Gary W. Mathern, MD, to be honored for lifetime accomplishments in epilepsy at the American Epilepsy Society’s Annual Meeting

Gary W. Mathern, MD, will receive the William G. Lennox Award for lifetime accomplishments in epilepsy from the American Epilepsy Society. The award will be presented during the society’s annual meeting in Houston, Tex., December 2-5.

Dr. Mathern holds the Dr. Alfonsina Q. Davies Endowed Chair for Epilepsy Research in Honor of Paul Crandall, MD at the University of California, Los Angeles where he also serves as the neurosurgical director of pediatric epilepsy surgery program. He is internationally recognized for advancements in epilepsy research. He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters that address clinical and basic science aspects of pediatric epilepsy surgery, including newer imaging techniques, improving surgical techniques, long-term outcomes and rehabilitation using neuroplasticity. His laboratory research has characterized genomic abnormalities, neuroanatomy and cellular properties in cortical dysplasia, Rasmussen Encephalitis, and other etiologies related to epilepsy surgery in children.

Mathern is one of the few U.S. neurosurgeons who specializes in treating hemimegalencephaly, a rare but devastating condition in which an infant is born with half of its brain lopsidedly larger than the other half. The condition provokes complex seizures that do not respond to medication, and the cause is unknown.

He pioneered the lateral hemispherectomy, a radical technique in which surgeons remove the dysfunctional half of the patient’s brain causing the seizures. Now used internationally, the procedure helps halt seizures in infants and children with rare seizure disorders.

His TEDx talk, “What Can You Do with Half a Brain?” spotlights hemispherectomy patients who became seizure-free after the surgery and grew up to ride bikes, drive and graduate from high school.

“My ultimate goal is to put myself out of business,” Mathern says. “We must find new ways to stop seizures without removing large parts of the brain. My dream is to never have to operate on another child again.”

His passion for research began during his residency in the laboratory of Thomas L. Babb, PhD. He has been recognized with a Milken Family Foundation Young Investigator Award in 1991, the James A. Shannon Director’s Award from NIH in 1998, and a Clinical Investigator Development Award (K08) in 1993.

Dr. Mathern serves the epilepsy community through appointments with the American Epilepsy Society, National Institutes for Health, and the Epilepsy Foundation. He is one of the editors-in-chief of Epilepsia and Epilepsia Open from the International League Against Epilepsy.

Dr. Mathern graduated from Morehead State University in Kentucky summa cum laude with a dual major in biology and chemistry. He received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and completed his neurosurgery residency at UCLA, followed by a clinical neurophysiology/epilepsy fellowship under Jerome Engel, Jr. He has been on the UCLA neurosurgery faculty since 1992.

The William G. Lennox Award was established in 1966 to recognize members of the American Epilepsy Society who have a record of lifetime contributions and accomplishments related to epilepsy. The award is funded by the Lennox and Lombroso Trust Fund, established in 1962 to advance and disseminate knowledge concerning epilepsy in all of its aspects – biological, clinical and social – and to promote better care and treatment for persons with epilepsy. The award includes a $10,000 honorarium. The award will be presented to Dr. Mathern on Monday December 5, at 8:45 a.m.

About the American Epilepsy Society
Founded in 1946, the American Epilepsy Society (AES) is a medical and scientific society whose members are dedicated to advancing research and education for preventing, treating and curing epilepsy. AES is an inclusive global forum where professionals from academia, private practice, not-for-profit, government and industry can learn, share and grow to eradicate epilepsy and its consequences.

For more information, visit the American Epilepsy Society online at Join the AES Annual Meeting social conversation today by following @AmEpilepsySoc on Twitter and using the hashtag #AES2016.