Kenneth Heilman

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Kenneth Heilman
Born1938 (age 82–83)
NationalityUnited States
Alma materCornell University
University of Virginia
Scientific career
FieldsBehavioral neurology
InstitutionsUniversity of Florida

Kenneth M. Heilman (born 1938) is an American behavioral neurologist. He is considered one of the fathers of modern-day behavioral neurology.

Early life and career[edit]

Heilman was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He attended the University of Virginia and graduated from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in 1963.[1]

He did two years of residency in internal medicine at Cornell University Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital. During the Vietnam War era, he joined the Air Force and served as chief of medicine at the NATO Hospital in Izmir, Turkey from 1965 to 1967. After leaving the Air Force, Heilman went for residency in neurology at Harvard Medical School under Derek Denny-Brown and then continued there in a fellowship with Norman Geschwind.[1]

Upon completion of his fellowship, Heilman was recruited by the chairman of the department of neurology, Melvin Greer, and joined the faculty of the University of Florida Department of Neurology in 1970 as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1973 and Professor in 1975. He became the first James E. Rooks, Jr. Professor of Neurology in 1990, a newly endowed chair at the university. In 1998, he was among the first UF faculty to receive the title of Distinguished Professor. Heilman is also the program director and was chief of neurology at the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Administration Hospital (Malcom Randall VAMC). He is also a professor of Clinical and Health Psychology at the UF.[1]

Clinical activity[edit]

Heilman is an active clinician who is Director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at UF/Shands, one of the 15 Memory Disorder Clinics supported by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. This clinic serves those with memory and cognitive disorders, especially those suffering from dementias such as Alzheimer's disease. His expertise as a clinician has been recognized by being listed in virtually every edition of the Best Doctors in America as well as other publications citing clinical excellence.

Research and teaching[edit]

Heilman has research interests in attentional, emotional and cognitive disorders. In addition to teaching medical and psychology students, he is active in resident education and been director of the University of Florida Behavioral Neurology Fellowship, which has trained many dozens of post doctoral fellows since its inception in 1976. Several of Heilman's former fellows are now leaders in academic neurology, neuropsychology, speech therapy, and other allied fields. Heilman is the author of several texts, and has authored or co-authored more than 500 articles in peer-reviewed journals as well as multiple chapters and fourteen books. His research has been almost continuously funded by federal agencies (e.g., VA Merit Review and/or National Institutes of Health) for the last 35 years. In recognition of his research contributions, he was in the first group of individuals to receive the University of Florida Research Foundation Professorships. Heilman also received the Clinical Research Award from the University of Florida College of Medicine. The Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology Society has recognized him with an Outstanding Achievement Award for his research and educational contributions to Neurology. He received the Wartenberg Award from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). He is honorary member of the American Neurological Association and an AAN fellow.[2]

One of Heilman's most recent books, on the neurology of creativity, is dedicated to the nearly 100 fellows he has had who have published with him. Heilman is lionized by his former fellows, whose cross collaborations are usually based on one or another of Heilman's creative expressions.

Academic leadership[edit]

Heilman has served as president of the International Neuropsychology Society and the Society for Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology.[3]

Research advances[edit]

Research advances reported by Heilman and co-workers demonstrated that:

  • A cortico-limbic-reticular network mediates attention.
  • In most people, the right hemisphere is dominant for attending to both sides of space (see hemispatial neglect).
  • In most people, it was the right hemisphere of the brain that was important for emotional communication (prosody).
  • Skilled movement (praxis), such as tool use, is controlled in most people by a left hemisphere modular network where the parietal lobe contains the representations of the spatial trajectories for these skilled movements, and the frontal lobe transforms this into motor codes.
  • The right hemisphere's parietal lobe controls the autonomic nervous system.
  • First to describe orthostatic tremor.

Author and editor[edit]

Books written or edited by Kenneth Heilman:

  • The Believer's Brain: Home of the Spiritual and Religious Mind: Kenneth M. Heilman and Russell Donda, Psychology Press, 2014.
  • Matter of Mind: A Neurologist's View of Brain-behavior Relationships: Kenneth M. Heilman, Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • PGY1: Lessons in Caring: Kenneth M. Heilman, Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • Creativity and the Brain: Kenneth M. Heilman, Psychology Press, 2005.
  • Clinical Neuropsychology: Fifth Edition, Kenneth M. Heilman and Edward Valenstein (Editors), 2012.
  • Apraxia Leslis J Gonzalez-Rothi and Kenneth M. Heilman (Editors), Taylor & Francis London UK, 1997.
  • Neuropsychology of Human Emotion: Distinguished Contributions in Psychology, Kenneth M. Heilman & Paul Satz (Editors), Guilford Press, 1983.
  • Handbook for Differential Diagnosis of Neurologic Sign and Symptoms Kenneth M. Heilman, Robert T. Watson, and Melvin Greer, Appleton-Century-Croft, 1977.


  1. ^ a b c "Kenneth M Heilman, MD - Background". University of Florida Health. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  2. ^ "Interview with Kenneth M. Heilman, MD" (PDF). American Academy of Neurology. November 4, 2013.
  3. ^ "History of SBCN". Society for Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology. Retrieved December 20, 2019.

External links[edit]