In Memoriam: Edward H. Oldfield, MD, FACS

In Memoriam: Edward H. Oldfield, MD, FACS

The CNS expresses its sincerest condolences on the passing of a pillar of the neurosurgical community, Dr. Edward H. Oldfield. 

Dr. Oldfield was born in 1947 in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. He completed his graduate education at the University of Kentucky, and  two years of basic surgical residency at Vanderbilt University. He then spent a year in neurology in London at The National Hospital for Nervous Disease before completing neurosurgical residency at Vanderbilt University. After a year in private neurosurgical practice in Lexington, he completed a two-year fellowship in cellular immunology of tumors at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). From 1984-2007 he was Chief of the Clinical Neurosurgery Section, Surgical Neurology Branch, NINDS, and from 1986-2007 was the Chief of the Surgical Neurology Branch.

At the NIH he led successful laboratory and clinical research efforts in the areas of brain and pituitary tumors, syringomyelia, von Hippel-Lindau disease, spinal arteriovenous malformations, pathophysiology and therapy of cerebral vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage, and development of new drug delivery approaches for the central nervous system.

He joined the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Virginia in 2007 where he held the Crutchfield Chair in Neurosurgery and was a Professor of Neurosurgery and Internal Medicine. He led multidisciplinary efforts in the treatment of pituitary tumors and contributed to the research program in the Department of Neurosurgery at UVA. He enjoyed every aspect of his career and often said it never felt like work. Many of his former fellows hold positions in academic medicine, including several departmental chairmen.

Dr. Oldfield was the author of over 500 original scientific and clinical contributions to medical literature and the co-inventor of patents on convection-enhanced drug delivery and genetic therapy. His contributions to academic and organized neurosurgery include membership on the editorial boards of Neurosurgery and the Journal of Neurosurgery, where he completed a term of eight years as associate editor.

Dr. Oldfield served as vice president and president of the Society of Neurological Surgeons (SNS). He received numerous awards, including the Public Health Superior Service Award, the Grass Medal for Meritorious Research in Neurological Science (SNS), the Farber Award (AANS), the Distinguished Alumnus Award, University of Kentucky Medical Alumni Association, the Harvey Cushing Medal (AANS), the first (2013) annual AANS Cushing Award for Technical Excellence and Innovation in Neurosurgery. In 2015, he received the Charles B. Wilson Award of the Joint Tumor Section for “for career achievement and substantial contributions to understanding and treatment of brain tumors.”

Dr. Oldfield served as the Honored Guest as the 2016 CNS Annual Meeting.

Dr. Oldfield married Susan Wachs of Lexington, Kentucky, in 1974. They are the proud parents of Caroline (1989). He preferred outdoor activities, and made lifelong hobbies out of hiking, birdwatching, photography and especially fly fishing, which provided the kind of peace he treasured in his limited free time. Dr. Oldfield made learning a priority in every adventure, particularly in his passion for travel. He was one continent short of making his way around the world, and had been planning a trip to Antarctica shortly before his illness progressed. He had a great appetite for adventure as long as it included variety and history, always striving to understand the way the world around him came together, and was most happy sharing those things with the people he loved; his wife, Susan, and his daughter, Caroline. 

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