William P. Cheshire Jr., M.D., studies autonomic disorders. The autonomic nervous system operates below the level of conscious awareness to finely tune the body's functions and response to stress. Autonomic nerves regulate the "fight or flight" response, maintain blood pressure when standing, and ensure a constant body temperature.
Dr. Cheshire's team makes use of noninvasive autonomic testing to detect and measure the failure of autonomic reflexes. They also conduct clinical trials to assess new treatments for disorders of autonomic nerves, such as small fiber neuropathy, orthostatic hypotension and progressive neurodegenerative conditions.
Dr. Cheshire's research interests also extend to neuroethics and professionalism.
- Professionalism. Promoting Mayo Clinic's primary value, "The needs of the patient come first," by articulating and championing the highest standards of professionalism and ethics among Mayo Clinic staff and trainees. Dr. Cheshire is associate director of the Program in Professionalism and Ethics at Mayo Clinic.
- Orthostatic hypotension. Advancing the accuracy of diagnosis and exploring new ways to manage blood pressure drops upon standing.
- Multiple system atrophy. Improving our ability to diagnose and treat this debilitating neurodegenerative disorder that presents with orthostatic hypotension, parkinsonism or cerebellar ataxia. Dr. Cheshire is currently engaged in a National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trial.
- Trigeminal neuralgia. Developing a clearer understanding of the underlying causes of this severe form of facial pain and identifying more effective treatments in collaboration with neurosurgery colleagues.
- Neuroethics. The ethical implications of emerging technologies and pharmacologic enhancement of cognitive capacity.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Cheshire and his team employ an evidence-based, scientific approach to investigating patients' symptoms and concerns. On the basis of a careful neurological examination and, when needed, clinical neurophysiologic testing, consultation can determine whether symptoms are due to a disorder of the nervous system and whether they indicate a serious or benign condition. His research efforts aim to advance current knowledge and discover new ways to improve and maintain patients' quality of life.
- Grievance Committee, American Academy of Neurology, 2009-present
- Chair, Autonomic Disorders Section, American Academy of Neurology, 2002-2004
- Chair, Ethics Committee, Christian Medical & Dental Associations, 2012-present
- Editorial Board, Autonomic Neuroscience, 2010-present
- Kurt Weiss Lecturer in Biomedical Ethics, University of Oklahoma School of Medicine, 2005