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John Huddlestone, MD, celebrates retirement after 40 years of MS research

Posted on Sep. 25, 2020 ( comments)

John Huddlestone, MD, retired from MultiCare in September after nearly 40 years as a dedicated physician, neurologist and researcher.

He’s been a tireless advocate for the multiple sclerosis (MS) community, leading nearly 100 clinical trials in the South Sound. Dr. Huddlestone’s research at MultiCare offered significant scientific contributions to MS medications and treatments. His commitment to community-based research provided access to new therapies that are often only available at major academic research institutions. Because of his work, many MultiCare patients that participated in clinical research were among the first to have access to emerging new treatments and medicine as part of their care plan.

Dr. Huddlestone began his career serving as a neurologist and Lieutenant Commander at a US Navy Hospital. He moved to the South Sound and spent 30 years in private practice neurology before joining MultiCare in 2010 in the neuroscience center as director of the MS Center.

In recent years, Dr. Huddlestone worked closely with the MultiCare Institute for Research & Innovation (MIRI) to design and implement a MS data repository. This data repository is exclusively dedicated to studying disease characteristics among MS patients and monitoring outcomes of disease-modifying therapies. Only six such MS registries exist within the United States. Researchers and clinicians at MultiCare will continue to work together using this data to improve treatment and outcomes for MS patients.

“Dr. Huddlestone leaves behind a legacy of community research and practice. His passion for excellence shines through his career at every turn. He is leaving behind a strong clinical practice and research program in our community that will continue to bring the latest therapies and care delivery models to our community. We are grateful for the strong research program Dr. Huddlestone has built in the South Puget Sound that is recognized nationally for research excellence” says Anne Reedy, Vice President for Research at MultiCare.  

In 2017, Dr. Huddlestone was recognized for his lifetime commitment to research excellence through the Diane Cecchettini Excellence in Research Award. This prestigious award is given annually to recognize a researcher or team of researchers for exceptional leadership and research discovery in medicine at the local, national, and international level.

Dr. Huddlestone’s greatest legacy is the relationships he has nurtured across a lifetime of caring for patients and families living with multiple sclerosis.

“Relationships matter to John. He treats everyone with respect and has a genuine interest in the lives of staff, coworkers and in the lives of his patients,” says his former colleague Megan McDaniel. “He is the rare type of doctor that greeted his own patients in the lobby, shook their hands and walked them back. His patients were always grateful for that personal touch.”

Other colleagues also shared reflections about Dr. Huddlestone and his contributions:

Colleague Greg Bell, MD, says, “John has been a great mentor and friend. My connection with him dates back to medical school. John introduced me to the field of neurology as a preceptor early on in my third year. I found his compassion, expertise and enthusiasm for the field to be infectious and compelling, ultimately contributing to my decision to become a neurologist. I am truly grateful for his stellar example and guidance.”

Neurologist Peter Kwon, MD, says, “The first time I met John, I was interviewing for a position here, twenty years ago, while we were still part of Neurology and Neurosurgery Associates of Tacoma. In walks this tall, imposing figure, very well spoken, and intimidating MS researcher and premier MS physician. As he showed me around Tacoma, I could see the pride he had in this community and the passion he had in taking care of MS patients and doing MS research. Through the years I learned that behind that intimidating exterior is a soft heart that cares about his patients and cares about mentorship of new physicians and fellow neurologists. He challenges you to constantly strive for best practice and best care for your patients.”

MultiCare is committed to carrying forward Dr. Huddlestone’s passion for excellence through research. In partnership with the MultiCare Institute for Research & Innovation, the Neuroscience Center will continue to offer patients access to new therapies in MS as well as migraine, Parkinson’s, and other neurological conditions. MultiCare will continue to explore better ways to deliver care to MS patients utilizing the data registry created by Dr. Huddlestone. 

“We are forever grateful for Dr. Huddlestone’s contributions to our community as a distinguished neurologist and researcher. His passion for excellence in MS care through groundbreaking therapies and effective, patient centered healthcare delivery models will be carried forward as we work to cure MS” says Reedy.  

Join MultiCare in honoring Dr. Huddlestone’s legacy and lifetime commitment to excellence. Help advance Dr. Huddlestone’s research legacy by donating to the MultiCare MS Research Fund.

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MultiCare Health System
MultiCare is a not-for-profit health care organization with more than 18,000 team members, including employees, providers and volunteers. Learn more. More stories by this author
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