Movement Disorders Fellowship

Welcome to the Yale Movement Disorders Fellowship website. Yale has had a longstanding Movement Disorders Fellowship, fostering the development of superb clinical and academic skills. The program is quite flexible and can be tailored to individual needs, although the core features of this two-year program are clinical and scholarly training. In their letter of intent, applicants are requested to specify their clinical and scholarly interests. Please click the tabs on the top, where we describe the clinical core, the research core, unique features of the program, and the application process.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact us directly through email (yalemovementfellowship@yale.edu) or telephone (203-785-6599).

Elan Louis, MD
Chief, Movement Disorders Division

Sara Schaefer, MD
Fellowship Director

The clinical core is at the heart of the program. Fellows devote approximately 50% of their time (i.e., five half-days per week) in both years to outpatient clinics. This unique schedule allows for continuity of care of patients across both years of fellowship, as well as greater longitudinal time for scholarly work. More or less clinical time may be negotiated depending on the scholarly and clinical interests of a given fellow, at the discretion of the program leadership.

Our faculty have a broad range of clinical interests, including essential tremor (Dr. Louis), Huntington’s disease (Dr. Schaefer), focal dystonia (Dr. Kim), deep brain stimulation (Dr. Patel), and restless legs syndrome (Dr. Koo). In our clinics, the trainees: (1) learn to recognize the range of involuntary movements, developing their skills of observation and pattern recognition, (2) become facile in the development of appropriate differential diagnoses, (3) develop their skills as expert diagnosticians, (4) learn about the range of available treatments for movement disorders, (5) learn how to follow their patients over time, providing long-term and adaptable treatment plans, (6) develop a clear sense of the evolution of symptoms and signs over time, and (7) hone specialty skills such as deep brain stimulation programming and botulinum toxin injections.

In addition to these activities in the outpatient setting, fellows also work with the faculty in the inpatient setting, evaluating hospitalized patients who require movement disorders expertise. Interested fellows may also rotate through a number of unique but important clinical settings, including clinics in pediatric movement disorders (with Dr. Bamford and at the Yale Child Study Center), autonomic disorders (with Dr. Peixoto), neuro ophthalmology (with Dr. Fisayo), restless legs syndrome (with Dr. Koo), Wilson’s disease (with Dr. Schilsky), and neurogenetics (with Dr. Szekely). We work closely with a functional neurosurgeon and neurophysiologist Dr. Jason Gerrard to provide deep brain stimulation and gamma knife radiation for our patients. Fellows are encouraged to observe and participate in the OR.

The Yale Comprehensive Tremor Center and the Restless Legs Center for Excellence offer fellows the opportunity to learn how to care for patients in a multi-disciplinary setting.

The movement disorders clinics at the Veterans Administration Hospital in West Haven (with Dr. Richardson) provide important opportunities for fellows to care for patients with involuntary movements, some of which may be service-related, in a different setting.

Other clinical resources include excellent and dedicated nursing and support staff who assist with patient phone calls, paperwork, etc.

Aside from their learning through direct patient care and interaction with our faculty, the fellows participate in weekly movement disorder video rounds, during which they are exposed to videotaped neurological examinations of a broad range of patients with involuntary movements. The videotapes provide the centerpiece for clinical and academic discussions during the session, and often provide the seed for clinical research projects.

Fellows have 50% available time (i.e., five half-days per week) to develop their research skills. At the time of entry into the fellowship program, the fellow will likely fit into one of the following categories:

  1. Academic career: 70 - 80% clinical research and 20 - 30% clinical care
  2. Academic career: 70 - 80% basic research and 20 - 30% clinical care
  3. Academic career: 20 - 30% clinical research and 70 - 80% clinical care
  4. Non-Academic career: 100% clinical care

Our program favors the training of fellows who will go on to academic careers in neurology (see A, B, C), although we will accept exceptional candidates who are interested in pursuing non-academic careers in clinical neurology as well. Fellows generally enter the program with varying levels of insight into their future interests, ranging from those who have yet to develop a sense of their interests to those who have already formulated a clear path.

A prime objective of our training program is to foster the career development of our fellows, irrespective of where they fall in this grid. All fellows are actively mentored by the faculty and are expected during their two years of training to write at least one scholarly paper, which might be a case report, a case series, a paper involving the collection of original data, or a review article. Fellows are additionally expected to present one or more abstracts at national or international meetings during fellowship.

