Peter Williamson died on June 4, 2008, of lung cancer at age 71 after a remarkable personal and professional career. Peter was born in Hinsdale, Illinois, and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1958. He attended the University of Southern California Medical School followed by 2 years of internal medicine at New York Hospital and a neurology residency at Yale University. After 3 years of military service at Walter Reed Army Medical Center he joined the staff of the Veterans Administration-Yale Epilepsy Center. Peter and his colleagues pioneered many of the current practices in epileptology with important original contributions in the surgical treatment of seizure disorders.
After 19 years in New Haven, he returned to Dartmouth in 1991 as director of the comprehensive epilepsy program. He was an enthusiastic supporter of his alma mater and chaired the $250 million Dartmouth Transforming Medicine Campaign. The Translational Research Building to be built on the campus of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center will be named in honor of Peter and his wife, Susan, for their extraordinary generosity to the institution.
Peter was instrumental in establishing protocols for long-term intracranial EEG monitoring in the evaluation of patients with intractable partial epilepsy being considered for surgical treatment. He described the unusual clinical manifestations and semiology of extratemporal, predominantly frontal lobe, seizures that are now well accepted in clinical epilepsy. He was a leading figure in developing presurgical protocols to localize the epileptogenic zone in patients with nonlesional partial epilepsy. The appropriate use of intracranial EEG recordings in the operative planning has permitted some patients with indeterminate scalp-recorded EEG recordings and nonlocalizing neuroimaging studies to undergo successful epilepsy surgery.
He was passionate about teaching, and his enthusiasm regarding the care and management of patients with seizures was infectious. He inspired and mentored many students and colleagues to pursue careers in epilepsy research. He took a personal interest in every person in his epilepsy program, especially his patients. The American Epilepsy Society awarded him the prestigious J. Kiffin Penry Award for excellence in epilepsy care in 2002.
He was a great inspiration to generations of neurologists and will be very much missed by his family, friends, colleagues, and patients.