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Dr. Clark Millikan, Stroke Expert, Dies at 95

DR. CLARK MILLIKAN (1915–2011)

Clark Millikan, MD, a senior neurologist widely renowned for his work on stroke and cerebrovascular disease, died in Price, UT, on Jan 29 at the age of 95.

An active member of the AAN since 1948, Dr. Millikan was the AAN founding chairperson of the Section on Stroke in 1993 and remained active in the section until his death. He was known as an innovator in stroke care and is credited with developing a novel model of outpatient care for patients with small strokes and transient ischemic attacks that reduced financial and administrative burden.

He held several leadership positions, serving as the president of the American Neurological Association (1974); director of American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc. (1966-1974); and president of the Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease (1961).

Dr. Millikan authored or contributed to nearly 250 articles on stroke, infectious disease, cerebrovascular disease, and aneurysm. From 1990 to 2011 he served as the founding editor of the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease. He was the first editor of the journal Stroke: A Journal of Cerebral Circulation (1970-1977) and the first chairman of the American Heart Association (AHA) Stroke Council.

Dr. Millikan's enthusiasm for neurology never waned; he continued to attend the AAN and other professional meetings through his later years. He received his medical degree at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1939, and shortly after completing residencies at St. Luke's Hospital in Ohio and the State University of Iowa, moved to the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in Minnesota. He was chairman of neurology at the Mayo Clinic from 1955-1966.

After many years with the Mayo Clinic, he became professor of neurology and director of the Stroke Unit at University of Utah School of Medicine (1976-1987). Subsequently, Dr. Millikan taught at the University of Miami School of Medicine (1987-1988), the Henry Ford Hospital (1988-1992), and spent his final years as a clinical professor of neurology at the Medical College of Ohio.

He was also a sought-after lecturer and guest professor. In 1997, alongside his wife, fellow neurologist Nancy Futrell, MD, he cofounded the Intermountain Stroke Center in Salt Lake City, UT, which dually works to manage acute stroke and prevent future strokes with the help of lifestyle adjustments and medications.

In an interview with Neurology Today, James F. Toole, MD, Walter C. Teagle Professor of Neurology and director of the Cerebrovascular Research Center at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, said: “Clark was more of a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. He was always motivating people. You can't count his publications by the sheer number he authored; you have to look at how many more he inspired.”

And his ability to inspire others reached beyond neurology. Theodore Greaves, MD, an anesthesiologist at Children's Hospital Central California, completed a clerkship with Dr. Millikan at the University of Utah Medical School in the summer of 1978, and still thinks of him fondly. In an e-mail to Neurology Today, Dr. Greaves wrote: “Dr. Millikan made learning about neurology very fun and exciting. I [still] have a copy of Dr. Millikan's green neurology exam textbook. He was a great, great teacher; always happy and always truly caring about his patients.

“He would say ‘excellent, excellent' when neurological patients were being examined and were struggling to perform the tasks he would ask of them,” Dr. Greaves continued. “On rounds, he would always write something insightful on the chart — adding that extra level of insight that only an attending with his years of experience could offer…He shared his wisdom about life, as well as his knowledge of medicine. He had become my role model in spite of the fact that I did not go into neurology. Some people remain with you for the rest of your life even though you never see them again.”

Dr. Millikan received many honors over his career, including the American Heart Association Scientific Councils' Distinguished Achievement Award (1981) and the AHA Gold Heart Award in 1976.

Dr. Millikan's non-academic pursuits included tennis, knitting, gardening, and woodworking. A chef and connoisseur of fine foods, Dr. Millikan requested that individuals remember him by enjoying a hearty meal and a glass of wine, rather than attend a traditional funeral service.

Dr. Millikan is survived by his wife, Dr. Nancy Futrell; three children; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Donations towards research and education in his honor can be made to the Clark Millikan Fund, 5292 College Dr., #204, Murray, UT 84123.