Through their interactions with our faculty, fellows who are interested in clinical research careers will be exposed to and develop expertise in all aspects of clinical research including (1) posing of research questions, (2) critically evaluating the suitability of the research question as the center piece of a practical research project, (3) developing hypotheses and specific aims, (4) developing an idea for a specific paper prior to the onset of the study, (5) designing research protocols and tools (e.g., designing questionnaires), (6) writing and submitting an IRB proposal, (7) learning how to handle thorny issues that arise during the course of the study, (8) becoming familiar with basic elements of data analysis, (9) learning how to write manuscripts, (10) learning how to submit papers for publication and effectively deal with reviewer comments. Fellows will also have the opportunity to participate in the design and conduct of clinical trials, working with our faculty.

Our faculty have a range of clinical research interests, including neuroimaging (Dr. Tinaz), dystonia (Dr. Kim), essential tremor (Dr. Louis), Wilson’s disease (Dr. Patel), and restless legs syndrome (Dr. Koo).

Fellows who are interested in clinical research careers that involve 70 – 80% research time will receive additional training in identifying funding opportunities, and developing ideas for and writing research grants (esp. K awards to NIH). These fellows will be expected to write several original research scientific papers during their fellowship training. There are a number of additional training opportunities at Yale, which fellows may avail themselves of (e.g., Master of Health Science [MHS] degree program). The Department of Neurology at Yale has also received the T32 Institutional Training Grant through the NIH to support fellows who have a particular interest in clinical research and epidemiology.

Fellows who are interested in basic research careers that involve 70 – 80% research time will have the opportunity to interact and work with members of the department as well as allied centers who run basic research labs. Here they will gain experience in research design and laboratory techniques devoted to addressing basic questions in movement disorders. These fellows will receive additional training in identifying funding opportunities, and developing ideas for and writing research grants (esp. K awards to NIH). These fellows will be expected to write several original research papers during their training.

Fellows who are interested in education will be given opportunities to teach medical students and residents throughout the medical center, and may additionally participate in scholarly projects in medical education with Dr. Schaefer.

The core features of the Yale Movement Disorders program were described in the previous tabs. A number of special features deserve additional highlighting.

  1. The movement disorders division chief, Dr. Elan Louis, has considerable clinical knowledge of a broad range of tremor disorders, and an added element of the program is intensive training in the expert recognition of tremor phenomenology and the diagnosis of tremor disorders. Working at the Yale Comprehensive Tremor Center, which is currently being established, will provide fellows with exposure to a multi-disciplinary approach to the treatment of a range of tremor disorders, including essential tremor, Parkinson’s disease, dystonic tremor, psychogenic tremor, etc.
  2. Dr. Louis has had a longstanding career in clinical research as well as the mentoring of trainees and junior faculty. He is strongly committed to mentoring the fellows in clinical research methodology and career development.
  3. Ties between the Department and the Yale School of Public Health provide fellows with additional avenues to develop clinical and epidemiological research skills. The Department of Neurology at Yale has received the T32 Institutional Training Grant through the NIH to support fellows who have a particular interest in clinical research and epidemiology.
  4. Strengths in other clinical departments and programs at the medical center (Psychiatry, Internal Medicine) provide fellows with the opportunity for unique exposure to patients with Tourette’s syndrome, Wilson’s disease, dysautonomia and more.

Yale is a member of a consortium of movement disorder fellowship training programs in which a matching plan is utilized. This is the San Francisco Match for Movement Disorders. In order to apply to our fellowship, applicants should register through the San Francisco match website and then submit their application to us directly by emailing (yalemovementfellowship@yale.edu) The application should include the following documents:

  1. A cover letter that summarizes candidate’s qualifications (completion of neurology residency, ECFMG certificate if applicable).
  2. A personal statement explaining the candidate's interest in movement disorders and her/his future career goals, including scholarly interests.
  3. A curriculum vitae.
  4. Three letters of recommendation, addressed to Dr. Sara Schaefer, the Fellowship Director, with one letter being from the candidate's residency program director.

Applications should be submitted during the PGY3 year and applicants must have successfully completed their neurology residency program before entering the Yale fellowship program. After the application process, selected candidates will be scheduled for an interview. Interviews take place from May through August of PGY4 (i.e., approximately 9 - 12 months before starting the fellowship).