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Francis Joseph Otenasek

Francis Joseph Otenasek


Otenasek, a director of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, was born in Baltimore. He earned his undergraduate degree from Loyola College in 1933 and his M.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1937.

Otenasek showed an early interest in neurophysiology, undertaking a three-year fellowship in the discipline while still a medical student. After his surgical internship, he became a William Stewart Halsted Fellow. In 1940, Otenasek began a residency in neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins under Walter Dandy, and four years later established a private practice in Baltimore. Otenasek also became involved in hospital administration, serving on the executive committees of Mercy and Bon Secours hospitals, and as vice president of the Bon Secours staff.

When Walter Dandy, director of neurosurgery, died suddenly in 1946, the hospital and medical school turned to Otenasek, then only an instructor, to direct the department until a permanent replacement was found. Otenasek continued to teach neurosurgery at both the University of Maryland and at Johns Hopkins, where he became an associate professor in 1968 and remained until his death.

Otenasek’s reputation was built on his efforts to further the development of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins and his many contributions to the literature of neurosurgery. He represented the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions often in community affairs and helped to strengthen programs of patient care and teaching in the hospital and medical school. He produced more than forty scientific papers and was coeditor of an anthology of writings by Walter Dandy.

Otenasek was a well-known authority in lumbar bone disease, a degenerative spinal disease. He also was known for his neurological skills related to tumors of the visual apparatus and was a regular contributor to the renowned neuro-ophthalmology conference of Frank Walsh.

Active in numerous professional organizations, Otenasek served as president of the Neurological Society of America. In 1959, his alma mater, Loyola College, awarded him an honorary doctor of laws degree.

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