On April 13, 2016, Neurocore announced the hiring of its first Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Majid Fotuhi.
But the news release neglected to mention Fotuhi's 2015 gig as the head of the now-defunct NeurExpand Brain Center.
Launched as a Maryland limited liability corporation on March 1, 2013, NeurExpand Brain Center LLC raised over $4.0 million in an April 10, 2014 private placement transaction. (A private placement is a securities offering exempt from registration with the SEC, although NeurExpand filed an SEC Form D.)
After first opening a clinic in Lutherville, Maryland and a 6,000 square foot facility in nearby Columbia, NeurExpand later opened its Friendship Heights center in Chevy Chase, Maryland on August 12, 2014.
Fotuhi, 53, is something of a rock star in the world of neurology, according to a 2014 profile in the Baltimore Sun. Majid Fotuhi, MD, PhD, received his MD (cum laude) from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard Medical School in Boston and his PhD in neurosciences from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
He has appeared on numerous television shows, from “The Dr. Oz Show” to PBS, and authored many articles and three books on memory and the brain, including his recent, “Boost Your Brain: The New Art & Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance.”
Fotuhi’s NeurExpand centers operated on a few key premises—all of them, he said in 2014, rooted in research. One is that the hippocampus, a thumb-sized part of the brain’s cerebral cortex important to short-term memory, naturally shrinks with age (an average of .5 percent a year after age 50). Another is that memory loss and Alzheimer’s can be the result of many different factors, not just the brain-ravaging toxins that most potential cures for Alzheimer’s focus on, but also insufficient sleep, anxiety, depression, strokes, concussions, poor diet, lack of exercise. Another Fotuhi premise was that with proper treatment, shrinkage of the hippocampus, and thus a person’s memory loss, could be reversed.
Established in Howard County, Maryland, for its large and growing senior population, the brain center had a staff of about 15, including a clinical team composed of board-certified neurologists, neuropsychologists who oversaw the “Brain Fitness” program and served as “brain coaches,” conducting cognitive assessments, neurology technicians who perform brain mapping, and exercise physiologists who provide fitness assessments and nutrition guidance.
Fotuhi and his investors targeted what should have been an extremely lucrative location.
One of the statistics that came out of the 2010 United States Census was that Howard County, Maryland, had a rapidly aging population. While baby boomers have been aging the United States population in general, the aging in Howard County was exaggerated because of the large influx of young families into the county in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Between 2010-2025, it was predicted the percentage of residents 55 and older would increase to about 30% of the total population.
So what happened?
And it had the cooperation and support of the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, which praised NeurExpand's “comprehensive medical program to strengthen the brain against cognitive decline and memory loss” in an August 12, 2014 news release.
What happened was a dispute with Medicare, which “reviewed the practice’s clinical program and determined there wasn’t enough scientific evidence to support the treatments offered. In September, Medicare stopped reimbursing the practice for the services it provided. At that time, costs for between 50 percent and 60 percent of the patients were paid through Medicare”, according to a March 18, 2015 report in Bethesda Magazine.
Within weeks of opening its Chevy Chase location, NeurExpand shuttered the clinic. In addition, it also closed the Columbia and Lutherville locations.
Medicare demanded that NeurExpand pay back the entire amount that Medicare paid for treatments at the center, but Fotuhi would not say how much that was.
“I feel like Medicare did not treat us well,” Fotuhi told Bethesda Magazine.
Lawyers representing NeurExpand sent a letter to Medicare shortly after it shut down, offering to provide the program with the money the business has left in its accounts receivable.
“I hope Medicare will be kind to us,” Fotuhi commented.
In the wake of its demise, NeurExpand Brain Centers, LLC was sued and settled various six-figure amounts (ranging from $102,738 to $535,000 for the breach of a lease).
I've sent a media inquiry to the U. S. Center For Medicare & Medicaid's press office—but I'm not holding my breath waiting for an answer!
But back to Dr. Fotuhi: he's turned away from America's again population and is now focusing on another, even more vulnerable, population: school children.
And it's a much bigger market, especially when you have America's next EduSheriff as your financial backer.