The architect: Warren Marks, M.D.
Dr. Marks develops Cook Children’s pediatric movement disorder program
For one year in college, Warren Marks, M.D., took a year off from science and medicine to pursue another passion of his – architecture.
Today, Dr. Marks looks back at that time as “an interesting diversion,” but it really helps explain who the man really is. After all, he’s built one of the nation’s most highly successful comprehensive clinical centers for pediatric movement disorders.
Dr. Marks, who is one of the first two Endowed Chairs at Cook Children’s, has molded a program where Cook Children’s deep brain stimulation serves as the centerpiece.
Most recently, Dr. Marks has seen the end of years of work with the addition of Cook Children’s Motion Lab, which sees children, teens and young adults who have a variety of complex movement disorders, including cerebral palsy, dystonia and traumatic brain and spine injuries.
He just keeps on adding to a legacy where he has brought together the most advanced technology with a kid-friendly atmosphere.
When he was a kid, Dr. Marks loved science and became fascinated with the brain and how it works. When he entered Texas Christian University, Dr. Marks considered a career in chemistry, earning a Bachelor of Science degree from TCU, and then he took that year to pursue architecture.
But once he entered Texas Tech University School of Medicine, Dr. Marks’ life’s work began to take focus. During his training he returned to studying the brain and found he had no choice but to make his career helping children.
“I always liked it that if you are going to do pediatrics, you know it up front,” Dr. Marks said. “If you look at the personality inventory of pediatricians, they don’t look like the rest of the physicians, they look like social workers. I talk to medical students when I have them over at the office and the ones that are going to go into pediatrics have no doubt that’s what they are doing. The ones who have hesitation about it are usually not destined to go into pediatrics.”
Dr. Marks joined Cook Children’s in 1988 and today serves as the medical director for the Movement Disorder and Neurorehabilitation Program.
Dr. Marks said he loves the multidisciplinary approach he finds at Cook Children’s, often working directly with rehabilitation therapists, orthotists, neurosurgeons, orthopedists and others. He has developed several multidisciplinary rehabilitation teams, including the transitional care unit, and specialized multidisciplinary clinics that have been developed for children with spasticity, movement disorders, and neuromuscular disorders.
“You have different people coming from different backgrounds,” Dr. Marks said. “Everybody’s perspective is different and we are all bouncing ideas off one another. It’s one of the great things about Cook Children’s.”
Dr. Marks said that team approach creates better care for patients. He said the goal of the neurology team at Cook Children’s is not just to treat children or find a quick fix, but to make their overall quality of life better. He calls this an exciting time for the Neuroscience Program at Cook Children’s, exploring new and innovative approaches to complex patient issues such as movement disorders and epilepsy.
“We are doing as much as anybody and more than most in the country when it comes to improving children’s lives,” Dr. Marks said. “We continue to expand our offerings. We continue to push the limits of treatment. In the future we will have the ability to treat more children and more complex neurological diseases and make them even better. I’m really excited about our ability to bring these new and innovative approaches to solving some very complex issues.”
During his tenure, Dr. Marks remembers fondly certain patients and how to see their lives dramatically impacted. He recalls sisters he treated who went from being bed ridden to being in wheel chairs to dancing at their senior prom and eventually getting married, leading normal and productive lives.
“Those are the stories you look back and say, ‘Man was I lucky.’ You found the magic key for those kids.”