Vernon H. Mark, MD, FAANS(L)
VERNON H. MARK was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 6, 1925. He attended the University of Minnesota graduating from its medical school in December of 1946. He took a surgical house officership at the University of Minnesota Hospital under Dr. Owen Wangensteen and then spent another year as a teaching fellow under Dr. A.T. Rassmussen and was awarded a Master of Science in Neuroanatomy and Neuropathology. During this time he held a fellowship from the National Polio Foundation.
His neurosurgical residency was done at the Massachusetts General Hospital under Dr. James C. White and Dr. William H. Sweet beginning in 1949 and ending in 1954. During this time he also had a fellowship from the Damon Runyon Cancer Foundation and was a senior fellow of the National Institute of Health. Dr. Mark entered the United States Air Force and he served as the officer in charge of the neurosurgical service at the 7100th United States Air Force Hospital in Wiesbaden Germany.
Dr. Mark returned to the Massachusetts General Hospital on the senior staff in 1957 in neurosurgery. He continued his research there with Dr. William Sweet and Dr. Hanibal Hamlin developing a useable method of making discrete radiofrequency lesions in the central nervous system. He and Dr. Sweet, Dr. Ervin and Professor Chato from MIT showed the reversible nature of freezing lesions or cold lesions discretely applied to the depth of the central nervous system.
Dr. Mark became the head of the pediatric neurosurgical section at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Dr. Mark, along with Dr. William Sweet, Dr. Frank Erin and Dr. Paul Yacovlev did a series of clinical anatomical studies proving the existence of a pain center in the primitive sensory system of the intralaminar nucleus, the parafasicular nucleus and portions of the centremedian nucleus of the thalamus that could relieve chronic pain without disturbing the sensation of pin prick.
Dr. Mark along with Dr. Ervin showed that chronic stimulation in portions of the thalamus, basal ganglia and amygdala could relieve the otherwise intractable pain in terminal cancer patients. Dr. Mark and Dr. Folkman demonstrated an implantable chemmode that could transfer fat soluble or gaseous compounds at a steady rate from the inside of a silastic container into the surrounding brain tissue over a period of days to weeks.
In 1964 Dr. Mark went on the part-time staff of the Massachusetts General Hospital. He became the Director of Neurosurgery at the Boston City Hospital which position he held until 1986. He and Dr. William Sweet and Dr. Frank Ervin implanted electrodes in the amygdala and hippocampus of patients with intractable temporal lobe epilepsy and aggressive behavior, with Dr. Jose Delgado
Dr. Mark is now an Honorary Physician in Neurosurgery at the Boston University Medical Center. He is a retired Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and continues on the part-time staff of the Massachusetts General Hospital.
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