Fund Purpose: To fund brain tumor research.
Charles Byron Wilson, MD, FAANS(L), was born in 1929, in Neosho, Mo. His father, a pharmacist, was a prominent member of the small community of 5,000 people, where Dr. Wilson went to the local schools and was active in athletics. With the urging of a Tulane alumnus living in Neosho, he went to New Orleans in 1947 on a football scholarship. After an undistinguished season at halfback he decided to study medicine and in 1954 he was graduated first in his class from Tulane. While in school, he put his musical talent to work, playing piano in the French Quarter.
The esteemed cardiologist George Burch nearly convinced Dr. Wilson to go into internal medicine, but after an internship at Charity Hospital he spent another year studying pathology. Influenced by Dean Echols, the respected mentor of many Tulane neurosurgeons, he took his neurosurgery residency in the Tulane University-Oshner Clinic program.
After his residency, Dr. Wilson joined the Tulane faculty with joint appointments in pathology and neurosurgery. In 1961, he accepted an appointment at Louisiana State University (LSU) Medical School, where he won the Best Teacher Award in 1963 and began his research. In 1963, he moved to the new School of Medicine at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, establishing their division of neurosurgery. In 1964, the first graduating class gave him the Outstanding Clinical Instructor Award. In 1966, he was named Outstanding Clinical Professor. While at Kentucky, he pursued his research interests in malignant gliomas. By 1968, he was named full professor and his work was funded by the National Cancer Institute.
In 1968, Dr. Wilson was invited to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) as professor and chairman of the neurosurgery division to establish a laboratory for the study of brain tumors. By 1970, he had established the department of neurological surgery and Brain Tumor Research Center (BTRC), which has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1971. As director of the BTRC, Dr. Wilson realized an integrally related program of basic science and clinical research. The BTRC treats over 500 brain tumor patients each year, contributes extensively to basic and applied research in neuro-oncology, trains numerous neuro-oncologists and clinical and basic scientists in brain tumor research as well as provides continuing education and consultation for private practitioners.
Dr. Wilson’s interests spanned many other facets of neurosurgery as well. He had a special concern with pituitary disorders, having performed more than 3,100 transsphenoidal operations. Aneurysms, particularly of the posterior circulation, and arteriovenous malformations were also areas of special interest.
Dr. Wilson returned to Tulane in 1984 to receive the Outstanding Alumnus Award. In 1985, he was appointed Tong-Po Kan professor of neurological surgery at UCSF. He received numerous awards and honors and was appointed to serve on the National Cancer Advisory Board from 1992-1998. He was the Wilder Penfield Lecturer to the Canadian Congress of Neurological Sciences, Herbert Olivecrona Lecturer to the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, R. Eustace Semmes Lecturer to the Southern Neurosurgical Society, Buschke Memorial Lecturer, Honored Guest of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and Richard C. Schneider Lecturer to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. He served on the editorial boards of many journals and chaired the editorial board of the Journal of Neurosurgery from 1981-1983. He was also a principal adviser to the National Brain Tumor Foundation and served as a director of the Institute for the Future in Menlo Park, Calif.
Dr. Wilson passed away on February 24, 2018.
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