Neurology at Iowa: 100 Years of Progress

  • January 1, 1919

    Founding of the Department of Neurology at The University of Iowa

    The Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine’s Neurology Department, founded in 1919, was one of the first academic departments of neurology in the country, and the first to be established west of the Mississippi River.  Its residency program one of the first to be accredited in the 1920s.  It originally lived in the first university hospital (shown above), which later became known as Seashore Hall. 

    PDF icon Foundation of the Department.pdf

  • June 24, 1919

    Clarence Van Epps appointed first professor and head

    The Department was founded by its first Chairman, Clarence Van Epps, upon his return from Europe after World War I. Dr. Van Epps was born in Camanche, Iowa, in 1875.  He graduated from medical school at the University of Iowa in 1897 and subsequently obtained a second MD from the University of Pennsylvania. Initially trained in the east and in Vienna, Austria as an otolaryngologist he returned to Iowa to join a private practice in Davenport. However, he was soon recruited to the University of Iowa to become a faculty member in 1904 where he developed an interest in neurological disease. He rose to the rank of Professor in 1910, and by that time became known as the sole neurologist at the university. During World War I he served as a Major in the Medical Officer Reserve Corps in Hôpital Saint-Antoine in Paris and at Base Hospital 114 at Beau-Desert, France. Upon his return to Iowa in 1919 he was named as the first Chairman of a new Department of Neurology at the University of Iowa.

    PDF icon Heads of the Department.pdf

  • April 4, 1928

    Department moves from its original location to the University Hospitals

    In 1928 the new General Hospital was built on its current site on the west side of the Iowa River (view looking south).  At the time it was one of the largest hospitals in the country, and a capacity of 700 beds. Neurology had a 48 bed inpatient ward.  For much of the first two decades of its existence the Department was made up of only a handful of neurologists.

    In the early 1930s, Iowa was one of the first centers in the nation to open an electroencephalography (EEG) lab.

    PDF icon Electroencephalography (EEG).pdf

  • January 1, 1948

    Adolph Sahs Named Department Chair

    Dr. Adolph Sahs was named head in 1948.  More than fifty neurologists were trained under his tutelage.  His personal devotion to patient care left lasting impressions on his students, and his teaching extended beyond the bedside and lecture hall to include two revisions of Grinker's Neurology in 1960 and 1966.  Dr. Sahs gained international recognition as an expert in cerebrovascular disease.  Clinical research related to intracranial aneurysms was given special emphasis, and Sahs organized one of the first multi-center NIH clinical trials in this area of investigation.  Dr. Sahs also served as president of both the American Neurological Association in 1967-1968 and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in 1967.

    Three areas of excellence arise during Dr. Sahs’ tenure as head.

    PDF icon Vascular Neurology.pdf

    PDF icon Electromyography (EMG).pdf

    PDF icon Neuromuscular Medicine.pdf


  • January 1, 1948

    Sahs Helps form American Academy of Neurology

    Adolph Sahs co-founded the American Academy of Neurology (AAN).  In 1947, together with three other Chairmen of Neurology at Midwestern universities he established what is now the leading professional organization for the field. Shown from left to right are Russell DeJong (U Michigan), AB Baker (U Minnesota), Adolph Sahs, and Francis Forster (U Wisconsin). They became known as “The Four Horsemen of Neurology.”

    PDF icon Contributions to Academic Neurology.pdf

  • January 1, 1974

    Dr. Maurice Van Allen Becomes Head

    In 1974, Dr. Maurice Van Allen Van Allen became the third head of the Department.  Dr. Van Allen brought his unique clinical insights from both neurosurgery and neurology, and the department grew rapidly.  Several highly-qualified physicians and researchers were attracted to the Department during his tenure (including Antonio R. Damasio).

    Research and treatment for epilepsy and sleep are growth areas during this period.

    PDF icon Epilepsy & Sleep.pdf 

  • January 1, 1978

    Arthur L. Benton Laboratory of Neuropsychology Created

    In 1978, upon Dr. Arthur L. Benton's retirement, the Benton Laboratory of Neuropsychology in the Division of Behavioral Neurology was dedicated.  During Sahs' tenure as head, Maurice Van Allen and Arthur Benton established the Neurosensory Center, which became an important stimulus for future endeavors in neurological research.  Benton supervised 46 doctoral dissertations and 24 master's theses.  He was the author of numerous books and the creator of a number of neuropsychological testing instruments, including the Benton Visual Retention Test (BVRT).

  • March 8, 1978

    Damasio's co-found the Iowa Neurological Patient Registry

    In 1982, Damasio co-founded the Iowa Neurological Patient Registry with his wife, Hanna Damasio, a fellow neuroscientist, and Daniel Tranel, a graduate student at the time and now a UI faculty member and fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The one-of-a-kind registry has collected brain scans of thousands of patients, along with medical histories and lesion maps, and has over 500 active members available to participate in cognitive research studies.

    PDF icon Cognitive Neuroscience & Clinical Neuropsychology.pdf

  • January 1, 1985

    Dr. Antonio Damasio Named Head

    In 1985, Dr. Antonio R. Damasio was appointed as the Department's fourth head.  Dr. Damasio studied medicine at the University of Lisbon Medical School, where he also did his neurological residency and completed his doctorate. For part of his studies he researched behavioral neurology under the supervision of the Norman Geschwind of the Aphasia Research Center in Boston.  Dr. Damasio formulated the somatic marker hypothesis, a theory about how emotions and their biological underpinnings are involved in decision-making.  The research depended significantly on establishing the modern human lesion method, an enterprise made possible by Hanna Damasio's structural neuroimaging/neuroanatomy work complemented by experimental neuropsychology (with Antoine Bechara, Ralph Adolphs, and Daniel Tranel).

  • December 29, 2002

    Jun Kimura appointed president of the World Federation of Neurology

    Jun Kimura, a major international figure in the development of electrophysiology and EMG/NCV interpretation, was the President of the World Federation of Neurology from 2002-2005.