Neuromuscular Diseases Division

The Neuromuscular Diseases Division is directed by David Lacomis, MD. Other division members are Sasa Zivkovic, MD and Paula Clemens, MD. Dr. Lacomis’ major clinical interests are myasthenia gravis, motor neuron diseases, myopathies, electromyography, and neuromuscular pathology. Dr. Zivkovic specializes in peripheral neuropathies, neuromuscular diseases, ALS, and electromyography. Dr. Clemens specializes in muscular dystrophies and other inherited neuromuscular disorders. 

Treatment Sites and Programs

The Division of Neuromuscular Disease provides outpatient care and electrodiagnostic testing (electromyography, and autonomic studies) at UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Shadyside (Dr. Zivkovic). The subspecialty ALS and Muscular Dystrophy clinics are held in the Kaufmann Building on the UPMC-Presbyterian campus, while all other neuromuscular disease patients can be seen at both campuses. 

MDA Care Center

All neuromuscular physicians see patients weekly in the Muscular Dystrophy Association-affiliated MDA Care Center, providing diagnostic and treatment services. These patients have a wide range of neuromuscular diseases including all forms of muscular dystrophy, other muscle diseases, Charcot-Marie Tooth Disease, spinal muscular atrophy, myasthenia gravis, and other motor neuron diseases. Patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, who transition from Children’s Hospital, are managed by Dr. Clemens who coordinates their multidisciplinary care. A physical therapist is also available. Genetic testing is available to most patients seen in the Center. Patients may be eligible to participate in clinical trials and natural history studies.

ALS Multidisciplinary Clinic

The ALS multidisciplinary clinic is an MDA-ALS Center of excellence for clinical care and research and is designed for people who require treatment from many specialists – neurologists (Drs. Lacomis and Zivkovic), nurses, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech and swallow therapists, social worker, and dietitian, for example. For these patients, the clinic offers the ability to receive many types of care in the same place and, in most cases, during the same visit. The clinic allows the specialists to confer and coordinate treatment, leading to decisions based on sound information and feedback. It also gives patients the opportunity to participate in clinical drug trials and other clinical research. MDA and ALSA support staff are available to answer questions and to provide equipment from their loan closets. The Multidisciplinary Clinic is held monthly, usually on the second Friday of each month, in the Kaufmann Medical Building, Suite 810. 

Dr. Lacomis is also in charge of the neuromuscular pathology service, and he performs needle muscle biopsies at the time of EMG testing.

Research

Dr. Clemens has an active program in dystrophinopathy research that involves both basic and clinical research. Dr. Lacomis’ research includes clinical drug trials, biomarkers, and genomic studies in ALS, and he collaborates with colleagues in the Live Like Lou Center for ALS Research. Dr. Zivkovic performs clinical trials in familial amyloid neuropathy, autoimmune neuropathies, and ALS.