Thurston Award and Lecture

In honor of Jean Holowach Thurston, MD, a pioneer in child seizure disorders

3rd Annual Jean Holowach Thurston Lecture

May 19, 2023

12:00 pm

NWT Neuro Office Suite Conference Room, 12th floor | Zoom conference

Kristin Guilliams, MD

Associate Professor
WashU Neurology

“Crossing the Blood Brain Barrier: ​
Learning about Brain Metabolism
from Children with Sickle Cell Disease”

The Third Annual Jean Holowach Thurston Lecture is hosted by the St. Louis Children’s Hospital (SLCH) and the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC)

For inquiries contact Dorothy Campbell.

Jean Holowach Thurston, MD, was a pioneering pediatric neurologist and professor of pediatrics and of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine. Since midcentury, Thurston’s influential research in pediatric neurology served as a guide for colleagues in treating childhood seizure disorders. She led long-term studies examining anticonvulsant withdrawal in pediatric patients with epilepsy, a chronic condition that causes seizures. Thurston’s research, published in 1972 in The New England Journal of Medicine, identified seizure recurrence risks. Those findings contributed to treatment therapies and diagnostic tools for childhood epilepsy, and the findings remain relevant today.

Jean Holowach Thurston, MD

Besides epilepsy, Thurston published multiple studies on brain metabolism and neurochemistry that served as a foundation for subsequent research on childhood metabolic disorders. Additionally, she published research papers on gastrointestinal diseases, hypoglycemia, pediatric cancer and, in another pioneering study in The New England Journal of Medicine, Thurston was the first to document in medical literature the association between breath holding and anemia.

Born and raised in Edmonton, Canada, Thurston earned her bachelor’s and medical degrees from the University of Alberta in Edmonton in 1938 and 1941, respectively. Afterward, she practiced pediatrics in Calgary, Canada, until 1945, when she accepted a two-year fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine. Following the fellowship, Thurston returned to Edmonton to work in a private pediatrics practice before she permanently relocated to St. Louis in 1949 to accept a faculty appointment in the Department of Pediatrics. She became a professor of pediatrics in 1975 and a professor of neurology in 1982. She was named a professor emerita in 1987. However, Thurston continued research, establishing her own neurochemistry lab, publishing her last paper at age 78 and attending professional seminars until a year before her death.

Thurston consulted with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and served as a director of several pediatric clinics and programs. She received dozens of awards, including the Fomon-Peterson Founders Award from the Midwest Society for Pediatric Research in 1990 and the first lifetime achievement award by the Child Neurology Society, in 2004.

Read Dr. Thurston’s obituary published on the Washington University School of Medicine News.

A history of Thurston Awards

2022: Kristin Guilliams (WashU Neurology)

2021: Michael Wong (WashU Neurology)

2021: Christina Gurnett (WashU Neurology)