October 31, 2008
In memoriam: Raymond D. Adams, MD

adamsRaymond D. Adams, MD, chief of the MGH Department of Neurology from 1951 to 1977 and an internationally respected neurologist and neuropathologist, died Oct. 18 following a long illness. He was 97 years old. 

A beloved mentor and highly regarded physician and researcher, Adams oversaw the department during a time of tremendous change and growth – including the creation of a separate pediatric neurology division – and increased the amount of research into the causes of and treatments for many neurologically-based diseases. Adams was an early proponent of supporting physicians who wished to specialize in specific areas of neurology, giving them opportunities to study patients living with disease as well as examining why and how a condition progresses. Adams helped shape the department from a well-respected clinical service to one internationally recognized for its broad neuroscience research program.

Adams received his undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon and his medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine. He completed his internship and first year of residency at Duke University Hospital before coming to the MGH as a neurology resident, eventually becoming an associate in that department as well as in the departments of Psychiatry and Neuropathology. He became chief in 1951.

In the late 1950s, working with a grant from the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., Foundation, Adams and others created the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., Laboratories at the MGH to support research in the field of children's neurology – a new area of study at the time. He was a key player in the creation and administration of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Research Center for Mental Retardation and served as its first director.

The former Bullard Professor of Neuropathology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), Adams served as chairman of the HMS Department of Neurology from 1966 to 1970 and held leadership posts in many medical organizations, such as the American Neurological Association; the American Association of Neuropathologists; and the French Academy of Neurology. He also held honorary memberships in the British, Lebanese and Columbian societies of neurology. He is the author of more than 200 publications and papers, co-edited the premier textbook of neurology, Adams and Victor Principles of Neurology, and has several lectureships and fellowships named in his honor.

Adams was predeceased by his wife, Maria Salam-Adams, MD. He is survived by his children, numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well as his hundreds of colleagues, friends and former students. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

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