Fund Purpose: To advance the art of and science of pediatric neurosurgery at Children’s of Alabama and around the world.
W. Jerry Oakes, MD, FAANS(L), was born and raised in a small sleepy railroad town, DeSoto, Missouri. His parents, Marvin and Mildred Oakes, owned and operated the town’s variety store. His university education was at the University of Missouri-Columbia, graduating in 1968. He completed his medical school training in 1972 and neurosurgery residency in 1978, both at Duke University.
While a student, he came under the influence of Guy Odom and was allowed to see the potential of an academic neurosurgical career. During his residency, he spent a year in Toronto, first in neurology and then in pediatric neurosurgery at the Hospital for Sick Children, coming into contact with its stimulating faculty of Robin Humphreys, Harold Hoffman, and Bruce Hendrick. Following the completion of his residency, he spent the next year in Europe; first at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London and then in Zurich with Professor Gazi Yasargil.
Returning to Duke, he spent the next fourteen years developing the pediatric neurosurgical service. In 1992, he and his family relocated to Birmingham, Alabama and Children’s of Alabama where he served as the Hendley Professor of Pediatric Neurosurgery and Surgeon-in-Chief of the hospital. Under his tenure, the neurosurgical service quadrupled in clinical volume with four full time pediatric neurosurgeons. Throughout this time, he maintained an active clinical practice.
Along the way, he has produced more than 600 peer-reviewed papers, 60 book chapters, and edited two textbooks (The Chiari Malformations, and Occult Spinal Dysraphism). He was honored by the UAB residents with the establishment of the annual faculty teaching award in his name. He has served as president of the Neurosurgical Society of Alabama and the Southern Neurosurgical Society. In 2002, he became the editor-in-Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery and subsequently oversaw its transition into the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics appointing its first editorial board and serving as its chairman. In 2002, he was elected President of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons. For twelve years he served as a director and then vice chairman of the American Board of Pediatric Neurosurgery. The pediatric section of the AANS/CNS honored him as the eleventh recipient of the Frank Ingram medal for distinguished service to pediatric neurosurgery.
It has been his privilege to participate in the training of 28 pediatric neurosurgeons currently in practice.
He retired from clinical practice in December of 2017 and with his wife Jean, splits his time between Birmingham and his woodworking shop near Woodstock, VT.
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