Fredrick John Seil, MD
Fredrick John Seil, MD was born on November 9, 1933 of German parentage in the town of Neu schowe (Nove Sove) in the former Yugoslavia (now Ravno Selo, Serbia). He emigrated with his family to the United States in March of 1938.
The first four years in the USA were spent in Marysville, Ohio, where Dr. Seil began his formal education. The family subsequently moved to Cleveland, Ohio. While a student at Wilson Junior High School and a member of Boy Scout Troop 113, Dr. Sell was offered a scholarship to Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts after a competition among Boy Scout troops in Cleveland.
After graduation from Andover in 1952, Dr. Seil martriculated to Oberlin College as a premedical major. He married a classmate, Daryle Faith Wolfers, on July2, 1955, a year prior to their graduation from Oberlin. Best man at the wedding was Frank M. Yatsu, a friend since junior high school and a fellow Andover scholarship recipient. After receiving their AB degrees in 1930, the couple headed west where Fredrick Seil attended the Stanford University School of Medicine. The MD degree was conferred in 1960, after which Dr Seil spent a year at the Kaiser Foundation Hospital in San Francisco as a rotating intern. He returned to Stanford as a resident in Neurology, finishing in 1964. He remained at Stanford for another year as a National Institutes of Health fellow in Electroencephalography and Neuropathology.
NIH fellowship support continued in 1965 for training in nerve tissue culture at the Mt Sinai Hospital in New York and subsequently at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. In 1966 Dr. Seil was drafted into the U. S. Army Medical Corps and assigned to the Neuropathology Branch of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC. While there, Dr. Seil divided his time between clinical Neuropathology at the APIP and research using nerve tissue culture methodology at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland. At the NIH Dr. Seil began a series of studies dealing with antimyelin antibodies and their relationship to experimental and clinical demyelinating disorders such as multiple sclerosis.
After discharge from the U.S. Army in 1968, Dr. Seil returned to Stanford as a Junior faculty member. He established a tissue culture laboratory at the Palo Alto VA Medical Center, where he continued with studies of antimyelin antibodies. He also initiated a series of studies of anatomical and developmental features of cerebellar and cerebral neocortical cultures. In 1976 Dr. Seil moved his laboratory to the Portland, Oregon VA Medical Center and joined the faculty of the Department ofNeurology, newly chaired by old friend Dr. Frank M. Yatsu, of what is now known as the Oregon Health & Science University. In Oregon Dr. Seil continued work on myelin antigens and induction of antimyelin antibodies and expanded his studies to include investigations on mechanisms of circuit reorganization after injury. Studies in tissue cultures of circuit rerouting after loss of some elements and reversal after addition of the missing elements became a major focus of the laboratory for the next 22 years. Later inclusions were associated studies on activity-dependent neuroplasticity, which were focused on the requirement for neural activity for the full development of inhibitory circuitry.
In 1981, after national competition, Dr. Seil was appointed Director of the VA Office of Regeneration Research Programs (ORRP), the purpose of which was to promote regeneration research in the entire VA system. Although responsible to VA Central Office in Washington, DC, the ORRP was located at the Portland, Oregon VA Medical Center and funds were provided for its maintenance. Dr. Sell decided that one of the better ways to promote regeneration research was to organize and support symposia on regeneration research and to edit and publish a Regeneration Research Newsletter in which symposium presentations were announced and summarized. After a small symposium primarily on neural regeneration in Portland in 1981, a substantial symposium on regeneration in multiple organ systems, co-sponsored by the VA and the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), was held in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in 1982. With strong encouragement from the PVA, It was decided to emphasize the nervous system in future symposia, to locate the symposia at a specific accessible site and to invite speakers from other countries. The first of the International Symposia on Neural Regeneration was held in 1985 at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, California and additional sponsors were added, including the National Institutes of Health. The symposia became a highly successful biennial event that continues to this day. During Dr. Seil's tenure as symposium director, which went through the 1999 symposium, the proceedings of all of the meetings except the 1997 symposium were published in book form with Dr. Seil as editor or co-editor. As these symposia gathered attention in Asia, but could not be attended by many Asians because of financial constraints, Dr. Seil co-founded the Asia Pacific Symposium on Neural Regeneration, the first of which was held in Hong Kong in 1998. Subsequent biennial symposia have been held at various sites in Asia, including X'ian, China, Perth, Australia, Osaka, Japan and Singapore, to name a few. The symposia in Asia dovetailed with the symposia at Asilomar, occurring in opposite numbered years.
Although research was Dr. Seil's major focus, he was also active in teaching clinical Neurology to medical students and Neurology residents and in training fellows in nerve tissue culture. Two of his fellows distinguished themselves, one by becoming Chief of Neurology at the Portland VA Medical Center and the other by chairing the Department of Neurology at the Oregon Health & Science University for 20 years. Dr. Sei was very proud of both of their achievements.
Dr. Seil retired in July, 2001 but continued to attend professional meetings and write reviews of work from his former laboratory. His wife of 50 years died of cancer in 2005. In 2006 Dr. Seil moved to Berkeley, California to live with Ms. Lannon Leiman, widow of Dr. Seil's longtime research collaborator, Dr. Arnold Leiman. Dr Seil ended his years in Berkeley. He is survived by two sons, Jonathan F. Seil of Shelton, Washington and J.P. Timothy Seil of Portland, Oregon, two grandchildren, and a sister Rose Brown of Cleveland, Ohio and her family.