John C. Kincaid, MD, Receives AANEM's Prestigious 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award

Published August 02, 2023

John C. Kincaid, MD, has been awarded AANEM’s 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award for his lifelong dedication to research, patient care, advocacy, and education. This award is the highest honor bestowed by AANEM, and is given to members who are recognized as major contributors in the fields of NM and EDX medicine.

Dr. Kincaid embarked on his professional medical journey at Indiana University School of Medicine, where he completed his medical degree, internship, and neurology residency. During his second year of residency, the chair of the neurology department recognized a need for someone with specialized fellowship level training in EMG. Encouraged by the chair, Dr. Kincaid pursued a fellowship in EMG at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, then returned to his roots in Indiana and dedicated his career to the advancement of NM and EDX medicine.

Dr. Kincaid has held numerous hospital appointments at Indiana University Hospitals and Indiana University Health, including the Kenneth L. and Selma G. Earnest Professor of Neurology. Currently, he continues to serve as an attending neurologist for patients with NM disorders; is in the EMG lab 4.5 days per week; and is involved with education of medical students, neurology and PM&R residents, and neurophysiology fellows on a daily basis. He also served as the medial expert for disability cases for the Social Security Administration for 35 years.

Dr. Kincaid has made significant contributions to the field through his publications in notable peer-reviewed journals and comprehensive textbooks, including Practical Electromyography 3rd Edition and Neuromuscular (Rehabilitation Medicine Quick Reference) 1st Edition. His remarkable achievements have earned him prestigious research and education awards, including the AANEM Distinguished Researcher Award, the Indiana University Board of Trustees Teaching Award (four times), the Indiana University Glenn Irwin Distinguished Faculty Award, the American Neurologic Association Distinguished Teacher Award, and the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society Robert Schwab Award.

According to Dr. Kincaid, his greatest reward, though, has been the skill level and professional satisfaction he’s seen in the neurology and PM&R residents and EMG fellows he’s helped train. “I am 7 years past when I could have retired from Indiana University, but the reward of being involved in teaching high-quality EMG and the day to day involvement in the advances in medical knowledge are too engaging to walk away from.”

“The future of NM and EDX medicine is VERY bright,” he said. “The advances in genetics, biochemistry, and immunology in NM disorders will soon provide us with the abilities to actively treat many of these disorders. When I started on the faculty in 1980, Charcot Marie Tooth neuropathy had only three types and limb girdle muscular dystrophy was one disorder.”

For young professionals interested in NM medicine, Dr. Kincaid offered reassurance that they are right on track. “First, being in neuromuscular and musculoskeletal medicine is the right field. The clinical history and the exam, EMG and ultrasound, and the amazing developments in genetics are our foundations,” he said. “Secondly, take advantage of as many opportunities as possible to be part of teaching and service, in your own institutions and in national organizations like AANEM.”

Dr. Kincaid has been an important leader within AANEM for decades. He has served in nearly every role across the organization, including as director, historian, and president of the AANEM Board of Directors; chair of the Disciplinary, Nominating, Awards, Equipment and Computer committees; editor of Positive Waves (now AANEM Edge), and a member of the Nominating, Quality Measures, Awards, Program, Membership & Ethics, Course, Education, and Finance committees. He has also been a part of the News Science Editorial Board, Teaching Options Task Force, QST Task Force, Special Interest Group, State Liaison Group, Technologist Qualifications Workgroup, and a member of the Muscle & Nerve Editorial Board. With ABEM, Dr. Kincaid served as a director, secretary, and chair of the ABEM Board of Directors; as well as the chair of the ABEM Long Range Planning and Nominating committees; and as a member of the ABEM Examination Committee. He currently serves on the Quality and Patient Safety and Professional Practice committees, is the Alternate Advisor for the AMA CPT Committee, and is an Alternate AANEM Delegate of the AMA.

Dr. Kincaid was the impetus behind AANEM’s most important position statement – AANEM’s Model Policy for EDX Medicine. Shirlyn Adkins, JD, AANEM Executive Director, recalled working with Dr. Kincaid on this project during her first year at the association. “He called me in 1993, when I was the new Manager of Administrative Service for AANEM, from a parking lot outside the Indiana Medicare office, asking if AANEM had any position on the proper number of tests that should be billed for each diagnosis. I responded that we did not, but I would help organize a group to create such a document. I told him, next time, it would be helpful if he called AANEM before he was in the parking lot! That is how I first met John and since that day, we have been good friends.”

Dr. Kincaid expressed appreciation for AANEM, highlighting the connections AANEM has facilitated throughout his career. “AANEM has been my major mentor, from listening to Dan Dumitru explain volume conduction in EMG, to Jasper Daube and Murray Brandstater teaching me how the AMA House of Delegates works,” he said. “The many good things I have learned and continue to learn from my PM&R colleagues over the years continues as a major source of collaboration.”

Some of his favorite memories throughout the years include serving on the ABEM test development committee and going to Winston Salem for the meetings in the Grayling House. “We would sequester in this great house for 2 days developing the test. The food was great, particularly the cheese grits for breakfast and the secret refrigerator with the ice cream bars for after-meeting snack.” Another fond memory was during an AANEM Annual Meeting. “Mike Andary rushed up to the stage to grab Jerry Herbison’s belt from the rear, like a gait belt, so he did not fall off the chair he was standing on delivering his lecture.”

Reflecting on the organization’s evolution, Dr. Kincaid shared, “It is very gratifying to see the organization evolve. It always has been and continues to be even better. The addition of neuromuscular ultrasound, the inclusion of musculoskeletal topics in our didactics, the amazing advancements in genetics of nerve and muscle disorders, and the organization’s efforts in advocacy are the most important points of progress.”

“I am very honored to receive this award,” he said. “AANEM has been my professional society home base for 43 years. The learning and professional growth opportunities the organization offered me shaped my career in a major way.”