Bringing CNS Members Together to Make Children’s Lives Better


Kenton R. Holden, MD

Profile written by Robert S. Rust, MD

Kenton R. Holden, MD

Ken Holden was born and raised in Baltimore and completed his undergraduate education at the University of Virginia in 1964, was elected to ODK and, subsequently, completed medical school at the Medical College of Virginia (1964-68). As a medical student he was elected to AOA, receiving its research award along with numerous other named awards for his outstanding performance in surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics. Dr. Holden’s decision to become a child neurologist was particularly influenced by Anatole Dekaban of the NIH, who was justly celebrated for his contributions to the understanding of early brain developmental disturbances, epilepsy, and hereditary metabolic diseases. Dr. Holden completed residency in pediatrics (1968-70, 1972-73) at Johns Hopkins, and his neurology fellowship while on active military service duty with the U.S. Public Health Service at the Section on Child Neurology at the National Institutes of Health (1970-72). His career development was further influenced at Hopkins by the examples of excellence provided by Frank Ford, John Freeman (epilepsy, headaches, and ethics), Mary Ellen Avery (neonatal neurology), and pediatric geneticist, Roger Stevenson. Bob Blizzard, Roscoe Brady, Hugo Moser, and Guy McKhann played important roles in Dr. Holden’s development of interest and expertise in neurometabolic diseases and degenerative conditions. Other contemporary neurology residents influencing Dr. Holden’s career development included Harvey Singer, Ian Butler, and Alan Percy.

Upon completion of training, Dr. Holden would remain on Inactive Military Reserve for the ensuing 25 years. From 1973-1985 he served as Assistant Director of the Pediatric Seizure Clinic at Johns Hopkins; during portions of this interval he held staff positions in the Departments of Pediatrics and of Neurology at Johns Hopkins, the John F. Kennedy Institute, the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, the Sinai Hospital, and a private practice. He served as well as a Staff Consultant for Karin B. Nelson at the Perinatal Research Branch of the NIH. She was to prove another important influence on Dr. Holden’s clinical and scientific development. In 1990, Dr. Holden joined the Medical University of South Carolina as an Associate Professor and Clinical Director of the Division of Pediatric Neurology at the Medical University of South Carolina (USC), serving as a Staff Physician at three additional Charleston hospitals. He was promoted to Professor at USC in 1996. In 1999 he was appointed Senior Clinical Research Neurologist and Chief of the Section of Clinical Neuroscience at the Greenwood Genetic Center in South Carolina. His deeply entrenched interest in improving the state of healthcare of underserved areas of the world manifested itself with his appointment as Visiting Professor in Child Neurology in 2000 and Epilepsy in 2001 at the National Medical School at Tegucigalpa in Honduras. He has subsequently retained all of these various positions and responsibilities. Dr. Holden has been keenly interested in medical education in all of these venues, assuming formal responsibility for curricular development in Neurosciences at USC and Neurogenetics education at Greenwood. At Tegulcigalpa he and others initiated and developed the first neurological training program in Honduras.

Dr. Holden has been the recipient as Principal Investigator, Project Director, Consultant, or Sub- Investigator for grants issued by 26 agencies, including the NIH (4), USC, Greenwood, and Associated Hospitals as well as grants from private non-commercial foundations (15), and private industry (3). His investigations have resulted in the publication of 115 peer-reviewed original publications, 16 as first author, 24 as senior author; 13 have been cited >50 times, four >100 times. The subjects of these papers include heritable neurological disorders (37), epilepsy (17), neurometabolic diseases (15), neurodegenerative conditions (11), neonatal conditions (11), developmental brain and vascular anomalies (10), neurocutaneous conditions (7), and neuromuscular disorders (6).

Dr. Holden has been an exceptionally active teacher and mentor to individuals at all levels of training as physicians, physiatrists, pharmacologists, colleagues, and various other professional healthcare occupations. His visiting professorships have been numerous in the United States and in Honduras. In addition to his excellence as a teacher of neurology, neurogenetics, and neuroscience, Dr. Holden has a broader sense of what should be taught, particularly by example. He has continued to instill the virtues he was taught by those who influenced his own professional and personal development: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Along the way he has learned that “the biggest mistake you can make (in many situations)…is to do nothing when you could have done at least a little.”

Dr. Holden has been the recipient of many honors. He received several awards as a teacher of medical students and he was named Educator-Mentor of the Year of the Health Sciences Foundation at USC. He has been chosen three times to be Reader for the Senior Class Hippocratic Oath Ceremony at USC, and for one graduation he served as the Presidential Marshall for the graduation exercises. He received the Fritz E. Dreifuss International Travel Award from the Epilepsy Foundation. He served as Keynote Speaker for the Second International Congress of Neurology in Honduras and has been the recipient of several additional distinguished awards for his service to Honduras.

Dr. Holden is married to Patricia C. Holden, PhD. The couple are very proud of two very accomplished sons, Kenton Roy Holden Jr., PT, MHA and William Blakely Holden, BA, MBA, as well as their grandchildren. In addition to the importance of family life, Dr. Holden enjoys his continued participation in missionary work and in cattle farming.