Lee A. Christoferson
Neurosurgery is a medical specialty that focuses on surgical treatments for neurological disorders. The first recorded neurosurgical procedure was trepanning, which involved drilling a hole in the top of the skull to drain evil spirits. This crude procedure was the only form of neurosurgery until the 19th century, when scientists began to experiment with removing a portion of the skull to operate on the brain directly. However, these first procedures were very dangerous and had a survival rate of only 10%. Then came Harvey Cushing, the father of modern neurosurgery. Cushing developed techniques that increased the survival rate to over 90%.
On his date in 1921, around the time that Cushing created the new procedures, Lee A. Christoferson was born in Bemidji, Minnesota. He would grow up to become one of North Dakota's best neurosurgeons. Christoferson graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1945. He joined the U.S. Army and was assigned to the Neurosurgical Service at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. He served for two years before resuming his studies.
In 1951 he received a Master of Science in neurosurgery. At that time he moved to Fargo with his wife and helped pioneer the practice of neurosurgery between Minneapolis and Seattle. He began recruiting physicians who studied neuroscience and formed Neurologic Associates. He also envisioned and help founded the Neuropsychiatric Institute in South Fargo, which has worked to provide resources for neurosurgery in North Dakota. In addition to being a physician, he was also a professor at the University of North Dakota and was an integral part of the fight to establish a medical program there.
He practiced neurosurgery for 35 years in Fargo, and during that time served as a member of many neurological groups and received numerous awards, including the North Dakota State Medical Association Award for Outstanding Medical and Community Service.
Dr. Lee Christoferson passed away in Fargo on March 19th, 2000 at the age of 78.
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