SNO Mourns the Passing of Charles Wilson

Charles (Charlie) Wilson, a pioneering neurosurgeon, passed away on February 24, 2018, in Greenbrae, California. He was 88.

Charlie was a visionary physician–scientist, an extraordinarily gifted surgeon, and a mentor to many working in the field of neuro-oncology today. He received SNO’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Society’s highest honor, in 2008 at the SNO Annual Meeting in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada.

Charlie Wilson was born on August 31, 1929, in Neosho, Missouri, a farming community in the Ozark Mountains with a population of 5,000.  Though slightly built, was a three-sport athlete in high school and received academic and football scholarships to Tulane University, where he played running back as a freshman. But, he went no further in football because of an ankle injury. He eventually turned to running marathons.

Dr. Wilson graduated from the Tulane School of Medicine and spent a year as a pathology resident at Charity Hospital, also in New Orleans.  After a residency in neurosurgery that had been jointly offered by Tulane and the Ochsner Clinic (now part of the Ochsner Health System), Charlie became a neurosurgery resident at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in New Orleans. He later returned to Charity as chief resident, taught neurosurgery at Louisiana State University and, in 1963, joined the University of Kentucky, where he started its division of neurosurgery.

He joined UCSF in 1968 as chairman of its neurosurgery division and soon expanded the brain tumor research he had begun in Kentucky. He remained at UCSF for 28 years and was the founding director of the UCSF Brain Tumor Research Center.

He also worked to address severe challenges in the health care delivery system and during the 1990s, he served as Senior Associate on Medical Affairs to the President of the University of California. In 1996, he obtained a master’s degree in Health Administration. After retiring from surgical practice in 1997, he co-founded the Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance and became a director at the Institute for the Future.

Charlie Wilson was a luminary in the fields of neurosurgery and neuro-oncology and his absence will be felt throughout our entire community.

To read more about this extraordinary man, click here.