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Daniel Ian Kaufer, MD, a professor in the department of neurology for 17 years, passed away on July 2 after a brief battle with cancer. Dr. Kaufer was a masterful clinician, prolific researcher, passionate advocate and beloved mentor. A memorial is set for July 23.

The UNC School of Medicine community is deeply saddened by the passing of Daniel I. Kaufer, MD, who died July 2 from cancer. Dr. Kaufer was the founding director of the UNC Memory Disorders Program and the chief of the Memory and Cognitive Disorders Division within the Department of Neurology.

Dr. Kaufer received a Bachelor of Science degree cum laude in molecular biology and zoology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he also received his Doctor of Medicine degree. He then completed his neurology residency training at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and a fellowship training in behavioral and geriatric neurology at the University of California at Los Angeles.

For several years, Dr. Kaufer served as a faculty member of the neurology and psychiatry departments at UPMC. In 2003, he joined the Department of Neurology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an associate professor and founding director of the UNC Memory Disorders Program. Broadening his professional scope, he also joined the Department of Psychiatry as an associate professor in 2012.

Earning an international reputation in the treatment of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Kaufer published over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, review papers and book chapters. His research focused on developing novel clinical tools for improving the diagnosis and treatment of degenerative dementias, and he was renowned for his work on frontotemporal degeneration and Lewy body dementia. As a translational cognitive neurologist, he worked to facilitate the transfer of neurocognitive disorder research into practice.

Dr. Kaufer received many honors and distinctions over the course of his career including election as a fellow into the American Academy of Neurology and the American Neuropsychiatric Association, and as President of the Society for Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology. He played an essential role in the development of the Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry (BNNP) subspecialty accredited by the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties (UCNS), and served for many years on the UCNS BNNP Examination Writing Committee. He also served on the Scientific Advisory Council of the Lewy Body Dementia Association, the International FTD Registry Scientific Advisory Board, and the Alzheimer’s North Carolina Board of Directors.

Dr. Kaufer was deeply devoted to patient and family care. He recognized that patients with memory disorders put severe stress on family caregivers, and through his clinical research as well as advocacy, he sought to improve the experience of family caregivers as well as the loved ones they cared for. He strove to destigmatize neurocognitive disorders, and raise awareness about what causes them in order to empower people to keep their brains active and healthy.

In addition to his academic and clinical work, a generation of devoted trainees in neurology, psychiatry and beyond learned the importance of understanding patients from a neuropsychiatric perspective as a result of Dr. Kaufer’s mentorship.

The UNC Department of Neurology will hold a virtual memorial service in honor of Dr. Kaufer on Thursday, July 23 at 6 p.m. If you would like to attend, please register to receive login information for the event.

Gifts in honor of Dr. Kaufer and his work may be made online at Checks should be made payable to the UNC Health Foundation. Please note on the check that it is a memorial for the Daniel I. Kaufer Memory Disorders Fund. Donations may be sent to the UNC Health Foundation, 123 W. Franklin Street, Suite 510, Chapel Hill, NC 27516. If you have questions, please contact Aron Johnson, UNC Department of Neurology at (910) 409-2973 or

An obituary for Dr. Kaufer was published in the News & Observer. Condolences may be shared at