Dr. Karen Bell Receives Inaugural Neurology Clinician of the Year Award

March 24, 2021
Photo of Karen L. Bell, MD

Despite the difficult and delicate nature of her work as an aging and dementia specialist, laughter can often be heard emanating from the office of Dr. Karen Bell, on the 3rd floor of the Neurological Institute of New York at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Kind, caring, and committed are words frequently used to describe Dr. Bell, whose wisdom and good nature are prized by patients and colleagues alike. In recognition of the many attributes that define her as a truly outstanding physician, the Department of Neurology is pleased to announce Dr. Karen Bell as the inaugural recipient of the Neurology Clinician of the Year Award.

“In a specialty where many providers have historically shied away from being forthright with dementia diagnoses, she is always direct, kind, and hopeful in her communications. Even during those most difficult of informing visits, her patients feel like their care is what she would provide to her own family members,” says one of her nominators.

Dr. Bell, a professor of neurology at the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, completed neurology residency and dementia fellowship here at Columbia before joining the faculty of the Department of Neurology in 1991. She quickly earned a reputation as a remarkably intelligent and compassionate neurologist and educator. Aside from her dedication to her patients, Dr. Bell is also highly regarded for her long history of leadership in Alzheimer’s disease clinical trials, as well as her extensive community outreach, medical education, and mentorship activities.

“Dr. Bell is the type of clinician we all hope to become—brilliant, skilled, and caring. She is passionate about addressing healthcare disparities in people of color, and extending her clinical expertise to talks and presentations in the community. I can't think of a more deserving candidate for Clinician of the Year,” says one of Dr. Bell’s mentees.

This past year, as patients were forced into isolation from family, caregivers, and the community care programs they so depend on, Dr. Bell’s unique ability to connect with and reassure patients helped many to cope. “Dr. Bell is a standout clinician every year but it has become so apparent this year when our patients are desperate for care. She has spent countless hours on telehealth visits and also in person, making herself available at any time that works for patients, in order to meet their needs,” says another nominator. “It is a great honor to work with her.”

Patients of Dr. Bell and the faculty and staff of Neurology couldn’t agree more! Congratulations to Dr. Bell on this well-deserved honor!