Anne M. Connolly, MD , Pediatric Neurology Attending Physician, SLCH Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics, WUSM
Neuromuscular fellowship: Washington University School of Medicine
Research fellowship: NIH Developmental Neurology Training Grant
Child neurology fellowship: St. Louis Children’s Hospital (SLCH) Neurology residency (adult): Barnes Hospital Pediatric chief residency: SLCH Pediatric residency: SLCH
Medical degree: Indiana University, Indianapolis
Dr. Connolly became a physician because of a brief conversation in 1978 with Rosalyn Yalow, PhD, the second American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Having loved science from the time she was a little girl, Dr. Connolly’s goal was to conduct research that would move science forward in a meaningful way. Dr. Yalow advised that the best way she could do that was to become a physician researcher. Then, during a medical school rotation in pediatric neurology, Dr. Connolly found a field that satisfied her fascination with physiology and her desire to improve the quality of children’s lives.
“The things that can go well and can go wrong in the development of an infant and young child were absolutely fascinating to me. And the idea that we might be able to change some of those things that go wrong held great appeal,” she says. “There are times you can intervene and improve a child’s development and quality of life, give them the ability to do what most of us take for granted—smile, eat, walk, talk, laugh, dream, grow up, fall in love, get married—all of those elements that really are our own humanness. I just did not see any other field that was so compelling.”
Dr. Connolly specializes in disorders that cause neuromuscular weakness in children. In particular, she has done extensive research into understanding and treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Dr. Connolly devoted more than 10 years to working with mouse models of neuromuscular disorders. She now conducts treatment trials and natural history studies for this group of pediatric patients.
“I also am deeply invested in promoting newborn screening so that we can treat some of these disorders earlier in life,” says Dr. Connolly. “Some disorders like Duchenne’s may not show up until the age of 5, but they’ve already caused a lot of damage in that short time. We are coming closer to developing a cure for Duchenne’s, and when that happens it will be easier to show the worth of screening newborns.”
Dr. Connolly serves on the International Standard of Care Committee for treatment of children with spinal muscular atrophy and as a committee member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Diagnostic Expert Group for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. She is a member of the editorial board and an associate editor for the Journal of Child Neurology and is an invited reviewer for a number of other journals. She is the author of more than 70 peer-reviewed publications.
Dr. Connolly has appeared on the Best Doctors in America listing for more than a decade. She has received a number of awards, among them the St. Mary’s College Alumni Achievement Award, the Washington University Neurology Teacher of the Year and, most recently, a 2017 Washington University Distinguished Clinician Award.
“I am proud of my care of children and their families, and it is an honor to receive this award,” she says. “As a teacher, there have been a number of fine physicians at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University who have influenced me, among them Drs. Jim Keating, Mike Noetzel, Jean Thurston and Alan Pestronk.”
Dr. Connolly and Charles Cashner have four children: Caitlin, an architect in Boston; Colin, an engineer; Conor, a senior at Washington University; and Cormac, a junior at Xavier University in Cincinnati.
Dr. Connolly regularly volunteers at the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s summer camp and with the Washington University medical mission program in Catacamus, Honduras. She enjoys gardening, biking and sewing on a 100-year-old pedal sewing machine.