Comprehensive Neurology Division

Part of the Neurology Department at Massachusetts General Hospital, the General Neurology Program’s board-certified neurologists work with primary care physicians to diagnose and treat a wide variety of neurological conditions.


The presence of a comprehensive neurology division is a rarity in the hospital of today—particularly in a teaching hospital the caliber of Massachusetts General Hospital.

With most medical fields embracing super-specialization, more and more physicians have neglected the art of generalization. As a result, physicians across entire departments can fail to see the "big picture," of which their specialty only represents a small part.

Mass General's neurology department launched the General Neurology Program to combat this trend.

Specialists with a Generalist View

Our program consists of highly trained and motivated physicians with an unrelenting passion for neurology. Together, these professionals represent the full universe of specialties within the field. However, they do not lead isolated existences within our program.

Each week, the comprehensive neurology team meets to discuss patient cases from the most basic to the most complex. Analyzing a condition from these varied perspectives produces innovative, effective and personalized treatment solutions.

Our commitment to collaboration also creates a better experience for patients reporting general neurological symptoms, such as a pinched nerve or headache. In many hospitals, these patients might get shuffled back and forth among multiple specialists.

Our physicians, however, have the broad knowledge to distinguish between various conditions. As a result, they can quickly pinpoint the diagnosis, preventing unnecessary testing and inconvenience to the patient. If further neurological care is necessary, they make sure the patient gets to the proper specialist as soon as possible.

Drawing from the Next Generation

As one of the country's foremost teaching hospitals, Mass General attracts students from the world's top medical schools along with the best and brightest residents. These brilliant young men and women help us to enhance the quality of care in the Comprehensive Neurology Program.

Imagine a patient suffering from a complex, hard-to-diagnose neurological condition. In our program, the patient might receive the attention of students, residents and physicians. Each person involved has a particular specialty and looks at the case from a slightly different angle. This multilayered view is often the key to cracking the most complex neurological cases.

Unparalleled Resources

As part of the Mass General Department of Neurology, our program has access to state-of-the-art technology, from neuroimaging to nuclear medicine. Even more important, we have access to the dozens of outstanding physicians who make up this world-class department. These resources are one more reason we are able to deliver the finest in general neurological care.

The Comprehensive Neurology Program was established in 2001 in response to patient demand for greater access to general neurology clinical services.

In recent years, medicine has been moving in the direction of increased specialization. Having a program devoted to comprehensive neurology unifies the efforts of our entire neurology department and represents yet another breakthrough in Massachusetts General Hospital's storied history.

Our board-certified neurologists, each of whom has subspecialty training, advise and consult with primary care physicians in diagnosing and treating a full range of neurological problems, including:

  • Weakness
  • Headaches of unusual types
  • Numbness
  • Tremor
  • Memory loss
  • Seizures

When further neurological care is required, we can make referrals to the appropriate specialist within the neurology department. Such conditions include:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Migraine
  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Myasthenia
  • Myopathy

A Tradition of General Neurology

General neurologists have always had a strong presence at Mass General. Raymond Adams, MD—the former chair of the neurology department and one of the founders of modern neurology—emphasized the importance of the comprehensive neurologist. Dr. Adams underscored the neurologist's ability to treat a wide variety of neurological problems, and his example continues to serve as our inspiration.

The General Neurology Program is headed by Director Nagagopal Venna, MD, whose subspecialties are multiple sclerosis and neuro-ophthalmology. The rest of our team's subspecialties are listed below:

  • David Chen, MD (headache)
  • Tracey Cho, MD (neuroinfectious disease)
  • Daniel Costello, MD (epilepsy)
  • James Lehrich, MD (spine diseases, multiple sclerosis)
  • David Margolin, MD, PhD (multiple sclerosis, neuroimmunology)
  • Shawn Murphy, MD, PhD (bioinformatics)
  • Stephen Parker, MD (neurotology)
  • Marie Pasinski, MD (community neurology)
  • Nagagopal Venna, MD (neurorheumatology, neuroinfectious disease)
  • Shirley Wray, MD, PhD (visual neurology)

Clinical Research Studies and Trials

The physicians in our program conduct clinical research studies and trials across a number of subspecialties. Patients have the opportunity to participate in these studies and trials and to potentially benefit from new therapies. For more information, please call the Comprehensive Neurology Program coordinator at 617-726-5533.

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that occurs when nerve cells in the brain die, often resulting in symptoms such as impaired memory, thinking and behavior.

Epilepsy and Seizures

Epilepsy is a neurological condition involving the brain that makes people more susceptible to having seizures.


A headache is pain or discomfort in the head or face area.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. It is an unpredictable condition that can be relatively benign, disabling, or devastating.

Muscular Contraction and Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. Stress and muscle tension are often factors in tension type headaches.

Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a complex, autoimmune disorder in which antibodies destroy neuromuscular connections. This causes problems with the voluntary muscles of the body, especially the eyes, mouth, throat, and limbs.

Neurocutaneous Syndromes

Neurocutaneous syndrome is a broad term for a group of neurologic disorders that can cause tumors to grow inside the brain, spinal cord, organs, skin and skeletal bones.

Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease (PD or, simply, Parkinson's) is a slowly progressing, degenerative disease that is associated with symptoms such as tremor or trembling of the arms, jaw, legs and face, stiffness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk, bradykinesia (slowness of movement), postural instability or impaired balance and coordination.


Stroke, also called brain attack, occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted.

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Neurology Bicentennial Celebration, October 13, 2011. Past History of MGH Neurology; Overview of MGH Neurology; Telestroke and Acute Stroke Service; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Pediatric Neurology.

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General Neurology Program

Wang Ambulatory Care Center
General Neurology Program
15 Parkman Avenue, 7th Floor, Suite 720
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 617-726-5533

Public Transportation Access: yes
Disabled Access: yes

Mailing Address

General Neurology Program
Mailcode: WACC 7-720
Massachusetts General Hospital
55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114

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