Robert Wheeler Rand, Ph.D., J.D., M.D.
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January 28, 1923 – December 14, 2013
Dr. Robert W. Rand passed away peacefully at his home on December 14, 2013, at the age of 90, with his family at his side. Dr. Rand was the son of Carl W. Rand, M.D., who was one of the world's first brain surgeons (neurosurgeons). Robert Rand, M.D. followed his father's pathway and became a nationally and internationally respected neurosurgeon, a founding member and Professor of Neurosurgery on the faculty in the Department of Neurosurgery at UCLA. He received a Professional Achievement Award from UCLA in 1975. Dr. Rand authored approximately three hundred scientific articles, presented almost four hundred scientific lectures around the world, wrote eight major textbooks on subjects in neurosurgery and was recognized as one of the most prominent and creative surgeons of the 20th Century. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International College of Surgeons in 1995.
Dr. Rand was an extraordinarily innovative surgeon, never settling for the status quo. He is credited with introducing the surgical microscope into neurosurgical procedures, a practice which is now commonplace and allows the surgeon to perform delicate and precise procedures within the brain and spinal cord. This entirely new field was named "Microneurosurgery" by Dr. Rand who wrote the first published article on the subject and wrote numerous textbooks on the subject of Microneurosurgery. Dr. Rand's introduction of Microneurosurgery literally changed forever the field of neurosurgery and has benefitted countless numbers of patients worldwide over the past 50 years.
Dr. Rand's energy was boundless in the search for new and creative solutions to difficult surgical problems. He created and performed numerous previously undescribed surgeries on the brain including a new approach to the removal of acoustic tumors that spared vital nerves for facial muscle function that were routinely sacrificed in older techniques.
Dr. Rand personally performed over 2,000 surgeries for the treatment of Parkinson's Disease in which he used cryosurgery and selectively froze portions of the thalamus deep within the brain. Tremors were either relieved substantially or completely eliminated in many cases. Dr. Rand also utilized cryosurgery to treat thousands of patients with tumors of the pituitary gland.
In conjunction with the scientists at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in Palo Alto, CA, he created and built a Superconducting Magnet which would hold a liquid silicone-iron compound in position deep within the brain while it solidified, thus obliterating blood vessel malformations which could not be accessed by traditional surgical methods.
At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, Dr. Rand was assisted by physicists to create the instrumentation for another novel procedure he called Thermomagnetic Surgery. In this treatment, cancerous organs such as the uterus or kidney would be selectively heated and destroyed without damaging the surrounding tissues. In theory, this would prevent the spread of cancerous cells into the body or blood stream when the malignant organs were removed surgically because the cancers were already dead prior to their removal.
Dr. Rand, through his close relationship with its inventor, brought the first Gamma Knife into the United States and gifted it to UCLA School of Medicine. The Gamma Knife offers highly selective radiation to pinpoint targets in the brain thus avoiding surrounding tissue damage. Gamma Knife treatments are now commonplace throughout the United States. Dr. Rand also subsequently conceived and designed the Cobalt Scalpel to use the same principles of highly focused radiation for treatment of cancers outside the brain, such as prostate cancer, sparing surrounding normal tissues from injury.
Dr. Rand's interests in helping patients were clearly not confined to the field of neurosurgery. He described microsurgery of the common bile duct. He also developed and was the first to publish a paper on a new procedure he termed "Cryolumpectomy" in which breast lumps are frozen before their removal. The freezing of the breast lumps doesn't preclude proper identification of cancers, but it does potentially prevent their spread during biopsy or removal.
A native of Los Angeles, Dr. Rand grew up surfing on redwood surfboards, was awarded the level of Eagle Scout, and was an exceptional student. He matriculated to Harvard University, and subsequently graduated from USC School of Medicine with his M.D. degree. He then trained in neurosurgery at the University of Michigan where he received a Masters Degree in Surgery. Under the guidance of Dr. Elizabeth Crosby, one of the most respected neuroanatomists of her time, Dr. Rand received a Ph.D. in Neuroanatomy at the University of Michigan, completing the advanced degree in only one year. Dr. Rand very proudly served in the U.S. Navy in the V-12 Program and completed his service at the rank of Lt. Commander.
While at the University of Michigan, he met Helen Louise Pierce, his loving and beloved wife of 63 years. He is survived by his wife, Helen, and their sons, Carl Wheeler Rand II (Lori E. Rand), and Richard Pierce Rand, M.D. (Laurel P. Rand); four grandchildren, Lindsay Pierce Rand, Robert Prentice Rand, Richard Pierce Rand, Jr., and Emily Elizabeth Rand; and his sisters Mrs. S. C. McCulloch and Mrs. O. W. Day.
After retiring from UCLA as Professor Emeritus, Dr. Rand performed Gamma Knife therapies at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles and at the Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach, CA. He also joined the staff at the John Wayne Cancer Center in Santa Monica as an Associate Medical Director and performed research and clinical trials on the use of immunotherapy for the treatment of malignant brain tumors.
In his later years, his focus turned to family time which he dearly cherished. His was a most powerful influence and his life was a source of example, strength and inspiration. His stories, words of advice on all subjects, and his constant encouragement will truly be missed but will remain in our hearts forever.
Private memorial services will be held.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 22, 2013