NASHVILLE, Tenn. – George A. Ojemann, M.D., was presented with the 2022 Extraordinary Contributions to the Field of Epilepsy Award during the 2022 Annual Meeting of the American Epilepsy Society (AES). This award is designated for those who have made extraordinary contributions across multiple fronts, including science, education, leadership, and advocacy. The award is only presented in those years when the Board of Directors determines there is an individual whose accomplishments embody the spirit of the recognition.
Dr. Ojemann graduated from the University of Iowa with Summa Cum Laude BA and MD degrees. He moved on to an internship in Seattle, where he met Dr. Arthur Ward, a Penfield trainee who had a neurosurgical program with particular emphasis on epilepsy surgery. He was Dr. Ward’s eighth resident. Dr. Ojemann then spent two years at the Surgical Neurology Branch of the NIH where he refined the Electrical Stimulation Mapping (ESM) Technique for functional localization. He joined the University of Washington’s neurosurgical faculty where he remained for the next 40 years (1964-2005).
In the late 1960s there was little epilepsy surgery done in the U.S. Dr. Ojemann changed this by being a voice for epilepsy surgery within neurosurgery and amongst the wider public. He established an early epilepsy surgery fellowship training program, and by showing with ESM substantial variability between patients in the localization of crucial language cortex, allowed for wider safe use of resective surgery near the “eloquent” cortex. When he retired, he had performed almost 1,000 therapeutic epilepsy surgeries, and epilepsy surgery was part of standard neurosurgical training.