, Wechsler will serve as director of telemedicine and network development for the Neurology department, growing the organization’s teleneurology programs.
“With patient care at our core, coupled with Dr. Wechsler’s innovative research in Neurology and telemedicine, we’re excited for what his leadership will bring to Pennsylvania Hospital, and what it will mean for the patients we serve,” Larivee said. “As we have recently expanded some of our other neurosciences-related services, having Lawrence of the helm of the Neurology team at Pennsylvania Hospital will allow us to continue expanding and augmenting the neurology care we provide.”
Previously, Wechsler served as the chair of the department of Neurology and a professor of Neurology and Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Prior to becoming chair, he founded the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Stroke Institute and served as its director for 15 years. In these roles he authored more than 180 peer-reviewed research publications, editorials, and reviews.
Wechsler has been involved in many pivotal stroke clinical trials over the past 30 years as an investigator, steering committee member, and Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) member or advisor. He was principal investigator for the Pittsburgh regional coordinating center of StrokeNet—the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Stroke Trials Network, which was created to streamline and accelerate the translation of experimental stroke therapies to clinical application.
Over the past 10 years, he developed and grew the UPMC Telestroke network and established a robust teleneurology team. Additionally, he served as vice president for Telemedicine at UPMC, overseeing the expansion of telemedicine throughout the healthcare system. In this role, he helped establish direct to consumer urgent care, retail telemedicine, teleconsult centers, and several inpatient telespecialty consult services, among other accomplishments. Wechsler’s current research interests focus on the use of telemedicine, cell therapy for stroke, and acute stroke clinical trials.
“We are thrilled to welcome Wechsler to our department. I am looking forward to continuing the development of our centers of excellence based at PAH, and we anticipate significant growth in the next decade under Wechsler’s leadership,” said Jensen. “I believe he will be a critical addition to our faculty, especially at a time when we are focused on connected health across Penn Medicine.”
Wechsler earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Harvard College and his medical degree from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He completed training in internal medicine at UPMC Presbyterian and residency in neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he also completed a fellowship in cerebrovascular disease.
Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $8.6 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top medical schools in the United States for more than 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $494 million awarded in the 2019 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center—which are recognized as one of the nation’s top “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report—Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Medicine Princeton Health; and Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.
Penn Medicine is powered by a talented and dedicated workforce of more than 43,900 people. The organization also has alliances with top community health systems across both Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, creating more options for patients no matter where they live.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2019, Penn Medicine provided more than $583 million to benefit our community.