Dr. Charness earned his B.Sc. in Psychology from McGill University (1972) and his M.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1976). He served as resident in Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital (1976-78). He was resident and Chief Resident in Neurology (1978-81) and postdoctoral fellow in Neuroscience (1981-83) at the University of California, San Francisco (1981-83). He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Neurology.
Dr. Charness came to the VA as a staff neurologist in 1989 and served as Chief of Neurology at the Brockton-West-Roxbury VA (1996-1999) and the VA Boston Healthcare System (1999-2003). He became Chief of Staff in 2003. He is Professor of Neurology and Faculty Associate Dean at Harvard Medical School and Assistant Dean at Boston University School of Medicine. Currently, Dr. Charness serves as a member of the National Advisory Council of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and on the Board of Directors of the International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism (2002-2010). He is a past president of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA). He was awarded the Frank Seixas Award of RSA (1999) and a MERIT Award from NIAAA (2002). He was a member and Chair of the Alcohol-Toxicology 3 Study Section, NIH (1997-2000) and Chair of the Medical Advisory Council, Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation. His laboratory, with support from NIH and the VA, studies the mechanisms of alcohol toxicity in the nervous system and the development of drugs that block alcohol toxicity. He has cared for patients with neurological complications of alcoholism and peripheral nerve disorders throughout his career.