May 16, 2019

Dominic Purpura, MD

2019 *Past President, Clinical Research Award Recipient

Full Obituary

In Memoriam

With heavy hearts, the American Epilepsy Society announces the passing of our friend and colleague, AES Past President Dominick P. Purpura, MD. 

Dr. Purpura passed away on Thursday, May 16, 2019. He was 92.

Dr. Purpura, better known as Dom, was a legend. Even prior to graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School in 1953, he was the lead author, as a medical student, on a paper examining the neurophysiology of spinal neurons. After training in Neurology at Columbia, he devoted himself to laboratory research and integrated a wide array of techniques and approaches to study the nervous system. His exceptional technical abilities combined with his keen intellect allowed him to tackle difficult and pressing questions in brain sciences, including pioneering work in epilepsy and intellectual disabilities. 

He is internationally-known for studies in mental retardation that demonstrated the primary involvement of certain structural abnormalities of nerve cells in the brain. Also widely recognized for work on the origin of brain waves, developmental neurobiology, and the mechanism of epilepsy, he was one of two scientists in the nation to receive the first annual National Medical Research Award of the National Health Council at a White House ceremony in September 1988. In 1992, he received the AES Clinical Science Research Award, and in 1996, the Society of Neuroscience presented him with its Presidential Award. His renown as a neuroscientist, both at the bench and in pioneering a new field of research, touched generations of investigators and students worldwide, earning him numerous accolades that include membership in the National Academy of Sciences and its Institute of Medicine. 

During his illustrious career, Dr. Purpura was president of the Eastern Association of Encephalographs, the American Epilepsy Society, the Society for Neuroscience, and the International Brain Research Organization. 

His warmth, humility, and humor inspired all who met him. A full obituary can be found here.