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The Dr. Alfonsina Q. Davies
Epilepsy Foundation
September 18, 2015 


Pediatric neurosurgeon appointed to endowed chair for epilepsy research

$2 million commitment from Tom and Nadia Davies honors their daughter — and a UCLA epilepsy pioneer


Dr. Gary Mathern says his goal in assuming the chair is “to put myself out of business” by finding ways to stop seizures in children.

Dr. Gary Mathern, whose expertise in complicated seizure disorders is sought after by peers and families around the globe, has been named by UCLA as the inaugural holder of the Dr. Alfonsina Q. Davies Endowed Chair in Honor of Paul Crandall, M.D., for Epilepsy Research.

Mathern, a professor of pediatric neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, was selected for his accomplishments in the field of pediatric epilepsy that reflect the early work of his mentor, Dr. Paul Crandall, who founded the epilepsy surgery research program at UCLA in 1960 and developed many of the diagnostic and surgical strategies hospitals around the world use today.

“It is a great honor for me to receive the endowed chair named after my mentor,” said Mathern, who is also the director of the pediatric epilepsy surgery program at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. “The chair will enable me to advance his pioneering work in the understanding and treatment of brain diseases that produce devastating seizures that cannot be controlled by medications. Stopping seizures at an early age is life-changing for the child and family, as exemplified in the case of Nina Davies.” 

Tom and Nadia Davies committed $2 million to establish the chair in memory of their late daughter, Alfonsina Davies, who was known as Nina. Nina battled intractable epilepsy for years before Crandall performed an experimental surgery in 1977 that controlled her seizures at age 17. She went on to earn a doctoral degree in education, become a teacher and, later, the assistant superintendent of the Santa Ana School District.

Throughout her career, Nina helped many children with disabilities and language barriers get a second chance at life. She passed away in 2011, after her seizures suddenly returned, but Nina’s legacy of helping children will live on through the endowed chair.
Tom and Nadia Davies with a portrait of Nina Davies
Todd Cheney/UCLA