Department of Neurosurgery Professor W. Jerry Oakes, M.D., has been named a distinguished professor at UAB, one of the highest honors bestowed on a faculty member.
The rank of distinguished professor, approved by the Board of Trustees, Chancellor and President, was created to honor faculty with extraordinary achievements including extensive peer recognition, unstinting dedication to standards of excellence in all endeavors, and exemplary character and integrity reflecting great honor upon UAB.
Oakes received an outpouring of international support from the neurosurgery community when the department submitted him for consideration of distinguished professor.
Not only did the submission contain several letters of remarkable support from Oakes’ UAB and Children’s of Alabama colleagues, but his distinction was supported by faculty from across the North America, including departments of neurosurgery at the University of Wisconsin, University of Iowa and the University of Toronto. He is known not only as a thought leader but also as an innovator in the field of Pediatric Neurosurgeon, and has received international recognition for his work in Chiari malformation, syringomyelia, and spina bifida.
Oakes is the Dan Hendley Professor of Pediatrics and Neurosurgery in the department. In 2016, Oakes retired from clinical practice but still maintains a very active academic and research presence.
Throughout his 28-year career, Oakes has raised the national prominence of the department, Children’s of Alabama and UAB, building a successful division of pediatric neurosurgery that consisted of five pediatric neurosurgeons with established academic careers.
In 2017, Oakes received the Franc Ingraham metal for distinguished service and achievement from the pediatric section of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. This acknowledgement is the highest recognition in the field and has only been awarded 12 times in the past 37 years.
“Dr. Oakes has demonstrated extraordinary excellence in clinical service, research and education during the 25 years I have worked with him,” said James Markert, M.D., MPH, chair of the UAB Department of Neurosurgery. “He is extremely deserving of this high honor.”
Oakes has been recognized by his peers nationally with nominations and appointments to leadership positions, including the Presidency of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgery, the Accreditation Council of Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowships, and the Head of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Neurosurgery-Pediatrics. He is also a long-time member of the Children’s of Alabama Board of Trustees.
Oaks has been a mentor, leader and teacher to many residents and fellows during their training at UAB. According to Jeffrey Blount, M.D., director of the UAB Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery, more than 20 fellows and eight faculty members in pediatric neurosurgery sought training and practice experience under the Oakes paradigm.
The Department of Neurosurgery’s annual teaching award given by the neurosurgery residents carries Dr. Oakes’ name, as the inaugural recipient.
“Most of his trainees have gone on to become leaders in pediatric neurosurgery,” said Blount. “All have attained board certification in pediatric neurosurgery–the highest rate of any fellowship in North America–and there are 10 division heads or named chairs in pediatric neurosurgery amongst Dr. Oakes' trainees.”
Oakes has authored or co-authored more than 445 publications in medical literature, with seven additional manuscripts in press, and he is the lead editor of the definitive work on Chiari malformations, which is aptly titled “The Chiari Malformations.” This work is now in its second edition.
“He may be perhaps the single greatest contributor to our current concept of the neurosurgical care of patients with Chiari malformations,” said Markert. “However, he is not simply a clinical research scientist, but an accomplished clinician whose care has been sought by parents from across the country and overseas due to his acknowledged surgical expertise.”
Oakes will be presented with his distinguished professor resolution during a small reception in July.
"It was a privilege to help care for many brave children and their families with difficult and stressful medical problems,” said Oakes. “Children with serious illnesses are the true heroes of health care.”