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A Trio Lost

Jeffery A. Williams, M.D., 1951-2002.

One of the world's foremost radiosurgeons-he was the only physician to be certified by both the American Board of Neurological Surgery and the American Board of Radiation Oncology-Jeffery Williams developed an entirely new system of implantable brain tumor treatments that, unlike more invasive procedures, spared the surrounding healthy brain. A 1977 graduate of the School of Medicine, Williams began his full-time career at Hopkins in 1993. The following year, he was promoted to assistant professor of neurosurgery and oncology, and named director of stereotactic radiosurgery. He became an associate professor in 2000.

I've been here six years and worked for Dr. Williams all that time. He was really bright, and clever at a lot of things. He did the stereotactic radiosurgery Web site all on his own; he spent a huge amount of time getting it right.

He would respond to all the patients who contacted him by e-mail. They'd write to him from all over the world with questions and he tried to respond to every one. Then he set up patient support groups online and told people about them.

At first he did conventional surgery, but then around 1998, he stopped that to specialize in radiosurgery. Because it's not something most patients have heard about, he had a lot of explaining to do. That's why he created the Web site. I guess you could say he was driven, but after you worked with him a while, you could see he really loved what he did.

He'd often walk the patients to the elevators when they were finished with an appointment. He'd stand by them during their treatment and talk to them when he could. A lot of his patients were devoted to him.

He was very quiet and kept himself to himself. He'd close his door and you'd hear him typing on the computer. He'd answer literally thousands of patient e-mails in a year. With him, the patient was first, and sometimes, if someone wanted something administrative from him or something that immediately took away from his patient time, he was slow to act and could be abrupt. People could misunderstand and think he was less than helpful, but he didn't move from that dedication to the patient.

People told me he's probably the leading doctor for radiosurgery of acoustic neuromas. It's taking a lot of us to pick up the slack. There was the radiosurgery, the Web site, all the e-mail contact with patients, his research, the database he kept, all the films he reviewed for free-hundreds of them. And he'd pride himself on getting back to patients who'd sent the films within 24 hours. Big shoes to fill. I'm triaging his work, dividing it up among Dr. [Daniele] Rigamonti and Dr. [Lawrence] Kleinberg.

We never had any sign anything was wrong. I was devastated when I heard. I still feel bad. Since his death, we've gotten hundreds of e-mails, letters and visits from patients. We're still getting them. They're all shocked and sorry.

Tammy Cuda
Secretary to Jeffery Williams

Frederick J. Montz, M.D.   David A. Nagey, M.D., Ph.D.   Jeffery A. Williams, M.D.


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