Neuroscientist Earl Walker Dead at 87, Pioneer in Understanding Human Brain A. Earl Walker, an internationally renowned neurosurgeon and neuroscientist and the former chairman of the Division of Neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, died Sunday, Jan. 1, of an apparent heart attack while driving with his wife in New Mexico. He was 87. Dr. Walker's former colleagues and students described him as a pioneer in understanding the human brain and one of the most innovative neurological researchers and teachers in modern medicine. "He was such an important figure in neurosurgery," said Donlin Long, professor and chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at the School of Medicine. "He had a hand in educating an entire generation of neurosurgeons. He was the ultimate professor, always knowledgeable, always teaching, always reaching for more." Dr. Walker published more than 400 research papers and eight books, including the 1938 study The Primate Thalamus, which Dr. Long described as "one of the most important works of the mid-century" for understanding the function of the human brain. Dr. Walker was known as a quiet, humble, disciplined man of integrity who taught by example and who challenged and encouraged those who worked with him. Although considered difficult to approach by some, others found him patient and encouraging. "He intimidated some people, made some people afraid because he was always right," said George B. Udvarhelyi, professor emeritus of neurosurgery at the School of Medicine. "But he was very shy and helpful. His relentless pursuit of excellence deeply impressed all those who had the opportunity to work with him." Born in 1907 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Dr. Walker received his medical degree from the University of Alberta in 1930. He accepted the position of professor of neurological surgery at Hopkins in 1947, and during his 25-year tenure established the Division of Neurosurgery and initiated training in neurosurgery, neuropathology, electroencephalography, neuroradiology, neurophysiology, neuroanatomy and, to some extent, neurology. He also established the formal resident training program in neurosurgery with an emphasis on research and medical scholarship. His groundbreaking experiments with epilepsy provided the framework for subsequent research in that area. "His greatest contribution was insisting on research in neurosurgery and neurology in general," Dr. Long said. The Electrophys-iology Laboratories at Hopkins, established by Dr. Walker, were dedicated in his name in 1993. Symposia were held last fall in his honor at Hopkins and the University of New Mexico, where he had just retired from a full-time position. He was professor emeritus at both universities. Until his death, he maintained an active schedule of professional activities, including teaching, research and international travel. "His crucial role in the development of the neurosciences will stand the test of time," said Michael E. Johns, dean of the School of Medicine. Dr. Walker is survived by his wife, Agnes Marshall Walker, of Albuquerque; two daughters; and a son. A memorial service will be held at Hopkins, although a date has not yet been set. Memorial gifts honoring Dr. Walker may be sent to Donna Frithsen, Fund for Johns Hopkins Medicine, 1620 McElderry St., Baltimore, Md. 21205-1911.
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