W. Edwin Dodson, MD was born and raised in a working class family at Dodsons Crossroads (Chapel Hill/Durham); his mother was a nurse and his father ran a gas station. He received his bachelor’s and medical degrees from Duke University and trained in pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital and in Child Neurology at Saint Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. Ed then completed fellowships at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and at the Murdoch Developmental Center under tutelage of Dr. A. W. Renuart researching screening for abnormalities of amino acid metabolism. After completion of his training, Ed’s main academic interest in the 1980s and 90s (both clinical and research) was in the area of pediatric epilepsy. He was instrumental in advocating for and the development of programs designed to test new antiepileptic drugs for the treatment and management of children with the most severe forms of epilepsy. While commonplace today, when Ed started out he was truly a pioneer in his efforts to promote laboratory and clinical trials for the typically refractory forms of epilepsy. Subsequently he was lead author on two of the most instrumental papers of the time on the treatment of epilepsy and seizures published in the Journal of Pediatrics. His collaboration in these papers with Drs. Sydney Goldring, Darryl De Vivo, Philip Dodge and Arthur Prensky illustrated his early commitment to optimizing the treatment of seizures through deeper understanding of antiepileptic pharmacology, creating testing protocols for the small clinical volumes needed to study children. This work lead to seminal papers on phenytoin, valproic acid and phenobarbital pharmacokinetics and dynamics in adults, children and neonates that we still rely on in clinical practice to this day. In 1991 he let a group of more than 100 neurologists in the development of the first guidelines for the treatment of convulsive status epilepticus for the Epilepsy Foundation of America. Over the years Dr. Dodson has published over 100 original articles, reviews and book chapters.
Dr. Dodson combined his academic endeavors with leadership and advocacy by serving in a multitude of capacities in the American Epilepsy Society, the Epilepsy Foundation of America and the Child Neurology Society. Ed served on the Child Neurology Society Training Committee and was elected to a two year term on the CNS Executive Committee as Councillor for the Midwest (1985-87). He also served on the editorial board member for the Annals of Neurology in the years 1983-1989. His dedication, skill and leadership in the field of pediatric epilepsy has been recognized with him receiving the Clemens Award of the Epilepsy Foundation of St. Louis and the American Epilepsy Society’s J. Kiffin Penry Award for Excellence in Epilepsy Care. In 2018 he was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Epilepsy Foundation of Missouri and Kansas.
Strongly supported and mentored by Philip Dodge, Ed recognized the unmet need for providing appropriate neurological care and management of children who had suffered abusive injury involving the central nervous system. Of all of his accomplishments, Ed says that he is most proud of his work to prevent child abuse. He was, and remains, truly committed to this cause. Motivated by the epidemic that he witnessed firsthand early on in his career, Ed was at the forefront of physician education on this topic, often in partnership with the American Academy of Neurology and American Academy of Pediatrics. His regional efforts included a decades long involvement in the Missouri Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect and the Committee to Prevent Child Abuse. After recognizing the need for local implementation of preventive strategies, he became the founding president of the St. Louis Family Support Network in 1983; the organization’s goal was, and remains to this day, to strengthen at-risk families in order to prevent child abuse and neglect by providing free, in-home family counseling. He was also a governor appointee of the Chairman of the Children’s Trust Fund of Missouri, whose efforts also encompass the prevention and alleviation of child abuse and neglect. For his work, Ed received the St. Louis Child Abuse Network Child Advocacy Award (1990), and the Guardian Angel Award, Family Support Network (1999). In 2004 Dr. Dodson received Washington University’s Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award and in 2010 the Medical Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award.
Ed’s impact on pediatric neurosciences both at Washington University School of Medicine and nationally also directly relates to the dual roles he served for more than 20 years as Chairman of the Committee on Admissions for the School of Medicine and as Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean for Admissions and for Continuing Medical Education at Washington University School of Medicine. In these capacities he set the tone regarding neuroscience education of physicians both in training and in practice. Every year the percentage of Washington University medical school students entering clinical neuroscience training programs (child neurology, neurology and neurosurgery) has exceeded national norms. Ed also was an admirable recruiter, and rotating medical students almost always had a tale to tell about their interactions with him, and how his sense of humor and engaging personality had brought them to Washington University. Through his efforts, the US News and World Report ranked Washington University No. 1 in student selectivity for more than 20 consecutive years. In addition, under his tenure, the proportion of female applicants rose from 30 percent to 50 percent and minority representation increased from 5 percent to 15 percent. Even more importantly, in this visible role, Ed was an outstanding ambassador for child neurology, and played an important role in recruiting dozens of the best medical students to enter our field. Within the Division of Pediatric and Developmental Neurology at Washington University, Ed’s innate ability to assess “medical talent” has been exceedingly beneficial in the selection process and subsequent mentoring of trainees in child neurology. In culmination of all these achievements, in 2015 Dr. Dodson received the 2nd Century Award from Washington University recognizing his longterm commitment and participation that have enabled the school to enter its second century with strength and confidence.
For over 50 years Dr. W. Edwin Dodson has dedicated himself to many of the most critical aspects of the practice of child neurology, clinical care, advocacy, research and education. His consummate clinical skills are matched only by his dedication to his patients and their families. Within child neurology Ed has served as a mentor, colleague and most importantly a friend. Ed is thoughtful, witty and kind. He is a caring husband to his wife Karen, father to 6 children and grandfather to13 grandchildren and has never hesitated to lend a helping hand to friends and colleagues, especially regarding the intricacies of fly fishing, at which he has become a master!
Strongly supported and mentored by Philip Dodge, Ed recognized the unmet need for providing appropriate neurological care and management of children who had suffered abusive injury involving the central nervous system. Of all of his accomplishments, Ed says that he is most proud of his work to prevent child abuse. He was, and remains, truly committed to this cause. Motivated by the epidemic that he witnessed firsthand early on in his career, Ed was at the forefront of physician education on this topic, often in partnership with the American Academy of Neurology and American Academy of Pediatrics.