The MGH Neurology Department has its very own Wizard of Oz.

That wizard’s real name is John Stakes, MD, co-founder of the MGH Sleep Division and the Sleep Lab. Stakes was given the nickname by his friends and colleagues at the MGH because “He basically knows everything,” says Matt Bianchi, MD, chief of the Sleep Division.

Stakes is knowledgeable about all facets of Neurology – as well as most things in life, according to those with whom he worked. In honor of Stakes and his contributions to the MGH, the Neurology Department hosted a Symposium on Sleep Medicine, on Dec. 6.

The symposium featured a speaking program covering a variety of topics, including the history of several areas of the field: Sleep medicine, sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome and parasomnias. The symposium wrapped up with remarks from Stakes’ friends and colleagues.

“John knows just about all of neurology,” said Lee Schwamm, MD, executive vice chairman of Neurology. “You can go to him with a question pretty much about anything – inpatient, outpatient, sleep – whatever you could think of.”

Many have said Stakes is a cut above the rest. He is distinguished for his level of knowledge, but Stakes also is beloved throughout the hospital because of his kindness, generosity, unwavering work ethic and special ability to put others at ease.

“John’s inclusiveness of all aspects – whether it be psychological, neurological or medical – really is the best of this interdisciplinary field of sleep medicine,” said John Winkelman, MD, PhD, chief of the MGH Sleep Disorders Clinical Research Program. “That’s the idea of sleep medicine: You are not an ‘ologist of this, an ‘ologist of that. When we have a patient with a sleep problem, we approach it from many different perspectives. John taught us that and allowed us to be ourselves in this field.”

“John’s inclusiveness of all aspects – whether it be psychological, neurological or medical – really is the best of this interdisciplinary field of sleep medicine.” -John Winkelman, MD, PhD

Stakes earned his medical degree at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University in 1980 and completed his residency and fellowship at the MGH shortly thereafter. He also worked at Nantucket Cottage Hospital and Winchester Hospital, but spent most of his career at the MGH.

Among his many friends and colleagues at the symposium was Brit Nicholson, MD, senior vice president of Development and former chief medical officer who worked with Stakes for 38 years.

“As a clinician, as a colleague, as a representative of the hospital, the work that you have done to support so many other programs in addition to your work in Development, you have left an imprint on this hospital,” said Nicholson. “This is a debt that none of us can repay. I am so privileged and proud to have worked with you as a colleague and moreover, to be able to call you a friend.”



Read more articles from the 12/09/16 Hotline issue.