George Ojemann is a professor emeritus of neurologic surgery in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine. His research focuses on the neurobiology of human cognition, particularly cortical organization for language and memory, which he investigates in the context of awake neurosurgery under local anesthesia. In order to study these aspects of cognition, Ojemann utilizes techniques ranging from electrical stimulation mapping to recording of activity of single neurons, which have resulted in methods for reducing the risk of cortical resections for epilepsy and tumors.
Ojemann received a B.A. in 1956 from the University of Iowa, having served in the Air Force wing of the ROTC and being elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He was awarded the University’s Brigg’s award on graduation for having the highest cumulative GPA for the four undergraduate years.
To begin Dr. Ojemann received a M.D. in 1959, from the University of Iowa. During that time, he had developed an interest in neurology, under the guidance of Dr. Adolph Sahs, best known for his work in the natural history of subarachnoid hemorrhage from aneurysms. During his medical school years, he had completed a rotation in neurosurgery as Massachusetts General Hospital. He received the MacEwen prize for top academic performance throughout medical school and was elected AOA president his junior year. He then completed training in the field of neurosurgery at King County Hospital (now Harborview Medical Center) in Seattle and the University of Washington, followed by further specialty training in surgical neurology at the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Ojemann’s career has combined clinical practices specializing in the surgical treatment of medically refractory epilepsy and brain tumors in functionally eloquent areas of the brain, with research into the neurobiology of human cognition particularly language and memory. These studies have been done in the context of awake operations under local anesthesia, utilizing techniques including electrical stimulation mapping and recording of single neuron activity. From them methods for reducing the risk of cortical resections were developed. For this work the Society of Neurological surgeons awarded him a prize for “Outstanding Continuous Commitment to Research in the Neurosciences by a Neurological Surgeon” (1984), the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke a Javits Neuroscience Award (1984), the Medical College of Ohio an honorary Doctor of Science degree (1998), the K.J. Zulch Prize of the Maz-Planck Society for Basic Neurological Research (2000), the Cloward Medal of the Western Neurosurgical Society (2003), and he received Distinguished Alumni Awards from the University of Iowa (1991) and the University of Washington Medical School (2014). He is a past Director of the American Board of Neurological Surgery (1987-1993, chairman 1992-3), a member of the Residency Review Committee for Neurosurgery (1993-97), and President of the American Academy of Neurological Surgery in 1999-2000. He was a member of the Advisory Committee of the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (1997-2000) and that institute’s Board of Scientific Counselors (1985-89). He Also, served as a military surgeon for the United States Public Health Service from 1964-66 where he then returned to Seattle in 1966, he has been affiliated with the neurosurgical faculty at UW since that time. He was board certified in 1967 by the American Board of Neurological Surgery. He is now married to Dr. Linda Moretti, a neurologist with shared interests in the treatment of epilepsy. They have three children, all physicians: two neurological surgeons.
Ojemann served as director of the Washington Epilepsy Center at Harborview from 1986–1996, serves as a consultant for the Veteran’s Administration Hospital, and is on the editorial boards of several scholarly journals in the fields of neurosurgery and neurology.
He is the author of over 300 research papers and chapters most on the surgical treatment of epilepsy or the neurobiology of human cognition, and several books on the brain for the general public.
He is the co-author of two books with William H. Calvin, Ph.D.: Inside the Brain was published in September 1980, and Conversations with Neil’s Brain: the Neural Nature of Thought and Language in April 1995. He has co-authored Fundamental Mechanisms of Human Brain Function 1987 and Epilepsy Surgery 1993.