Eric Altschuler, MD, PhD, is associate chief and residency program director at Metropolitan Hospital. Previously, he was an associate professor at Temple University School of Medicine in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Temple University Hospital. Before that, he was an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and microbiology and molecular genetics at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. His primary interest is in basic and clinically applied cognitive neuroscience. That is, the search to understand how the brain works and how this knowledge can be applied to treat disease. Dr. Altschuler was the first to show a benefit of mirror therapy for individuals with hemiparesis following stroke, and the use of mirror therapy for an orthopaedic condition.
Dr. Altschuler also is interested in understanding the causes and treatments of pandemic human pathogens. With colleagues he was able to isolate from aged (91+ year old) survivors antibodies to the pandemic 1918 influenza virus which caused 50 million deaths. In the course of this study they also noticed that a small percentage of individuals born after 1918 had antibodies that reacted against the pandemic strain. This work was the first to form the basis of vaccine rationing for the 2009 H1N1 “swine” flu pandemic, as older individuals had some antibody protection against the 2009 flu which turned out to be in some ways related to the 1918 flu. This rationing in which individuals over 65 were last to be vaccinated (in contrast to recommendations to vaccinate this group as a priority for the “regular” seasonal flu of that year) was crucial as sufficient vaccine for all was not ready in the midst of the pandemic. Dr. Altschuler also participated in a study looking for factors that allow some individuals to control the HIV virus without medications. He continues microbe hunting for pandemic pathogens past, present and future.
Dr. Altschuler is interested in the history of medicine and science, medicine in literature and neuroscience in art in particular how knowledge and understanding of the past can be helpful in treating disease today–“applied” history of science. He is interested in new uses for “old” approved medications, as well as the fugues and other aspects of the structure of the music of JS Bach.
1995, Hertz Thesis Prize, Fannie & John Hertz Foundation