University of Florida neurologist Michael S. Jaffee, M.D., an expert in brain injury and sleep medicine, has been named chair of the UF College of Medicine’s department of neurology.
He succeeds Michael Okun, M.D., who has served as the department’s chair since 2015 and will continue as a practicing neurologist, faculty member and executive director of the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at UF Health. Jaffee, the Bob Paul Family Professor of Neurology, has served as the department’s vice chair since coming to UF in 2016.
“I look forward to building on the wonderful foundation and momentum that Dr. Okun has established,” Jaffee said. “Our faculty members have an amazing combination of expertise, passion and a drive to collaborate, and when you put that all together, it creates a culture that allows us to provide the highest quality of care, research and education.”
The department recently experienced vast growth, expanding into all subspecialties of neurology, guided by Okun’s principle that the patient is the sun and teams of care providers and researchers should orbit around them. The department now boasts 15 specialty fellowships and is committed to educational excellence at every level, Jaffee said.
“Our department is on an incredible upward trajectory, and Dr. Jaffee has the expertise, passion and vision to take us to the next level. I’m excited to continue working closely with all of my neurology colleagues, both as a faculty member and in my leadership role at the Norman Fixel Institute, which also has a bold new vision,” said Okun, who also serves as the Parkinson’s Foundation’s national medical advisor.
Jaffee is the founding director of UF’s Brain Injury, Rehabilitation and Neuroresilience Center and is board certified in neurology, psychiatry, sleep medicine and brain injury medicine with additional certifications in behavioral neurology and neuropsychiatry. He has NIH R01 research funding, and much of his career focus has been on developing multidisciplinary strategies for assessment and management of traumatic brain injury. He also studies links between sleep and neurological disorders.
“Dr. Okun has taken the department of neurology to incredible heights, and it’s important to choose the right leader to build upon this progress,” said Colleen Koch, M.D., M.S., M.B.A., dean of the UF College of Medicine. “As a clinician, researcher, teacher and leader, Dr. Jaffee exemplifies all of our college’s missions, and we’re thrilled to have him step into this role.”
A native of Silver Spring, Maryland, Jaffee earned two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, one in the biological basis of behavior and the other from the Wharton School in health care systems. He graduated from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in 1992 and completed a combined residency in neurology and psychiatry at the San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium in 1998. He went on to complete a sleep medicine fellowship there in 2011.
His 21-year U.S. Air Force career included wartime service in 2006 as chief of the medical staff for the largest U.S. military hospital in Iraq and service as the neurology consultant to the Air Force surgeon general. He was one of five military doctors selected to serve on the original “Gray Team,” which was sent into Afghanistan to report to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on nonvisible effects of blast exposure. The team’s recommendations were adapted as military operational policy and have had a lasting impact on the modern treatment of concussion.
Over his military career, Jaffee also served as the U.S. Department of Defense liaison to two White House-appointed panels of the Defense Health Board and as the national director of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, where he managed a network of 18 sites, which collectively produced over 100 peer-reviewed articles. He has represented the Defense Department in testimony before Congress, and his military promotion ceremony was held in the House of Representatives at the invitation of the bipartisan Congressional Brain Injury Task Force.
Jaffee retired from the Air Force at the rank of colonel in 2013 and was appointed as an associate professor of neurology, psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia. There, he served as inaugural medical director of the Brain Injury and Sports Concussion Institute and director of the neurology sleep service.
Jaffee has helped develop seminal clinical practice guidelines and tools for the management of mild traumatic brain injury, and he is co-author of the 2023 book “Navigating the Challenges of Concussion,” the latest in the American Academy of Neurology’s Brain & Life series. He is dedicated to developing innovative educational and research collaborations between the Department of Defense, federal agencies, academic institutions and other stakeholders, including the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the Alzheimer’s Association.
In addition, he served as chair of the Peer Reviewed Alzheimer’s Research Program of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs and is the senior neurologist on the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation national brain injury medicine examination committee. He is an examination committee member for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and serves as editor of Clinical Neurology Update, a publication of The New England Journal of Medicine, and on the editorial board of the American Academy of Neurology’s Brain & Life magazine.