Dr. Sumio Uematsu, neurometrics pioneer

January 29, 1994

Dr. Sumio Uematsu, associate professor of neurological medicine at the Johns Hopkins University medical school, surgeon and founder and director of the hospital's Neurometric Laboratory, died Tuesday in his sleep at his Lutherville home of causes that have yet to be determined.

Dr. Uematsu, who was 59 and had been a member of the faculty since 1970, was also an associate professor of radiology.

He did surgery to relieve spinal problems for dwarfs and to treat epilepsy and was a pioneer in mapping functions of the brain during epilepsy surgery.

Dr. Michael E. Johns, dean of the medical school, described him as "an eminent member of the faculty and an enormously skilled surgeon," adding that his "contributions to medical science and his devotion to his patients will be remembered."

Dr. Donlin M. Long, neurosurgeon in chief at the hospital, said, "He founded a laboratory of neurometrics unique at the time for using technological ways to measure function of the nervous system, including ultrasound, temperature change and electrical conductivity."

Dr. Uematsu designed a highly sensitive, computerized skin-temperature test for numbness or changes of sensation in the limbs caused by nerve injury. It was based on the principle that nerve damage is accompanied by changes in blood flow to the area.

Among other studies he conducted were the use of ultrasound in testing for brain death and the use of a noninvasive device developed in Japan to measure blood flow to the brain.

Dr. Uematsu was a former president and a fellow of the American Academy of Thermology and was editor of its journal. He had also held office in the World Federation of Neurology and the International College of Thermology.

He wrote articles and books and was a frequent speaker at medical meetings. He was a visiting professor at Kurume University School of Medicine and the Nippon Medical School, both in Japan.

He was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and was certified as a specialist by three professional groups.

A native of Yamanashi, Japan, he missed his 1959 medical school graduation at Juntendo University in Tokyo when he and other members of the university's climbing club were trapped by a whiteout on a mountain during a climbing trip and holed up in a shack until they could hike out nearly a week late.

He served an internship and residency in Tokyo before coming to the United States in 1962 to complete a rotating internship and a residency in general surgery at the Illinois Masonic Hospital in Chicago.

He came to Baltimore in 1964 to complete a residency in neurosurgery at Hopkins, where he became the chief resident in 1969.

Services were set for 10 a.m. today at the Hartsler-Gutermuth Funeral Home in Elkhart, Ind.

Dr. Uematsu is survived by his wife, the former Janet Pfeiffer; two sons, John Uematsu of New Freedom, Pa., and Ken Uematsu of Washington, D.C.; a daughter, Mikas Uematsu of Lutherville; five brothers and a sister in Japan; and a grandson.

Memorial donations may be made to the Uematsu Skeletal Dysplasia Fund or the Uematsu Memorial Research Fund at Hopkins Hospital.

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