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Leo Max Davidoff

Born  1898
Died  1975

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American neurosurgeon, born January 16, 1898, Talsen, Latvia; died December 23, 1975.

Biography of Leo Max Davidoff

Leo Max Davidoff was eight years old when his family emigrated from Latvia and settles in Salem, Massachusetts. He was graduated from Harvard Medical School – M.D., cum laude – in 1922. He served an internship in paediatrics at the Boston City Hospital, followed by an internship in general surgery and residency in neurological surgery, both at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital.

During June-October 1925 he took a break from his training to serve as Surgeon to the Byrd-MacMillan Arctic Expedition. This expedition to western Greenland under Commander Donald Baxter MacMillan (1874-1970) was the beginning of Richard Evelyn Byrd's (1888-1957) spectacular career as a polar aviator.

In 1926-1927 a Peter bent Brigham Travelling Fellowship enabled him to spend six months in a clinical clerkship under Gordon Morgan Holmes (1876-1965) at the National Hospital, Queen’s Square, London, and another six months in neuropathology at the Staatskrankenanstalt, Friedrichsberg, Hamburg, as volunteer assistant to Alfons Maria Jakob (1884-1931).

In 1927 Davidoff joined the staff of the New York State Psychiatric Institute as a research assistant in neuropathology. During the years 1929 to 1937 he was with the neurosurgical staff of the New York Neurological Institute. In 1937, he was appointed Chief of Surgery, and Attending Neurosurgeon, at the Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn. He remained there until 1945, when he went to Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, first as Attending Neurological Surgeon and later as Chief of the Division of Neurological Surgery.

In 1949, Davidoff became the Director of Neurological Surgery at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City, serving also as neurosurgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital. In 1956, he resigned to return to Montefiore Hospital as Attending Neurosurgeon and, in 1958, became Consultant in Neurosurgery there, until his retirement in 1966.

His academic appointments included: Professor of Clinical Neurological Surgery, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University (1945-1949); Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, New York University College of Medicine (1949-1954); Professor and Chairman, Department of Surgery, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, New York (1954-1958); Professor and Chairman, Department of Neurological Surgery, Albert Einstein College of Medicine (1959-66, when he became Professor Emeritus); and Associate Dean, Albert Einstein College of Medicine (1961-1966).

His final years were made difficult by serious Parkinsonism, but he continued to participate in seminars and teaching conferences. He was married to the former Ida Alice Fisher, and they had four children.

Davidoff published over 200 papers and 12 books.

This biography of Leo Max Davidoff is based on an article on the website of The Society of Neurological Surgeons: http://www.societyns.org/society/bio.aspx?MemberID=7444

We thank Franklin Moser for information sugmitted.


  • Leo M. Davidoff and Cornelius G. Dyke:
    The Normal Encephalogram.
    Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1937. Illustrated by 149 engravings.
    A presentation of the fundamental use of encephalography based on 4000 cases and a review of the literature.
  • Leo M. Davidoff and Bernard S. Epstein:
    The Abnormal Pneumoencephalogram.
    Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1950. 695 illustrations.
    Davidoff was a pioneer in pneumoencephalography.

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