Obituary – Karl Kothbauer

As President of the ISIN I am deeply sorrowed to announce the passing of Professor Karl Kothbauer. I have no words to express what his loss means to all of us, professionally but more personally. Given their close friendship over many years, I found appropriate to ask Vedran Deletis and Francesco Sala to share with us their memory of Karl…

Our thoughts are with his family. Our dear Karl, rest in peace.

Isabel Fernández-Conejero
ISIN President

Dear colleagues and friends,

In these very sad days our Society mourns the loss of Karl Kothbauer, to many of us not only an esteemed colleague but a good friend. With Karl’s sudden passing, the international neurosurgical and neuromonitoring community has lost not only a prominent figure in both disciplines but, above all, a very special person.

Karl Kothbauer was Chief and Professor of Neurosurgery at the Kantonsspital in Lucerne but a Pediatric Neurosurgeon in his heart. He trained with Fred Epstein and Rick Abbott at the Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery in New York, where he worked from 1998 to 2004, first as a Fellow, then as an attending pediatric neurosurgeon and Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at the Albert-Einstein-College of Medicine. Upon his return to Europe in 2004 he was appointed Chief of Neurosurgery in Lucerne where, over the past 16 years, he has built up a renowned, academic, referral center for Neurosurgery.

But Karl was, above all, one of the very few neurosurgeons with amazing expertise and competence in the field of Intraoperative Neurophysiology. And it was his, at that time, visionary interest for this discipline that brought him to New York, in 1996, to join Vedran Deletis for a 2-year fellowship in Intraoperative Neurophysiology. He became, then, one of the very first neurosurgeons to be fully trained in neuromonitoring.
There are not many people in medicine who achieved expertise in two fields to the extension that Karl did in Neurosurgery and Intraoperative Neurophysiology. He was extraordinary in both, integrating them and making neurosurgery better and safer, by caring for the benefits of his patients and preserving them from intraoperative induced injury. This approach made him a neurosurgeon of astonishing quality.

To become a founding member of the ISIN, the host of the very first and overwhelming successful ISIN Congress in Lucerne and, in 2009, the third President of our Society were then just natural steps to follow. Karl was not only a leader in this field but also served as an ambassador for the field of Neuromonitoring within the international neurosurgical community for the last than 20 years, influencing many colleagues with his authority, scientific rigor and innovative thinking.
With the words of one of his mentor, Rick Abbott, “behind his quiet, reflective personality, he was the model for an empathetic surgeon whose patients and trainees loved and treasured.”
He was always open minded for new research ideas, teaching what he had learned in the past and supporting young trainees to build up their own profile in an extraordinary way.

Just a year ago, in Vienna, we granted him the Fred J Epstein Memorial Lecture as “An individual of exceptional competence, scientific contribution, with qualities such as thinking “out of the box” and “against the mainstream””. This was Karl Kothbauer, the neurosurgeon and the scientist. Yet, whoever had the fortune and privilege to know him well, knows that Karl was much more than that. He was a humble colleague and a loyal friend, with a genuinely generous heart. In spite of sometimes appearing very serious and reserved, he had, in fact, a sense of humor and irony like no other. Fond memories of the years in New York and then at the ISIN courses and congresses, and on private occasions with his family, are countless.

Love and dedication to his family were no less of his commitment to Neurosurgery. Karl was a beloved husband and father and our affectionate thoughts and prayers are today with his wife and his son.

Karl will be missed, a lot. But his legacy will stay and will inspire all of us in the years to come.

Vedran Deletis, ISIN Historian and Co-Founder
Francesco Sala, ISIN Delegate by Liaison

ISIN PRESIDENTIAL WELCOME ADRESS

 

Dear Members and Colleagues,

It is a great pride to hold the presidency of the ISIN for the oncoming two years. I can assure my full, serious commitment to serve the interests of our entire community. This same commitment does apply to all members of the ISIN Board completely dedicated to explore new scientific and technical ideas, bringing the ISIN further ahead.

