Lives of the fellows

Fritz Emanuel Dreifuss

b.20 January 1926 d.18 October 1997
MB ChB Otago(1950) FRCP(1980)

Fritz E Dreifuss was the Thomas E Worrell Jr professor of epileptology and neurology at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Centre and director of the comprehensive epilepsy programme. His main activities included neurological teaching, research, and patient care with a large outreach component. Virtually all anti-epileptic drugs were evaluated at some time during their development by Dreifuss. In addition, he pioneered the use of EEG telemetry in clinical practice and was instrumental in establishing the comprehensive epilepsy centre model that exists throughout the world. His dedication to the profession is evidenced by the local, national and international epileptologists who were taught at the University of Virginia.

He was born in Dresden, Germany, to Alfred Dreifuss and Erika Ballin, and attended the Wanganui Collegiate School in New Zealand and the University of Otago, where he received his medical degrees. He was then a graduate student at the National Hospital Queen Square, London, prior to joining the University of Virginia in 1959.

A Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the American Academy of Neurology and the American Neurological Association, he was president of the American Epilepsy Society, the Epilepsy Foundation of America, and the International League Against Epilepsy. He was appointed to the Commission for the Control of Epilepsy and Its Consequences. Under his leadership the International Classification of Epilepsies and Epileptic Syndromes became a part of clinical practice world-wide.

He was the recipient of many awards including the Milken family research award of the American Epilepsy Society, the Hans-Berger award, the Epilepsy Foundation of America 25th anniversary award, the Lennox award and the Ciba-Geigy lifetime achievement award. He wrote over three hundred publications including papers, books and journals.

He was not only recognized for his international contributions, but also loved and respected by his patients and those who worked with him. He will be remembered for his humanity, quick wit, and respect for his fellow man. In recognition of his commitment to his patients and his passion for improving their lives, his colleagues have renamed the programme he created the F E Dreifuss comprehensive epilepsy programme at the University of Virginia.

C J Earl

(Volume X, page 116)

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