Terry “Hutch” Hutchison, MD, PhD embodies the best of who we are as Child Neurologists. He is the clinician and scholar we all aspire to be, and has served the international community through providing high-quality, humanistic care to thousands of underserved children in rural Mexico for over three decades.
Hutch is a polymath. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Cal Berkeley in 1961. He worked as a rocket engineer for several years, and then went back to school to earn a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from UC Irvine in 1969 and complete a postdoctoral fellowship in Genetics at the University of Washington in 1971. He earned his M.D. from the University of Texas, Galveston in 1976, and then completed Child Neurology training at the University of California at San Francisco and UT Galveston. He is board certified in Neurology with special qualifications in Child Neurology, Pediatrics, and Clinical Genetics. He is also certified in Neurorehabilitation by the American Society of Neurorehabilitation.
Hutch has solo- or co-authored over 30 peer- reviewed original research articles, many in broad- interest journals such as Science, New England Journal of Medicine, and Nature Genetics, as well as our field’s leading journals (e.g. Annals of Neurology, Neurology, and Pediatric Neurology). Hutch’s research has spanned topics ranging from mechanisms of intracellular macromolecule synthesis in single cell organisms to neuroimaging of Leigh’s Disease, descriptions of novel neurogenetics syndromes, and quantification of risk factors for perinatal arterial stroke.
Hutch started his Child Neurology career at the University of Texas Medical Branch, and then practiced at Valley Children’s subspecialty medical group in Fresno before joining the faculty at UCSF for several years, first as associate and then full professor. He “retired” from UCSF in 2011, only to go and become the principal Child Neurologist at UCSF-Fresno. He has been the interim Chair of Neurology at UCSF-Fresno since 2016. In addition to teaching and administrative duties, outpatient clinic, and inpatient neurology care, Hutch attends on the Pediatric Rehabilitation Service 42 weeks per year. He also attends on the Neuro-Intensive Care Nursery at UCSF (in San Francisco), and in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at UCSF- Fresno.
Hutch has been an active member of the Child Neurology Society since 1979. He attends the CNS annual meeting each year, and presented a platform presentation at the 2002 meeting in Washington, D.C.
Hutch is passionate about helping people with neurological conditions in the U.S. and abroad. Since 1985, Hutch has been the Child Neurologist for Proyecto Niño, an annual week- long Pediatrics clinic in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico. Hutch is fluent in Spanish, and every year, he serves about 120 Pediatric Neurology patients during the week at no charge. In recognition of this work, he was recently named a Paul Harris Fellow by The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. This award was given to Hutch “in appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among the people of the world.”
Hutch moves mountains for his patients. In January 2017, Hutch administered the very first dose of commercially-available nusinersen in the United States. Hutch worked tirelessly with the local hospital and pharmacy to obtain the drug to treat his longtime patient’s spinal muscular atrophy within the first month nusinersen became commercially available. Remarkably, Hutch made this happen at his patient’s medical home hospital in the Central Valley of California, where resources are scarce. According to the UCSF Fresno Chief of Pediatrics Dr. Serena Yang, “He’s 200% always there for everyone in the community. Fresno has become a light for the entire world with this drug.”
Hutch is famous for his rapport with patients and their families. For example, Dr. Christian Faulkenberry-Miranda, a UCSF-Fresno pediatrics faculty member who was a trainee of Hutch’s before becoming his colleague, has “never seen a doctor where parents thank him after he gives them a devastating diagnosis about their child. He’s there for them every minute. He cries with the families and laughs with them. He sees the whole kid and he has such a humane and compassionate way.”
Hutch is always available for his patients: he gives out his cell phone number to almost every one of his patients. According to Hutch, he considers that easy accessibility a matter of physician “ownership” of patients: “When I see a patient, it’s my patient. Others may see them, of course. But I give them my cell phone and tell them I’ll always respond as I can.” Hutch’s rapport with his patients and their families is inspirational.
Hutch is beloved by his trainees and colleagues. I have known Hutch for over 10 years. We met when I was a 4th year medical student at the 2007 Child Neurology Society meeting in Quebec City. The impression he made on me was a major factor in my choosing UCSF for residency training. I was lucky to train with him at UCSF, and I have volunteered to be the second Child Neurologist for Proyecto Niño every year I’ve been able to since I finished residency. Hutch is kind, humble, and every time I interact with him, I am blown away by his intellectual abilities and depth of knowledge. Outside of medicine, Hutch has an enormous breadth of expertise and interests. For example, on the most recent Proyecto Niño, in between patients, he quoted poetry to me from memory in Nahuatl (Aztec).
Hutch will never retire. According to Dr. Peterson, one of his colleagues at UCSF Fresno, “Hutch is on his third career I think. He was going to retire, but the ink wasn’t even dried when he called and asked if he could come back. He’s one of those people we have to say ‘Go home!’ to because he’d work 24 hours a day if he could.” In Hutch’s words, “I told my wife I’ll probably retire when I can’t find my way to the office anymore. She said, ‘Oh no, I’ll drive you!’ We’ve lived together 67 years.”
In summary, Dr. Terry “Hutch” Hutchison is the quintessential Child Neurologist. He is the person we want to celebrate for his lifelong demonstration of excellence in and dedication to the care of children with neurological disorders.
Since 1985, Hutch has been the Child Neurologist for Proyecto Niño, an annual weeklong Pediatrics clinic in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico. Hutch is fluent in Spanish, and every year, he serves about 120 Pediatric Neurology patients during the week at no charge. In recognition of this work, he was recently named a Paul Harris Fellow by The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. This award was given to Hutch “in appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among the people of the world.”