Patients and Visitors go to:

Neurology Chair

Dane Chetkovich, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Chairman
of Neurology

Faculty By Divisions

David Charles, M.D.

Chief Medical Officer, Vanderbilt Neuroscience Institute

Director, Telemedicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center


Dr. Charles is Professor and Vice-Chairman of Neurology and Medical Director, Vanderbilt Telehealth. His research interests include the treatment of spasticity and cervical dystonia and he is currently leading the only clinical trial approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration to test deep brain stimulation in people with early stage Parkinson's disease. 

Dr. Charles is a member of the American Neurological Association, Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, Board member of the United Council of Neurologic Subspecialties, Chair of the Alliance for Patient Access, and Past-President of the Tennessee Academy of Neurology. He is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha honor medical society and in 2007 received the CANDLE Award. Recipients are chosen based upon their positive impact on the lives of physicians-in-training, and are recognized by their students as examples of excellence in medical education. In 2007, 2008, and 2010 Dr. Charles received the Five Star Service Award placing him in the top 10% nationally for overall quality of specialty medical care.

From 1997-98, Dr. Charles served as a Health Policy Fellow in the United States Senate on the staff of the Labor Subcommittee for Public Health and Safety. In 1998 he studied deep brain stimulation for the treatment of movement disorders as a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the Universitaire de Grenoble in Grenoble, France. In 2000 Dr. Charles was a nominee for the United States House of Representatives from Tennessees Sixth Congressional District.

Dr. Charles graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Engineering in 1986 with a B.S. cum laude in Computer Science and Mathematics, and earned his medical degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1990. He did his internship in the department of Medicine and his residency in the department of Neurology at Vanderbilt. From 1993-94 he was Chief Resident in Neurology, and from 1994-95 he was a Fellow in Movement Disorders and Clinical Neurophysiology at Vanderbilt. In 1996, he completed a Health Care Management course at Vanderbilts Owen Graduate School of Management, and in 1997 he completed the Harvard Macy Institute Program for Physician Educators at Harvard Medical School.

Vanderbilt University has received or currently receives income from grants or contracts with Allergan, Boehringer-Ingelheim, DuPont, Elan, Hoffman-LaRoche, Ipsen, Kyowa, Medtronic, Merz, Novartis, and Smith-Kline to support Dr. Charles research efforts. Dr. Charles has received or currently receives income from Allergan, Alliance for Patient Access, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Ipsen, Medtronic, Merz, Mylan-Bertek, Novartis, Ovation, Pfizer, Prestwick, Schwarz, UCB, Vernalis, and Woodberry Associates for speaking or consulting services.

Our clinical research group’s focus is on improving the treatment of movement disorders, with specific interests in early stage Parkinson’s disease, Spasticity, and Cervical Dystonia. We undertake patient-oriented research in a variety of care settings including outpatient clinics, residential care homes, and retirement facilities. 
Deep Brain Stimulation in Early Stage Parkinson’s Disease
More than one million Americans are living with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative movement disorder characterized by loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. Deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN-DBS) is an approved adjunctive therapy for mid- and advanced stage Parkinson’s disease that improves motor symptoms, quality of life, and activities of daily living while also reducing medication burden and associated complications. Vanderbilt University  Medical Center completed the only prospective, randomized clinical trial testing DBS in very early stage Parkinson’s disease. Our ongoing line of research aims to investigate DBS in early stage Parkinson's disease to better understand if this treatment may slow the progression of the disease.

Spasticity in Adults
Spasticity is a form of muscle rigidity, which is often experienced by people with nervous system injuries. Spasticity can lead to many negative symptoms, such as increased incidence of urinary tract infection, pain and discomfort, and reduced quality of life. Additionally spasticity may impair activities of daily living, making it difficult to perform care activities for patients who require support. Our current line of research aims to validate the use of newly developed tools to assist with the identification and diagnosis of spasticity and to improve diagnostic criteria through identification of new markers of disease. 

Cervical Dystonia in Adults
Cervical dystonia is painful over-activity of the neck and shoulder muscles resulting in an abnormal head position. Our current line of research addresses treatment continuation in patients who receive treatment at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center outpatient clinic. 

Clinical Research Opportunities
We are accepting applications for undergraduate research roles within our team. Please send your résumé with an accompanying statement of interest to

Sponsored Investigation
Principal Investigator
Safety and Tolerability of Deep Brain Stimulation for the Treatment of Early Stage Parkinson’s Disease

Validity and Inter-rater Reliability of a Novel Bedside Referral Tool for Spasticity

Inter-rater Reliability of a Spasticity Diagnosis Algorithm

Prevalence, Treatment and Functional Impact of Spasticity in Nursing Home Residents: A Pilot 
Population Survey

Prevalence of Spasticity in Veterans Living in the Long-Term Care Setting: A Pilot Population Survey

A Retrospective Analysis of the Treatment of Cervical Dystonia at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Multicenter trials testing neurotoxin injection for spasticity and cervical dystonia

