Pediatric neurosurgeon Tae Sung Park, MD, one of the top neurosurgeons worldwide in his field, has been named the Margery Campbell Fort Professor of Neurological Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The professorship was established by St. Louis philanthropist and businessman Jeffrey Fort in memory of his mother, Margery Fort, who died in May 2018. The honor recognizes Park’s pioneering work improving several neurosurgical procedures for children.
“Dr. Park is one of the world’s leading pediatric neurosurgeons,” said David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs, the George and Carol Bauer Dean of the School of Medicine, and the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor. “What T.S. has done is the dream of every clinician: to innovate in clinical practice and have meaningful impact on patients. I am delighted to recognize his accomplishments with this professorship that was established due to the generosity of Jeffrey Fort, whose gifts to the School of Medicine have provided significant and vital support for scientific discovery.”
Park was installed Oct. 5 by Perlmutter and Gregory J. Zipfel, MD, the Ralph G. Dacey Distinguished Professor of Neurological Surgery and head of the Department of Neurosurgery.
Park is best known for his work refining and enhancing the selective dorsal rhizotomy, a surgical treatment for muscle stiffness associated with cerebral palsy. Muscle stiffness, or spasticity, caused by damage to the brain can make movement difficult for people with cerebral palsy. In 1987, Park started a program at the University of Virginia to treat cerebral palsy spasticity with selective dorsal rhizotomies and moved the program to St. Louis Children’s Hospital in 1990. The procedure, which can be performed on children and adults, allows them to walk and move better, improving quality of life. He has performed 4,798 such surgeries — more than any other neurosurgeon in the world — on patients from more than 85 countries. In fact, Sept. 9, 2017, was proclaimed Dr. T.S. Park Day by the governor of Missouri and the mayor of St. Louis, in recognition of Park’s accomplishments bringing out-of-state and international patients to St. Louis for the surgery.
Park is also a professor of neuroscience and of pediatrics, and vice chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. He is the former director of pediatric neurosurgery at the School of Medicine and former neurosurgeon-in-chief at St. Louis Children’s.
“Dr. Park built the pediatric neurosurgery division into arguably the top pediatric neurosurgery division in the world,” Zipfel said. “His groundbreaking innovations to selective dorsal rhizotomy made the procedure not only much more effective but also minimally invasive. Surgeons come from far and wide to learn the procedure and bring it back to their communities. He is truly a master neurosurgeon.”
Fort established the professorship at the Department of Neurosurgery in gratitude for the care he received from Washington University physicians for a rare brain abnormality that threatened his life. The professorship is designated to support a faculty member in the area of pediatric neurosurgery.
Now retired, Fort was the co-owner and co-founder of Motive Creative, a digital production facility in Hollywood, Calif., that specializes in theatrical trailers and media campaigns. He also served as principal of Jeffrey T. Fort Investigations, which specializes in forensic work, witness interviews and expert-witness support.
A St. Louis-area native devoted to public service, Fort has served as an appointed and elected official in Frontenac, Mo., and is a commissioner for the Saint Louis Art Museum, where he served on the building committee that supported a recent $100 million expansion. A generous supporter of the School of Medicine, Fort previously made a $3 million gift to establish the Jeffrey T. Fort Innovation Fund in Neurological Surgery and provided gifts totaling $4 million to the John F. Hardesty, MD, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.