Following a 50-year career as a basic and translational scientist, UAB Department of Neurosurgery Professor Emeritus G. Yancey Gillespie, Ph.D., will retire on June 30, 2022.

Gillespie officially joined UAB in 1986 as a tenured associate professor of surgery to direct brain tumor research efforts in the then Division of Neurosurgery and to help establish the Neuro-Oncology Program in the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB.

In addition to his appointment in the Department of Neurosurgery, Gillespie also had secondary appointments in the Departments of Microbiology and Cell, Developmental & Integrative Biology.

Gillespie was the director of the UAB Brain Tumor Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) and co-leader of the Neuro-Oncology Program in the cancer center. In addition to these leadership roles, Gillespie was instrumental in directing both the Brain Tumor Tissue Core and the Brain Tumor Animal Models Core facilities.

Gillespie’s road to becoming a widely-respected researcher began at the University of Mississippi, where he started as an undergraduate and finished with a Ph.D.

Gillespie obtained his bachelor’s as well as his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Mississippi, finishing in 1971. Following a NCI F32 postdoctoral fellowship at the Kansas University Medical Center, he was appointed to the Department of Pathology as instructor.

In 1975, Gillespie joined Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla. In 1977, he moved as Assistant Professor of Pathology to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In 1979, he transferred to the Department of Surgery, Division of Neurosurgery to direct the Brain Tumor Immunology research program.

The UAB Department of Neurosurgery is grateful to Dr. Gillespie for his many years of service to the department, the institution, and the field of neuro-oncology. The department notes his dedication to research and to the training of future surgeon-scientists who will continue his legacy in the field. Congratulations, Dr. Gillespie.

The Legacy of Dr. Gillespie

“When I began working at UAB in 2003, I had no animal research experience. Dr. Gillespie took me under his wing to teach me everything I know about handling mice, performing surgeries on neonates and adult mice, as well as the myriad of techniques needed to complete delicate necropsies. He explained each step calmly and precisely making my nervousness dissipate as I soaked up all of his knowledge and humorous anecdotes. He was extremely patient and kind with me through my various embarrassing mishaps such as nearly passing out after entering a mouse holding room containing 3 full racks of mice for the first time, or when I tried to pretend I wasn’t teary-eyed during my first few neonate experiments. Luckily, I was able to grasp the larger picture on why these experiment were necessary to advance our understanding of oncolytic viral treatment of glioblastoma. Every aspect of my research knowledge and experience has been touched by Dr. Gillespie in some positive manner.He has left a lasting legacy for those who were lucky enough to train with him to soak up his vast knowledge of brain tumor research.” - Jennifer Clements


“When I arrived at UAB, Yancey became a key member of my mentoring team, and I saw how much he contributed to the longstanding success of the Neurooncology Program. He is incredibly generous with his time and always willing to share his expertise to ensure our research has the greatest impact on patient care.  Yancey has been instrumental in my success and the success of many others in our field who will always be grateful for his support. I am glad that Yancey can enjoy his retirement, but he will be greatly missed here.” Anita Hjelmeland, Ph.D.


“I owe a lot to Yancey. When I first came to UAB, he was the first person to support my intention to get a kinomics platform (PamStation 12) at UAB. Within weeks of installing the system, he generously pulled me, a very junior investigator, into a large research project with Southern Research Institute to utilize the PamStation to study glioblastoma. He quickly became a mentor to me and later became a great colleague. Yancey is so friendly, supportive, and insightful. He can see the big picture and recognizes excellent opportunities. He is so willing to help others and has influenced countless investigators. I know that I would not be where I am today without him. I will undoubtedly miss my frequent conversations with him on our research projects. I wish him beautiful days ahead in his well-earned retirement.” - Christopher D. Willey, MD, PhD


If you wish to give in honor of Dr. Gillespie, please consider giving to the Dr. Yancey Gillespie Endowed Faculty Scholar in Neurosurgery fund. If you are a former trainee or colleague of Dr. Gillespie, we encourage you to submit your note of gratitude to nsgycomm@uabmc.edu.