August 17, 1999
"A master clinician." "A neurologist's neurologist." Thomas J. Preziosi's medical colleagues at Johns Hopkins leave no doubt about their esteem for the man who taught many of the hospital's present neurologists. Preziosi died Saturday at age 75 of injuries following an automobile accident on July 16.
"He was the person everybody called whenever they needed help with a complex case," says Donlin Long, M.D., Ph.D., head of Neurosurgery at Hopkins and long time friend. Preziosi came to the hospital in 1956, fresh from McGill University, as an instructor in neurology before the department formally existed. He gained a quick reputation for his gifts in patient diagnosis; "He could spot diagnostic red herrings faster than anyone I knew," says one colleague. "Tom also had a large pool of patients who were extraordinarily fond of him," adds Guy McKhann, M.D., former head of Neurology and present director of the Krieger Mind/Brain Institute.
"He also developed an interest in stroke and in the importance of having stroke teams long before those ideas became popular," adds Richard S. Ross, M.D., Dean Emeritus of the Hopkins School of Medicine.
Preziosi's lab studies emphasized patient care. He was key in discovering that the small, stroke-like transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) many older patients experience often predict onset of the real thing -- a realization that's saved the lives of hundreds of potential stroke victims. He was the first to describe the effects of carbon monoxide on the brain in precise detail. His work with colleague George Allen on carotid endarterectomies -- a "roto-rooter-like" process to remove plaque from arteries to the brain -- saved lives by proving the technique could prevent stroke.
Preziosi was born in Quebec City, Canada. He is survived by his wife, Perella, and four grown children.