For more than 30 years, Peter Williamson's influence was felt broadly across the medical community. A world-renowned neurologist and epilepsy expert distinguished for his pioneering work in evaluating patients for epilepsy surgery, Williamson was founder and director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC), a founding member of Dartmouth Medical School's (DMS) Board of Overseers, and a professor of medicine at DMS.
(Photo by Mark Washburn)
Williamson was one of Dartmouth medicine's strongest advocates and most passionate supporters. He served as chair of the DMS/DHMC Transforming Medicine Campaign, from its beginning in 2002. Under his leadership, the campaign came to within $44 million of its $250 million goal as of June 2008. He and his wife Susan spurred the campaign's momentum by making a record-breaking $20 million gift commitment, the largest ever to DMS or DHMC. In honor of their extraordinary generosity, a building in the future C. Everett Koop '37 Medical Science Complex will be named the Peter and Susan Williamson Translational Research Building.
Williamson was an active member of the Dartmouth College Class of 1958, serving for many years on the Class Executive Committee; on the Class Reunion Committee for his 40th reunion in 1998; several terms as class agent; on the Reunion Giving Committee in 1987, 1992, and 1998-99; Reunion chair in 1983; and most recently, 50th Reunion Giving Committee co-chair. At the '58's 50th Reunion this year, the class recognized his commitment with the inaugural Williamson Service Award, given to Williamson posthumously and accepted on his behalf by family members. The class also set a 50th Reunion giving record, raising $3,585,858.58 with a record 96 percent participation rate.
"The medical community has lost a faithful advocate, and Dartmouth has lost a loyal friend," says President James Wright. "Through his work and because of his philanthropy, Peter's Dartmouth medicine legacy will continue for generations. We will all miss him."
Williamson earned his medical degree from the University of Southern California School of Medicine in 1963. He trained in internal medicine at New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center and then in neurology at Yale New Haven Medical Center. He also served in the military at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
He returned to Yale in 1971, where he pioneered an epilepsy surgery program at the VA-Yale Epilepsy Center. One of his significant successes in the early '70s was the development of intracranial depth electrodes that made it possible to record very low magnitude electrical signals from inside the brain. In 1991, he returned to Dartmouth and established the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. In 2002, the American Epilepsy Society awarded him the prestigious J. Kiffin Penry Award for Excellence in Epilepsy Care.
"Peter's service to the medical school took many forms and we sincerely appreciate his passionate devotion," says William R. Green, dean of DMS. "I am grateful for his hand in shaping the medical school and for everything he and his wife Susan have done to strengthen our future."
By KATHARINE VILLARS
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Last Updated: 12/17/08