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  • Keiji Sano

    1982, Toronto, ON, Canada

    Dr. Keiji Sano was born on June 30, 1920, in the quiet and scenic town of Fujinomiya in Shizuoka Prefecture which lies at the foot of Mt. Fuji, about 100 kilometers to the west of Tokyo. He was the first son of Dr. and Mrs. Takeo Sano. His father was a well-known surgeon. After Dr. Sano graduated from high school there, he entered the University of Tokyo Faculty of Medicine, from which he graduated with his M.D. degree in 1945.

    Because there was no internship in Japan, he joined the First Surgical Department of the University of Tokyo to receive postgraduate training in general surgery from Professor Ohtsuki. Neurosurgery in Japan originated from this department of surgery through the efforts of Kentaro Shimizu (1903-). Dr. Shimizu first joined the Department of Psychiatry after graduating from the University of Tokyo in 1929, but when two of his patients died from mis° diagnosed brain tumors, he changed his mind and became a neurosurgeon. In 1932, he joined the First Surgical Department. When Dr. Sano joined the Department, Dr. Shimizu was actively practicing neurosurgery as an associate professor of surgery.

    In 1948, Dr. Shimizu became the professor and chairman of the First Surgical Department and, thereafter, Dr. Sano specialized in neurosurgery. In 1948 he published several papers on the techniques of percutaneous cerebral angiography. In 1951, he was awarded a degree of Doctor of Medical Science (D.M.Sc.); which corresponds to a Ph.D. in medicine. Dr. Sano obtained a fellowship from the Ministry of Education of Japan to study neurosurgery with Drs. Naffziger and Boldrey at the University of California at San Francisco and neuropathology with Dr. Nathan Malmud from 1951 to 1952.

    Dr. Sano was promoted to lecturer and chief of the outpatient clinic of neurosurgery in 1955 and then to associate professor of neurosurgery at the Institute of Brain Research, University of Tokyo Faculty of Medicine, in 1957. In the same year he was married to his wife, Sumako. In 1962 the Japanese Government first approved and opened an independent department of neurosurgery at the University of Tokyo and appointed Dr. Sano as the first professor and chairman of the department. Later in the same year, another department of neurosurgery was approved at Niigata University where Dr. Komei Ueki was appointed as the professor and chairman. Drs. Sano and Ueki, pioneering neurosurgeons, worked continuously for almost half a century until neurosurgery was officially recognized as a definite independent discipline of clinical medicine. An additional 10 years were necessary until the Japanese government decided to open a department of neurosurgery in every national university hospital.

    In 1948, the first meeting on neurosurgical research was held at Niigata, and after seven meetings, the Japan Neurosurgical Society was organized in 1952. In 1965, Dr. Sano was elected the president of the Japan Neurosurgical Society. In addition to being the secretary for the society for 20 years of his professorship, he devoted his entire professional life not only to his own neurosurgical research at the University of Tokyo but also to the development of neurosurgery throughout Japan by establishing a standardized postgraduate training curriculum for neurosurgery.

    The Japanese Board of Neurosurgery was organized in 1966 with regulations on training curriculum and training institutes; Dr. Sano was the chairman of the board from 1967 to 1973 and again from 1979 to 1980. He was also the president of the Japanese Association for Research in Stereo-Encephalotomy in 1966, president of the Asian and Australasian Society of Neurological Surgeons from 1967 to 1971, president of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies from 1969 to 1973, chairman of the 3rd Conference on surgery of Apoplexy in 1974, president of the Japanese Society of CNS Computed Tomography since 1978, general chairman of the Workshop on Pituitary Tumors since 1978, chairman of the 3rd Wilder Penfield Memorial Conference in 1980, president of the 4th Conference on Neurotraumatology in 1981, and president of the Japanese Congress of Neurological Surgeons in 1981.

    His contribution to neurosurgical research has been outstanding. Between 1948 and 1981, he published 629 papers (153 in English and 2 in German), including 162 on intracranial and spinal tumors, 119 on cerebrovascular diseases, 80 on head injuries, 48 on stereotactic and functional neurosurgery, 43 on EEG, 32 on other diagnostic methods, 24 on congenital anomalies and pediatric neurosurgery, 20 on operative techniques and paraoperative care, and 16 on epilepsy.

    Obviously, the scope of his research has been too wide to review here. I would like to make special mention, though, of his works on thalamotomy for pain, posteromedial hypothalamotomy for pain and behavior disorders, BUdR-antimetabolite-radiation therapy and boron-neutron capture therapy for glioblastoma, and artificial embolization for large AVMs, and his research on the mechanism of vasopasm and of head injuries.

    It is with the great pride of all Japanese neurosurgeons that Dr. Keiji Sano, the real establisher of Japanese neurosurgery, was invited to be the honored guest of the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

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