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Announcing the 2021 Ted M. Burns Humanism in Neurology Award Recipient: John Quinlan, MD

Ted Burns Award 2021 winner John Quinlan MD

Dr. John Quinlan, master educator at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, honored with Ted Burns Award

To maintain the idealism and compassion of neurology, humanism must come first even as practices evolve. Established in 2019, the Ted M. Burns Humanism in Neurology Award acknowledges the influence of the most benevolent and innovative neurologists in the field. It’s the only award of its kind in the field of neurology and aims to celebrate those members of the profession whose work embodies humanism in patient care, education, advocacy, and everyday encounters. By recognizing outstanding neurologists, this award seeks to inspire others to improve healthcare delivery and the lives of their colleagues and patients. This year, the American Brain Foundation is proud to honor a neurologist who truly exemplifies all this award represents: Dr. John Quinlan.

Over the past 33 years, Dr. Quinlan has been an exceptional neurologist, scholar, and educational leader within the neuromuscular field and more broadly at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Medical Center. As a professor in the Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine, director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association Clinic, and director of the EMG Laboratory at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Dr. Quinlan has made massive contributions to education, research, and patient lives.

Dr. Quinlan has served as a principal investigator on MDA grants focusing on cutting-edge research with the mdx mouse, a model for studying Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and a co-investigator on an ALS competitive contract. He has also collaborated with other researchers on cross-disciplinary projects, including muscle physiology research.

“Dr. Quinlan is a role model to his patients and indeed to us all,” says Dr. Brett Kissela, professor and chair of the Department of Neurology Rehabilitation Medicine at the UC College of Medicine.


Dr. Quinlan’s excellence is evidenced by his impact on students and peers. In the past 10 years, he has been presented with teaching awards including the Humanism in Medicine Award from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine for his excellence in clinical care, compassion, and dedication to service. Perhaps most impressively, he has twice been chosen by students to be the keynote speaker for their white coat ceremony.

“His charismatic and self-effacing style has made him a perennial favorite of students. His numerous recognitions point to his exceptional qualities, not only as a teacher, but also as a wonderful human being who inspires students, colleagues, and patients with his knowledge, integrity, down-to-earth style, and self-deprecating humor,” says Dr. Kisella.

Dr. Kissela and the University recognize him as an individual who has accomplished a tremendous amount in all domains of teaching, patient care, and research. And as someone with muscular dystrophy himself, Dr. Quinlan has especially great empathy and understanding of his patients’ situations.

“Teaching and learning with my students, colleagues, and patients; and advocating for those with greater needs than my own have been the most fulfilling aspects of my career,” says Dr. Quinlan on receiving the award. “It is a great honor to receive this award and a privilege to help lighten the load of our patients, their families, and our workmates.”

Listen to a full interview with Dr. Quinlan and Neurology podcast editor Dr. Stacey Clardy here. And don’t forget to register for our webinar, Humanism in Neurology, on July 27, 2021, to celebrate and honor Dr. John Quinlan and his incredible accomplishments.

The American Brain Foundation believes that, one day, we will be able to live life without brain disease—and it all starts with funding research to discover cures. Learn more about the research we fund here.