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  • Sidney Goldring

    1985, Honolulu, HI

    Sidney Goldring was born April 2, 1923, in Kremnitz, Poland. His family immigrated to the United States and settled in St. Louis when Sidney was 3 months old. The Goldrings spoke not a word of English, but they had a passionate determination that their sons would be educated and have a profession. David, the first-born son, fulfilled his parents' dream by going to medical school. They, however, despaired of their second son, who was not distinguishing himself in school, and seemed more concerned about having fun and winning swimming meets for Soldan High School than getting serious about his studies. Sidney began college at Washington University in 1941, and entered the accelerated medical school program at Washington University, receiving his medical degree in 1947. He had finally become a serious scholar, and his parents had another son of whom to be proud.

    Research has always been a driving passion in Dr. Goldring's life. During medical school he worked in the lab of Dr. Carl Harford, investigating the etiology of decreased cerebrospinal fluid glucose levels in meningitis, nurturing an early interest in the nervous system. His love of basic research continues today as he surrounds himself with anatomists, physiologists, and engineers working in his neurosurgery department, and he often encourages medical students and residents to consider working on doctorates in basic science.

    During medical school Dr. Goldring's interest in the nervous system and the challenges of the developing specialty of neurosurgery confirmed his desire to enter this field. He did his internship and a year of residency in general surgery at the Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. In 1949, he became a fellow in neurology at Washington University working with Dr. James O'Leary. During this time he received his initial training in neurophysiology. In the laboratory he also came under the influence of the inquiring mind of Dr. George Bishop, one of the pioneers in the development of modern neurophysiology. Among Dr. Bishop's many achievements was the first recording of evoked potentials in experimental animals. Dr. Goldring was influenced not only by the scientific achievement of these men, but also by their strong moral character and sense of fairness, the same characteristics that today's generation sees in Dr. Goldring. His life-long interest and understanding in treating patients with severe seizure disorders began at this time, when every morning was spent reading electroencephalograms (EEG) with Dr. O'Leary.

    He began his neurosurgery training at Washington University and Barnes Hospital with Dr. Henry Schwartz in 1951. The influence of this superb surgeon and powerful personality has been a guiding force throughout Dr. Goldring's career. His residency was interrupted by 8 months service in the United States Public Health Service as an instructor in neurosurgery with the Washington University Medical Unit in Thailand, an exchange program set up between Washington University and Chulalonkorn and Siriraj Universities in Bangkok. During this time Dr. Goldberg performed the first craniotomy for tumor ever done in Thailand.Returning home, Dr. Goldring entered the United States Army, spending 1 year at Walter Reed Hospital where he first met a future long'time associate, Dr. William Coxe, and worked with Dr. Ludwig Kempe. Dr. Goldring returned to St. Louis and finished his neurosurgical residency at Barnes Hospital in 1956.

    Having completed his training Dr. Goldring became a member of the Washington University School of Medicine faculty from 1956 to 1964. He then left Washington University to become professor and head of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1966, he rejoined Washington University as professor of neurological surgery. When a search committee was formed to find a new head of neurological surgery to replace Dr. Henry Schwartz, the proverbial "legend in his own time," the job seemed herculean; but the answer kept coming back from all sources: "the best man is right there--search no further." In 1974, Dr. Goldring became head of neurological surgery and cochairman of the newly created Department of Neurology and Neurological Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine, and neurosurgeon-inchief at Barnes Hospital and St. Louis Children's Hospital. Dr. Goldring has continued the highly respected training program at Washington University in the tradition of Ernest Sachs and Henry Schwartz, encouraging and training neurosurgeons with a .strong academic emphasis. In 1980, he was also appointed director of the McDonnell Center for Studies of Higher Brain Function which was created with a large gift from the James S. McDonnell Foundation.

    Dr. Goldring's research interests are in neurophysiology and experimental and clinical epilepsy. He has published extensively on these subjects and has developed a large experience in the surgical treatment of seizure disorders. Basic laboratory studies have focused on the steady voltage gradients that exist between the brain and an extracerebral reference, or across the cerebral cortex. These gradients (direct current [DC] potentials) were extensively studied during anoxia, asphyxia, hypoglycemia, focal brain injury, cerebral ischemia, anesthesia, and seizure discharge. Changes in DC potentials were shown to be due to sustained changes in the resting membrane potentials (RMP) of both neurons and glia; the RMP of glia reflecting fluxes in the extracellular K + concentration. The glial contribution of these potentials was definitively proven by simultaneous physiologic-morphologic studies in which the glial cells were marked intracellularly with horseradish peroxidase. Clinical research has dealt primarily with epilepsy. His most significant clinical contribution has been the development of a surgical method of treatment in which all surgical manipulation is carried out under general, rather than local, anesthesia. The sensori-motor region is identified in the anesthetized patient by recording cortical sensory evoked responses, and the epileptogenic focus is localized by the use of indwelling surface epidural electrode arrays for extraoperative electrocorticography which is carried out predominantly during spontaneously occurring seizures. This method has made it possible to extend surgical treatment of intractable seizure disorders to patients who heretofore could not as readily be considered for surgery, especially children.

    Dr. Goldring has willingly given his time serving the National Institutes of Health and organized neurosurgery. He was a member of the Neurology Study Section of NINCDS from 1964 to 1968 and again from 1969 through 1973, serving as chairman of this section from 1972 to 1973. He was a member of the National Advisory Council of NINCDS from 1977 through 1981. Dr. Goldring was a member of the American Board of Neurological Surgery from 1971 through 1976, serving as chairman from 1974 through 1976. He was chairman of the Residency Review Committee for Neurosurgery from 1974 through 1976.

    In 1975, he was chairman of the Neurosciences Interdisciplinary Cluster of the President's Panel on Biomedical and Behavior Research. Currently he is chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Research Foundation of the American Association of Neurological Surgery (AANS) and has served since 1972, as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Grass Foundation. Dr. Goldring served as president of the Society of Neurological Surgeons from 1981 to 1982, the American Academy of Neurological Surgery from 1982 to 1983, and the AANS from 1984 to 1985.

    Sidney Goldring met Lois Blustein when she was 15 years old. Showing characteristic good judgment, he fell in love with this young, beautiful redhead and married her in 1945, when she was a Washington University freshman. A lovely, vibrant, and outgoing woman, Lois has served as a strong complement to Sid while maintaining her own identity in important civic and cultural activities. The Goldrings have two children, James M. Goldring, who in 1985 was a student at the Washington University School of Medicine and completed a Ph.D. in neurobiology before entering medical school, and a daughter, Kathryn Goldring Coryell, who in 1985 lived in Iowa City, Iowa, with her psychiatrist husband, Bill, and children Matthew, then aged 5, and Julie, then aged 1, the special pride of grandparents Lois and Sid. This busy man has little time for hobbies, but vacation time usually finds Sidney and Lois waist deep in the best trout streams of Montana, and a hefty portion of Montana trout find their way to St. Louis deliciously prepared on the table for lucky family and friends.

    The Congress of Neurological Surgeons was privileged to recognize Sidney Goldring as its honored guest in 1985.

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