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Researcher of the Quarter – Dr. Shabbir Merchant

Meet Dr. Shabbir Merchant, ACCEL Researcher of the Quarter and recipient of a 2019 Mentored Research Development Award (MRDA). Dr. Merchant is a movement disorder neurologist and assistant professor of neurology at the Medical University of South Carolina. His clinical work involves treating patients with Parkinson’s disease, tremors, and other movement disorders. He uses therapies such as deep brain stimulation and precision tools like ultrasound guided botulinum toxin injections for treatment of a wide variety of neurological disorders such as dystonia, spasticity, etc.

Dr. Merchant began participating in the ACCEL MRDA program in January 2019 to continue his research in neurophysiology, movement disorders, and motor control physiology. As a full-time clinician, Dr. Merchant has limited capacity for research work, and the MRDA has allowed him to analyze the data and write papers from the data from his previous work during fellowship at NINDS. His most recent publication titled ‘The role of inferior parietal lobule in writer’s cramp’ was published in the journal Brain and will also be featured on the cover of the June 2020 issue. Some additional manuscripts are in production and preparation. The MRDA has also facilitated collaboration with mentors and researchers at MUSC, and he will be submitting a grant proposal to NIH to pursue his research interests. Says Dr. Merchant, “I work full-time as a clinician and do not have much time left for research. Without the MRDA, it would have been very difficult to pursue my research interests. It’s a very useful mechanism to support the research endeavors of junior faculty and allows them to have a good work and life balance. I am thankful to the ACCEL Program as I continue my research.”

Dr. Merchant also has research interest in motor control physiology. His previous and current work includes several areas such understanding pathophysiology of dystonia, tremor, ataxia and spasticity. Dr. Merchant will be submitting a R21 grant proposal to the National Institute of Health this Summer to study task-specific dystonia. He is also currently collaborating with stroke and aphasia researchers at MUSC and USC for a
planned R01 grant submission in Fall 2020 to study pathophysiology of limb and speech apraxia. He has applied for an extension on his current MRDA to pursue this planned work.

If you would like more information on Dr. Merchant’s research, you may contact him at