Michael Cartwright, MD, MS, Receives Jun Kimura Outstanding Educator Award

Published July 13, 2021


AANEM has selected Michael Cartwright, MD, MS to receive the Jun Kimura Outstanding Educator Award in 2021. AANEM Outstanding Educator Awards honor members for their significant contributions related to neuromuscular and electrodiagnostic medicine education. Dr. Cartwright, currently a Professor of Neurology, Neuromuscular Fellowship Director, and MDA Clinic Director, has been a member of AANEM since 2004. He has been a practicing neurologist/physiatrist for 15 years.

“I was drawn to neurology, and neuromuscular medicine in particular, because I liked anatomy, the diagnostic process, and the development of long-term relationships with patients,” Dr. Cartwright states. “Since I was a medical student, Dr. Francis Walker encouraged me to pursue new technologies, and he has strongly supported my career ever since. This makes the Dr. Jun Kimura Award even more meaningful to me, because Dr. Walker was trained by Dr. Kimura. I also learned from two fantastic teachers, Dr. James Caress and Dr. Peter Donofrio, during my training at Wake Forest.”

Dr. Cartwright’s research is in neuromuscular imaging, mainly with high-resolution ultrasound, but he also has interests in genetic testing, gene therapy, neurologic procedures, immune mediated neuromuscular conditions, and childhood neuromuscular diseases. He is the editor of two textbooks, Neuromuscular Ultrasound and Neuromuscular Medicine: an Outline of High-yield Topics. “The most valuable lesson I have learned,” Dr. Cartwright explains, “is to pursue new technologies. That led to me discover the power of neuromuscular ultrasound and the impact of gene therapies, both of which have greatly benefited the patients I work with.”

Dr. Cartwright enjoys educating and working in this subspecialty because of the variety. “I enjoy doing clinic, EMG sessions, educational events, research, and patient advocacy,” he says. Through the years, patient stories have impacted Dr. Cartwright. One development, in particular, has changed his outlook on how he practices medicine. “In the past several years,” Dr. Cartwright begins, “the development of genetic therapies has been absolutely incredible. We can now effectively treat spinal muscular atrophy, a condition that had no medications fewer than five years ago. In May 2021, we began universal newborn screening for SMA in all children born in North Carolina, and in early June 2021 the first positive test occurred. I was able to prescribe gene therapy for this child within weeks of birth, which has the potential to completely alter her clinical course.”

As an active AANEM member, Dr. Cartwright has been proud to present cutting-edge research, learn new approaches to improve patient care, and teach neurologists and physiatrists at all stages of their career. Previously, Dr. Cartwright served on AANEM’s Ultrasound Committee; Currently, the Certificate of Added Qualification in Ultrasound Committee and Ulnar Neuropathy at the Elbow Clinical Practice Guideline Committee. Dr. Cartwright advises those just starting a career in neurology or PMR to “do what you love.” He does not believe in making career choices based on money or schedules because “that can all change quickly and it won’t matter if you are doing something you do not enjoy.”

For Dr. Cartwright, there are two aspects of educating he finds most rewarding. “I really enjoy it when a medical student has an “aha!” moment, especially when it pertains to neurology,” he states. “And it is great to hear from previous fellows. They sometimes call with tough cases, but after talking through the case with them, it is clear that they have a very deep understanding of their patient and really did not need my assistance. That is quite rewarding to an educator.” 

Dr. Cartwright is looking forward to attending the upcoming Annual Meeting in Aurora, Colorado in October. “Seeing colleagues and meeting new people—I always look forward to the AANEM annual meeting, and I missed being able to attend in-person last year.”

In Dr. Cartwright’s personal life, he enjoys sports and fishing. He coaches his children’s basketball, flag football, and soccer teams. When asked what colleagues might be surprised to know about him, Dr. Cartwright replies, “In college, I took a course on the performance of poetry, taught by Dr. Maya Angelou. It was an incredible experience, but I will not be performing at the AANEM annual meeting!”