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Philip Dodge, MD, Pediatric Neurology Pioneer, Dies at 86

Philip Rogers Dodge, MD, renowned as a founder of pediatric neurology, died of pneumonia on Aug. 30, in St. Louis, MO. He was 86.

Dr. Dodge was Professor Emeritus in the departments of pediatrics and neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. As head of pediatrics at the Washington University School of Medicine from 1967 until 1986, he helped develop the modern St. Louis Children's Hospital and build the Washington University pediatrics department into one of distinction.

“He was a visionary leader in the field of pediatric and developmental neurology, and his contributions to our discipline are unparalleled,” said Michael J. Noetzel, MD, professor of neurology and pediatrics, director of the division of pediatric and developmental neurology at Washington University School of Medicine, and medical director of clinical and diagnostic neuroscience services at St. Louis Children's Hospital. Phil was revered as an inspirational and compassionate physician, a superb clinician and teacher, and a consummate scholar.”

Dr. Dodge graduated in 1943 from the University of New Hampshire and Yale University, earned his medical degree at the University of Rochester Medical School in 1948, and completed his residency in neurology and neuropathology at the Boston City Hospital and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Dr. Dodge joined the Harvard Medical School faculty in 1956 and established the pediatric neurology department at Massachusetts General Hospital the same year. He was also director of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Laboratories for the Study of Mental Retardation at Massachusetts General Hospital.

In 1967 Dr. Dodge moved to St. Louis, where he developed and chaired the Edward R. Mallinckrodt Department of Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine and served as medical director at St. Louis Children's Hospital. His study interests included acute childhood encephalopathy, transient blindness after minimal trauma, the bobble-head doll syndrome, cerebral gigantism, and unilateral pupillary dilation with seizures in children.

His facility with children and devotion to their care was admirable, said Dr. Noetzel. “As a physician he demonstrated the unique combination of tender concern and brilliant insight. Anyone who ever examined a recalcitrant child with Dr. Dodge remembers fondly him singing ‘K-K-K-Katy, Katy’ to sooth the patient and usually the parents.”



As head of the pediatrics department at Washington University, Dr. Dodge expanded the faculty from a dozen to more than 100, while simultaneously training and mentoring many of the past and current academic pediatric neurology leaders in the US, said Dr. Noetzel.

“Like many aspiring child neurologists of the last four decades, my whole reason for coming to Washington University and St. Louis Children's Hospital was to train under Dr. Philip R. Dodge and the marvelously talented physicians and researchers he had assembled in the departments of pediatrics and neurology,” said Dr. Noetzel.

Dr. Dodge was a member of numerous organizations, including the AAN, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Epilepsy Society, and Child Neurology Society. His multiple awards include the Hower Award from the Child Neurology Society (1978) and the Distinguished Service Award from the Washington University Medical Center Alumni Association (2000). He also authored 150 publications on child neurological disorders, including the seminal Nutrition and the Developing Nervous System (CV Mosby), which he co-wrote with Arthur L. Prensky, MD, and Ralph Feigin, MD, in 1975. Dr. Dodge continued working at St. Louis Children's Hospital and consulting at Shriners Hospitals for Children St. Louis until last year.

“To those of us who experienced the privilege of working with Phil, he has been a friend, a mentor, and a wonderful giving person. He will be fondly remembered and sorely missed.”