Building a World-Class Center for Brain Health

James and Miriam Mulva, two of The University of Texas at Austin’s most generous supporters, saw an opportunity with the rise of Dell Medical School to improve the lives of people affected by brain diseases.

The Mulva Family Foundation’s $50 million gift launched the Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences, a brain health clinical enterprise that harnesses the university’s research expertise and embodies Dell Med’s commitment to delivering care centered on patient goals. The clinic, part of UT Health Austin, opened its doors in fall 2017 and provides care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, depression, bipolar disorder, multiple sclerosis, neck and back pain and treatment-resistant depression.

Three thought leaders are working together to advance the Mulvas’ vision. David Paydarfar, John Kuo and Stephen Strakowski — chairs of Dell Med’s departments of neurology, neurosurgery and psychiatry, respectively — comprise the clinic’s leadership team. “We have the rare opportunity to build something from scratch,” Kuo says. “We can learn from the many places around the country delivering excellent care, in order to innovate, develop and implement new models for Austin.”

Delivering Team-Based Care That Treats the Whole Patient

“This is more than a ‘come-in-and-see-your-doctor’ experience,” Paydarfar says. “Our interdisciplinary care teams create a cohesive plan to improve the lives of patients — and their families.” Each patient’s condition, values and goals inform the assembly of an appropriate care team, which may include a neurologist, a psychiatrist, a speech and language therapist, a social worker and a nutritionist, among others. The team then develops an individualized care plan and gets to work.

Integrating leaders and teams across disciplines — and across UT Austin — is critical to the model we’re working to build.

Stephen Strakowski, M.D.
Chair, Department of Psychiatry

Measuring What Matters

Across UT Health Austin, clinics measure health outcomes that matter to patients to determine the success of treatment. At the Mulva Clinic, that may mean helping patients age safely at home, miss fewer work days due to depressive episodes, or improve short-term memory.

Diagnosing Faster

It can take 18 months from the first complaint of symptoms of cognitive impairment to receive an accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, delaying interventions that could slow progression. The Mulva Clinic is hard at work building an approach that allows for an accurate diagnosis as rapidly and efficiently as possible.

Replicating What Works

Less than a year after its opening, the Mulva Clinic’s Bipolar Disorders Center team-based approach showed a dramatic improvement in patient health compared with traditional treatment models. Now, the clinic is working with Integral Care, the local mental health authority, to replicate this model and make it available to people across the community.

Leveraging a Research Powerhouse

The University of Texas at Austin is a Tier 1 research institution with brain experts across disciplines. Previously, these scientists had to collaborate with outside clinicians to test new solutions. Today, researchers share a campus with those providing care for the conditions they’re trying to treat or eradicate. The Mulva Clinic even has research teams on-site that share resources with clinical teams.

Shaping the Future of Brain Health

Building on the research and educational excellence of The University of Texas at Austin, the Mulva Clinic is continuing its work to build Austin’s brain health center — learning what works and what doesn’t, what matters to patients and the community, and what must come next. But the charge is clear: to become a world-renowned destination for brain health care, research and education that measurably improves the lives of patients and their families.