Select Publications
Heusinkveld L, Hacker M, Turchan M, Bollig M, Tamargo C, et. al. Patient Perspectives on Deep Brain Stimulation Clinical Research in Early Stage Parkinson’s Disease. J Parkinsons Dis. 2016 Nov 30. [Epub ahead of print]
Turchan M, Hudson TS, Gill CE, Currie AD, Molinari AL, et al. (2016) The Prevalence of Spasticity in Veterans Living in a Long-Term Care Facility. Int J Neurol Neurother 3:056
Sayce L, Hudson T, Heusinkveld L, Currie AD, Hacker M, Charles, D. (2016) Spasticity Diagnosis and Treatment in the United States – A Priority for our Aging Population. International Journal of Neurorehabilitation 3: 216.
Hacker ML, Currie AD, Molinari AL, Turchan M, Millan SM, et. al. Subthalamic Nucleus Deep Brain Stimulation May Reduce Medication Costs in Early Stage Parkinson’s Disease. Journal of Parkinson’s Disease 2016;6(1):125-31.
Hacker ML, Tonascia J, Turchan M, Currie A, Heusinkveld L, et. al. Deep brain stimulation may reduce the relative risk of clinically important worsening in early stage Parkinson’s disease. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2015 Oct;21(10):1177-83.
Charles D, Konrad PE, Neimat JS, Molinari AL, Tramontana MG, et. al. Subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation in early stage Parkinson’s disease. Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2014 Jul; 20(1):731-7.
Gill CE, Manus ND, Pelster MW, Cook JA, Title W, et. al. Continuation of long-term care for cervical dystonia at an academic movement disorders clinic. Toxins 2013 Apr 23;5(4):776-83.
Charles PD, Dolhun RM, Gill CE, Davis TL, Bliton MJ, Tramontana MG, Salomon RM, Wang L, Hedera P, Phibbs FT, Neimat JS, Konrad PD. Deep Brain Stimulation in early Parkinsons disease: Enrollment experience from a pilot trial. Parkinsonism and Related Disorders 2012; 18: 268-273.
Gill CE, Allen LA, Davis TL, Tramontana MG, Bliton MJ, Finder SG, Charles PD. Deep brain stimulation for early stage Parkinsons disease: a case report with two years of follow-up. Neuromodulation 2011; 14(6):515-522.
Remple MS, Harrison CH, Kao C, Charles PD, Neimat JS, Konrad PE. Subthalamic Nucleus Neuronal Firing Rate Increases in the Subthalamic Nucleus with Parkinsons Disease Progression. Movement Disorders 2011;26(9):1657-1662.
Hedera P, Phibbs FT, Fang JY, Cooper MK, Charles PD, Davis TL. Clustering of Dystonia in Some Pedigrees with Autosomal dominant Essential Tremor Suggest the Existence of a Distinct Genetic Subtype of Essential Tremor. BMC Neurology 2010;10:66.
Charles PD, Gill CE, Taylor HM, Putman MS, Ayers GD, Blair CR, Roberts AG, Konrad PE. Spasticity Treatment Facilitates Direct Care Delivery for Adults with Profound Intellectual Disability. Movement Disorders 2010;25(4):466-473.
Select Book Chapters, Invited Reviews, and Congressional Testimony
Phibbs FT, Charles PD. Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome. In Robertson D, Biaggioni I, Burnstock G, Low PA, Patton JFR, ed. Primer on the Autonomic Nervous System, 3rd Edition. San Diego, California: Academic Press 2012;541-544.
Charles PD, Gill CE. Neurotoxin injection for Movement Disorders. In Charles PD, Chair. Continuum Movement Disorders: Lifelong Learning in Neurology 2009;16(1):131-157.
Charles PD, Gill CE, Davis TL, Konrad PE, Benabid AL. Is Deep Brain Stimulation in Parkinsons Disease Neuroprotective When Applied Early in the Disease Course? Nature Clinical Practice Neurology 2008;4(8):424-426.
Charles PD. Protecting Human Subjects in Research: Are Current Safeguards Adequate? Congressional Record 2002;148(46):D373. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. 2002; S.Hrg.107-424(79-325 PDF):19-24.


Department of Neurology
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
1161 21st Ave S, Suite A-1106 MCN
Nashville, Tennessee 37232
Tel: (615) 936-0060
Fax: (615) 322-0262

Undergraduate Research Interns – Charles Research Group

We are accepting applications from engaged and enthusiastic students with a keen interest in science and/or medicine for undergraduate research positions within our clinical research team. Successful applicants will be a valued member of our research group, undertaking key tasks required for the approval and performance of patient-based research in the field of Movement Disorders. Reporting to the Research Assistant Professor, the Research Associate, or the Health and Policy/Services Analyst II, these interns will provide essential support for the clinical research performed by our team. The position serves as an excellent opportunity to learn about clinical research and clinical practice, whilst providing an environment to refine academic skills such as critical review and analysis, data interpretation, and written communication.

Undergraduate Interns – Charles Telehealth and Education Group

We are seeking motivated and organized undergraduate students with an interest in telehealth and science education to support the Medical Center’s growth in telehealth and our neurology education programs.  Working with Dr. Charles and our Program Coordinator, team members will provide proactive support for our flagship telehealth initiatives, medical education programs for neurology residents, and continuing medical education (CME) course for board certified neurologists. In addition, this team member will accompany Dr. Charles in seeing patients in The Vanderbilt Clinic and Hospital and assist the Program Coordinator with academic, administrative, and coordination tasks. This position offers an excellent opportunity to gain experience in patient care, telehealth, and medical education and will improve skills, including written communication, organization, and database management.

DBS Links

Neurology Today® Video: DBS Improves Motor Function in Patients with Early-Stage Parkinson’s Disease
Medscape: Motor Skill Improvement with DBS Seen in Early Parkinson’s
Vanderbilt Reporter: Early intervention at heart of new Parkinson’s trial
Vanderbilt Reporter: Events honor early patients of novel Parkinson’s study
Vanderbilt Reporter: Brain stimulation for early Parkinson’s shows promise
Vanderbilt Reporter: DBS for Parkinson’s trial moves to next level
Vanderbilt Reporter: Trial to test whether DBS slows Parkinson’s progression