Robert G. Ojemann
1976, New Orleans
Dr. Robert G. Ojemann was born in Iowa City, Iowa on May 5, 1931. He graduated from the University of Iowa with highest distinction and from its medical school in 1955 where he ranked first in his class. Shortly after graduation he married Jean Munson and they had four boys who have degrees in electrical engineering or computer science.
From his early years he enjoyed projects using his hands and knew he wanted to be a surgeon. Interest in the nervous system probably came from the influence of his father, a professor in the child psychology department at the University of Iowa. This interest was solidified by an externship in neurology at the end of his freshman year when he came under the influence of Adolph Sahs, Robert Utterback, and the chief resident at that time, Robert Joynt. This also provided his first introduction to research.
Realizing that he wanted to go into neurosurgery, he decided to take a rotating internship at the Cincinnati General Hospital to obtain a broad background in all aspects of medicine. Needing a year of general surgery he entered Dr. Michael DeBakey's program in Houston where he had an interesting and rewarding year of training.
On July 1, 1957 he entered the neurosurgical residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) where he came under the influence of neurosurgeons James C. White, William Sweet, and H. Thomas Ballantine and the neurologists C. Miller Fisher, Raymond D. Adams, and Maurice Victor. After completing residency in 1961, he remained on the staff advancing to the rank of professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and visiting neurosurgeon at the MGH. He was elected to a term as chairman of the staff associates, served 3 years on the General Executive Committee of the hospital, and has been a member of several hospital Committees.
Over the years at the MGH he has enjoyed teaching a group of outstanding residents and working with a superb staff. His publications include over 150 articles and two books that centered in the earlier years on his interest in cerebrovascular disease. More recently his clinical activities have been directed toward benign tumors particularly acoustic neuromas and meningiomas. He has been asked to give numerous invited lectures and has been a visiting professor at many institutions.
His first job with the Congress came when John Shillito approached him to be an assistant editor for Clinical Neurosurgery. Subsequently, he became the editor of that publication. Later Bill Mosberg asked him to be nominated for the Executive Committee and he remained on that committee for 11 years including a 3-year term as secretary.
During his presidential year in 1975 to 1976 the first joint officers meeting between the Congress and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) was held, plans were finalized for publication of Neurosurgery, and the Washington Committee became a reality. The years on the Congress Executive Committee were both challenging and rewarding. Friendships were made that continue to this day. As he looks back on that era he believes that the opportunity for the young neurosurgeon to be active in national affairs is an important strength for neurosurgery in this country.
In 1977 he began a 6-year term on the American Board of Neurological Surgery serving as chairman in 1982 to 1983. His term on the Board of Directors of the AANS started in 1982 and he was president of the Association in 1986 to 1987. A highlight of the term was a ceremony at the White House where President Ronald Reagan announced the printing of a stamp to honor Harvey Cushing. Subsequently, he was president of the American Academy of Neurological Surgeons and of the Society of Neurological Surgeons.
Membership in other medical organizations include the Massachusetts Medical Society, American Medical Association, American College of Surgeons, and the New England Neurosurgical Society. He was a founding member and served as president of the Society of University Neurosurgeons.
Nonmedical interests include spending time with the family, stamp collecting, hiking, landscaping, carpentry work, and tennis. In addition he has served as a deacon in his church and both he and his wife feel a strong commitment to their beliefs. He has often stated that he feels most fortunate to have had a rewarding and interesting life.