W. Jerry Oakes was born and raised in a small sleepy railroad town, DeSoto, Missouri. His parents, Marvin and Mildred Oakes, owned and operated the town's variety store. His university education was at the University of Missouri-Columbia, graduating in 1968. He completed his medical school training in 1972 and neurosurgery residency in 1978, both at Duke University. While a student, he came under the influence of Guy Odom and was allowed to see the potential of an academic neurosurgical career. During his residency, he spent a year in Toronto, first in neurology and then in pediatric neurosurgery at the Hospital for Sick Children, coming into contact with its stimulating faculty of Robin Humphreys, Harold Hoffman, and Bruce Hendrick. Following the completion of his residency, he spent the next year in Europe; first at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London and then in Zurich with Professor Gazi Yasargil. Returning to Duke, he spent the next fourteen years, developing the pediatric neurosurgical service. In 1992, he and his family relocated to Birmingham, Alabama and the Children's Hospital where he is the Hendley Professor of Pediatric Neurosurgery. In the past twenty years, this service has grown and now has four full-time pediatric neurosurgeons with a busy clinical practice.
Along the way, he has produced more than 350 peer-reviewed papers and 50 book chapters. He has served as president of the Neurosurgical Society of Alabama and the Southern Neurosurgical Society. He has co-authored the textbook " The Chiari Malformations" to be published in 2013. In 2002, he became the editor of Pediatric Neurosurgery and president of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons. He served 12 years on the American Board of Pediatric Neurosurgery first as a director and then as vice-chair.
It has been his privilege to participate in the training of 26 pediatric neurosurgeons currently in practice.
Dr. Oakes sees patients at Children's Hospital of Alabama on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Appointments can be made by calling 205-638-9653.