Dear Colleagues and Friends,
It is with a sad heart that I announce the passing of Dr. Vedran Deletis, a leader, colleague, mentor and friend. Dr. Deletis was suddenly taken from us just days ago on September 12th. Our community has not only lost a prominent figure in our field but also someone who loved his work as well as life itself.
Vedran originally trained as a neurologist and practiced in Europe. After coming to the US, he obtained his PhD in Clinical Neurophysiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX. Eventually he took a position in New York city and became the long-time collaborator there with the neurosurgeon Dr. Fred Epstein at Beth Israel Medical Center. This notable partnership would develop the intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring that eventually lead to the historical publications of work in pediatric spinal cord tumor surgery and the characterization of the so-called ‘D-Wave’, or direct wave, that predicted motor recovery after surgery better than any other measurements and is still the standard technique in use today.
During this time, he also began hosting many fellows from several disciplines – neurosurgeons, neurologists, and physiologists – who came to learn the best practices in IONM. I met Vedran when I took a position there as well and learned an enormous amount from him as we eventually came to collaborate on many projects together, including his mentorship and shepherding one of the leading texts in IONM, which continues now in its second edition. He became an Associate Professor at Albert Einstein college of Medicine and further instantiated his training program, creating the internationally renowned IONM fellowship that has graduated over 30 fellows from 15 countries, many of whom have gone on to run their own fellowship programs and pursue important scientific advancements in the field of IONM. Future generations of IONM leaders will be able to trace their lineage back to Dr. Deletis and his incredible skill as a teacher and mentor.
Vedran himself published over 100 papers dedicated to the field of Intraoperative neuromonitoring during his career, averaging over 300 citations per year. He gave hundreds of invited lectures around the world, helping guide even more people in the art and science of IONM, and was a familiar fixture and beacon of insight at IONM meetings for decades.
Dr. Deletis was a founding member of both the ASNM and the founding president of the ISIN. In fact, he had run a series of highly successful IONM meetings in New York City that were ultimately the precursor to the ISIN. He was the recipient of the Richard Brown lifetime achievement award from the ASNM.
Vedran was not only a scientist and clinician. He was also a humanitarian and politician. He spent time as a doctor in Croatia during their war for independence and became the deputy mayor of Stari Grad, his family’s ancestral home, of which he was extremely proud and carried a reputation for never backing down from his convictions. In addition, he somehow found time to support a Croatian choir that sang classic Croatian music, had them professionally recorded, and sometimes traveled with them as they toured the world. As well, one of his passions was his vineyard, where he created wines, grappa and brandies.
I had just spent a week with Vedran and colleagues from around the world at an IONM task force looking at future methodologies that Vedran organized, leaving him only two days prior to this unexpected news. He seemed to be in good health, as we discussed recent work he was still pursuing with several of our long-term colleagues, and drank the products of his vineyards he cultivated on his property on the island of Hvar, Croatia. Though we have lost a giant in our field, the fruits of Dr. Deletis’ work continue in the work we all do every day. Vedran will be greatly missed but his memory and IONM lineage will live on forever.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Vinka and four children as well as multiple grandchildren.
Jay L. Shils & Jeffrey E. Arle