Professor Vedran Deletis and Dr. Beatrice Cioni founded the ISIN more than 10 years ago with the intention of developing and spreading the intraoperative neurophysiology globally. During this time the society has experienced a tremendous growth with members from fifty-seven countries represented in all five continents. We celebrated our biannual congress in Lucerne (Switzerland, 2007), Dubrovnik (Croatia, 2009), Barcelona (Spain, 2011), Cape Town (South Africa, 2013), Rio di Janeiro (Brazil, 2015), Seoul (South Korea, 2017) and Vienna (Austria, 2019). We can confirm, attending to the participants’ comments, that the scientific quality of those meetings fulfilled their expectations.

It is one of our main goals to boost the education in intraoperative neurophysiology. For that reason we started organizing yearly educational courses and created three years cycles. So far we have visited countries from Europe, Africa, America and Asia. The academic excellence of those courses has gained the respect from the attendees as well as from other scientific communities. Despite that recognition, the entire ISIN board makes a self-critical analysis after each course and identifies the matters that need to be improved in the future.

Our last Congress and Educational Course in Vienna were impressive by all means. Around 500 participants expressed lots of positive feedback. This all together with a meticulously designed scientific and social program made that event a great success. We are deeply grateful to Dr. Klaus Novak, our host in Vienna.

There, the new ISIN Board was elected and constituted by members who compromised themselves to serve the society with devotion and generosity in sharing their knowledge. Dr. Francisco Soto leaves the presidency after two years of changes and need for important decisions. He worked hard on improving the ISIN structure and made important connections with other international societies. He also was the biggest supporter for the creation of the IONM evidence based medicine committee together with Dr. Stanley Skinner to whom I welcome to the Board. Dr. Soto will continue contributing with his experience as past president.
Dr. Sedat Ulkatan has been commited to serve the ISIN for years and for that reason and due to his impeccable profile as a scientific researcher he has been deservedly chosen as president elect. Dr. Gea Drost has managed with virtuosity the society affairs in the past mandate and she will continue being our secretary. Dr. Elif Ilgaz has finished her dedication as treasurer showing an unquestionable capability of organization, keeping our society economically healthy. She will continue in the board as part of the “Membership committee” together with Dr. Julian Prell who becomes one of our delegates. Dr. Andrea Szelenyi will take over the treasurer position. I am sure she will develop this new role accurately due to her large experience within the Board as past President. Dr. Xabier Urriza made a terrific work designing the program for the educational courses that were embrace with enthusiasm by the attendees; he will continue leading the ISIN educational committee together with Dr. Mirella Simon. As recognition to her impressive contribution to new methodologies in IONM and her dedication to ISIN, Dr. Kathleen Seidel becomes a member of the ISIN scientific committee together with Dr. David MacDonald and Dr. Stanley Skinner. Dr. Karl Kothbauer, ISIN former President, becomes a delegate taking care of our bylaws. Dr. Kyung Seok Park and Dr. Francesco Sala constitute the committee by liaison and will try to make connections with other international societies. Due to the rapid progress in technology we found necessary to create the artificial intelligence committee that will be lead by Dr. Jeff Arle and Dr. Ana Mirallave. Professor Deletis, founder of our society, will work on our historical records. Finally Dr. Jay Shils joins our board as the future host of our next Congress and Educational course that will take place in the beautiful and exciting city of Chicago. We much appreciate him for taking that responsibility.

It honors me to head the ISIN with this Board whose members satisfy two essential qualities; strong scientific practice and humbleness in the same proportion. We all are determined to work hard making the ISIN old dreams come true. As Nelson Mandela said “It always seems impossible until it is done”. With this spirit, I encourage you to personally contact me if you have suggestions or questions regarding our organization, or if you like to participate in our activities and you do not know how to proceed.

 

Yours sincerely,

Isabel Fernández-Conejero
ISIN President

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