Dr. Ihtsham Ul Haq Is Awarded the Cornfeld-Hurowitz Endowed Chair of Movement Disorders

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Throughout their 64 years of marriage, Judith and Dr. Robert Cornfeld have been fiercely dedicated to philanthropy and have had a significant impact in South Florida, particularly in the areas of health care and the arts. Driven by an ongoing battle with the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease, the Cornfelds have endowed a new chair at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine to find a better understanding — if not a cure — for movement disorders.

(From left) Jeffrey Duerk, Ph.D.; Leslie Cornfeld; Jeffrey Cornfeld; Robert Cornfeld, D.M.D.; Susanne Hurowitz; and Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A.
(Front) Judy Cornfeld

The Cornfeld-Hurowitz Endowed Chair of Movement Disorders was presented to Ihtsham Ul Haq, M.D., professor and chief of the Movement Disorders Division of the Miller School’s Department of Neurology and a renowned expert in understanding and improving the care of patients with movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease.

"I want to thank the Cornfeld family for this incredible support, which will accelerate the University’s trajectory as a world leader in preventing and fighting movement disorders,” said Jeffrey Duerk, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost of UM. “We are immensely grateful to them and their generosity in establishing this gift, and extremely proud of Dr. Haq and his team.”

The endowed chair will provide Dr. Haq and his team with the resources to pursue novel research efforts in brain imaging and neurodegenerative diseases. He said that donor support, like that of the Cornfelds, is invaluable to his work.

Ihtsham Ul Haq, MD

“I am here primarily thanks to the support of others, like all of you,” said Dr. Haq. “I am, and have been, sustained by a network of love and affection. For this signal honor, but also for the gift of your trust, and for entrusting me with your family’s care. I cannot imagine what would be a greater gift than that.”

Personal Meaning to the Family

This donation is extremely personal for the Cornfeld family as 15 years ago Judy was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, the same disorder that Robert's father battled for the last decade of his life.

"Given how deeply this has affected our lives, you can imagine how excited we were to learn that we could help support the search for treatments, by endowing a chair in perpetuity that will ensure that research remains as robust as possible," said Robert Cornfeld, D.M.D., a retired orthodontist. "We hope that through this endowed chair, we might play a strong role in helping to eliminate Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders forever so that one day, they are a distant memory."

"Endowed chairs allow exemplary scholars, such as Dr. Haq, to continue their groundbreaking research in perpetuity, and allow them to discover new treatments and cures to fight movement disorders and other illnesses,” said Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A., dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School. “It is the highest academic honor that a university can bestow on a faculty member, and it is always a privilege to be able to take the time to honor our deserving faculty members.”

Growth in Division, Advances in Treatment

Since coming to the University of Miami in 2020, Dr. Haq has overseen rapid growth in his division, which now includes residents, movement disorder specialists, and advanced care practitioners practicing across six UHealth clinics in South Florida.

Robert Cornfeld, D.M.D., speaking at the endowed chair presentation.

Dr. Haq’s accomplishments were touted throughout the endowed chair presentation, which took place at the Lois Pope LIFE Center on September 27 and was attended by his wife, Sana, an assistant professor in the Department of Cinematic Arts at the School of Communication; his children, Firas and Amaana; his parents, Drs. Fakhra and Inam Haq; as well as friends, colleagues, and University dignitaries.

Dr. Haq has been performing deep brain stimulation surgeries since 2006 and is part of pioneering efforts to improve targeting, increase the types of devices available to patients, and expand the number of diseases the technique can treat.

Inaugural Chairholder

Before coming to the Miller School, Dr. Haq spent three years at the University of Florida’s Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration Program at the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases, where he completed his movement disorders fellowship training.

He was recruited to the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina, but then had a fortuitous meeting with Ralph L. Sacco, M.D., the longtime chair of the Miller School’s Department of Neurology.

“My heartfelt thanks to Dr. Sacco, who altered my life over the course of a lunch meeting in 2019, definitely for the better,” said Dr. Haq.

Dr. Haq was introduced by Tatjana Rundek, M.D., Ph.D., the executive vice chair in research and faculty affairs in the Department of Neurology, who led the search committee that championed Dr. Haq’s candidacy to join UM.

“Dr. Haq is a fantastic clinician, wonderful educator, terrific scientist,” said Rundek, who is the Evelyn F. McKnight Endowed Chair for Learning and Memory in Aging; scientific director, Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute; director, Clinical Translational Research Division; and director, Master of Science Program in Clinical Translational Investigation in the Department of Neurology. “He is very collaborative and continues to advance research in movement disorders in areas like deep brain stimulation.”

Family’s Philanthropy to the Miller School

In addition to the endowed chair, the Cornfeld family’s support has also led to the creation of the Robert M. and Judith K. Cornfeld Neuroimaging Research Program, and they made a substantial gift to build out space for the first research-centered MRI machine at the Miller School, to improve the way physician-researchers study the brain.

They established the Cornfeld Family Neuroscience Imaging Research Program Fellowship, which allows the school to train the next generation of bright young physicians and scientists in the field of neurology research.

“You have been part of our UM family from the beginning, and I am so thankful for your support,” said Dr. Sacco, who is also the Miller Professor of Neurology, Epidemiology and Human Genetics, and Olemberg Family Chair in Neurological Disorders at the Miller School. “Your steadfast commitment and innovative ideas have taken us to new levels, including imaging, and you have made a real difference.”

Dr. Cornfeld is also a founding member of the neurology department’s Advisory Council, and is now joined on the council by his daughter, Susanne Hurowitz.

Dr. Haq told the members of the Cornfeld family, which also included their children Leslie, Jeffrey, and Susanne, and their spouses, partners, and grandchildren, that their generosity will help impact the lives of patients for generations to come as, together, they strive to make movement disorders a thing of the past.

“The whole truth of our patients is they are with us as we are with them,” Dr. Haq said. “They are not a collection of symptoms but fellow travelers, reaching their hands out to us as we reach out to them, supporting each other through the storm.”