Albert L. Rhoton, Jr.
1978, Washington DC
Albert L. Rhoton, Jr. was born November 18, 1932, in Parvin, Kentucky. He graduated from Washington University School of Medicine, cure laude, with the highest academic standing in the class of 1959. As a medical student, he did research on the trigeminal nerve and on cerebellar electrophysiology.
He had 2 years of training at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, one year in general surgery and 1 year in neurological surgery. He returned to Washington University and Barnes Hospital where he completed his neurosurgery residency with Dr. Henry Schwartz in 1965. He stayed at Washington University for 1 year as a research fellow in neuroanatomy. At this time he began to use the microscope for his research work and immediately saw that it would be very useful for work in human neurosurgery.
In January 1966, Dr. Rhoton went to the Mayo Clinic where he served as a consultant and staff neurosurgeon, and began his microanatomical studies of human material that are now so widely published. In 1972, he assumed the position of professor of surgery and chief of the Division of Neurological Surgery at the University of Florida College of Medicine. The Division was awarded departmental status and he became the R.D. Keene Family Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery in 1981. His departmental associates, under his guidance, have grown to be recognized as authorities in the subspecialties. He has obtained funds for eight $1 million endowed chairs in neurosurgery at the University of Florida.
Dr. Rhoton became a member of the Executive Committee of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) in 1972 and rose to presidency of the Congress in 1978. He served as annual meeting chairman in 1973. A major goal during his presidency was to strengthen the relationship of the national and state neurosurgical societies. In pursuit of this goal, the first of a series of annual meetings between officers of the state and national neurosurgical societies was held in 1978 in Washington, D.C. at the Congress Meeting over which he presided. He also played a key role in the founding of the Joint Section on the Spine of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and CNS. During the time that he was president of the Congress, there was a tremendous surge of interest in cerebrovascular surgery and at that time he served as chairman of the Joint Section on Cerebrovascular Surgery. Dr. Charles Drake of London, Ontario served as the honored guest at the 1978 meeting in Washington, D.C. At that time, Dr. Rhoton experienced a gnawing discomfort because cerebrovascular and intracranial surgery overshadowed spinal neurosurgery. As president of the Congress, he expressed these concerns and proposed the development of a spine section which was later approved by both the AANS and CNS and eventually became one of the strongest Joint Sections.
Dr. Rhoton has earned numerous honors and awards throughout his career. He served as president of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons in 1990 and as vice chairman of the American Board of Neurological Surgery in 1991. Washington University School of Medicine recognized his many accomplishments by awarding him an Alumni Achievement Award in 1984. He has been the honored guest or honorary member of 16 neurosurgical societies throughout the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
He organized a microsurgery course in Gainesville, Florida that has been attended by more than 1000 practicing physicians and residents. The University of Florida recognized his service by giving him the Distinguished Faculty Award in 1981. He has served on the editorial boards of six journals.
Dr. Rhoton has been supported and greatly aided by his wife, Joyce. Their two sons are resident physicians, one in internal medicine and the other in neurosurgery. Their two daughters are also in medicine, one as a pediatric nurse and the other as a resident in obstetrics and gynecology.