In Memoriam: Robert E. Barrett, MD

Dr. Robert E. Barrett

With great sorrow, we would like to acknowledge the death of our friend and colleague, Dr. Robert E. Barrett, who died on June 25, 2011, at the age of 79. Dr. Barrett’s influential career as a neurological clinician and research scientist spanned nearly half a century. He held the academic appointment of Clinical Professor of Neurology at Columbia University for three decades. He was an attending neurologist at the Neurological Institute of New York-Presbyterian – Columbia University Medical Center and Lenox Hill Hospital, and a consultant at Vassar Brothers Hospital for the Department of Neurology & Neurosurgery.

As a researcher in the late 1960s and 1970s, Dr. Barrett conducted some of the early, groundbreaking investigations of the effects of L-Dopa (dopamine) in Parkinsonism that helped pave the way for its widespread usage in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. His research also included work on cerebrovascular spasm and vasoconstriction in stroke, muscular disorders, and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) – a form of dementia in immune-compromised patients in the early 1980s, later discovered to be a sequelae of AIDS. He published over 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals, as well as several book chapters.

As a clinical neurologist, Dr. Barrett also maintained a private practice on the upper east side of Manhattan for 40 years. He was considered a leading Parkinson’s disease expert, and his other areas of expertise included headache, stroke, seizure disorder, multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathy, and neck and lumbar spine problems. He provided care to thousands of patients over his career including Mayor Ed Koch, who echoed the sentiments of many when he said, “Bob Barrett was a unique human being. Not only brilliant in his profession, he was able immediately to forge a friendship with his patients, of which I was one. I truly admired and liked him, and when I saw him professionally always enjoyed the visit.”

We extend our heartfelt condolences to Virginia, his wife of more than 45 years, and his entire family, as well as his many loyal patients.