sor of neurology say of a patient: “He’s just another epi [patient with epilepsy]. Give him some pills and get him out of here. He’s not interesting.” “I was appalled. Did they know what they’d just said?” says Dr. Kaufman. “Right then I decided I was going to go to medical school, because I knew something needed to change. These behaviors had to stop. I still didn’t know if I could practice because of my uncontrolled seizures, but I was determined to find out.” Dr. Kaufman earned a master’s degree in chemistry after his first year at Harvard; while continuing to move forward in his PhD studies, he was applying to medical schools. His thesis committee was astonished when he announced he would matriculate at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, instead of completing his PhD at Harvard. ficult challenges, he has shown great courage and resiliency.” D A Sporting Chance In his first year at Harvard, Dr. Kaufman overheard a professor say of a patient: “He’s just another epi [patient with epilepsy]. Give him some pills and get him out of here. He’s not interesting. I was appalled,” says Dr. Kaufman. “Right then I decided I was going to go to medical school, because I knew something needed to change.” In his third-year clinical rotations, he had an unexpected revelation: “After the first month of caring for patients, I realized I’d stopped having uncontrolled seizures,” he says. Improved seizure frequency provided an insight. “While I’d been concerned about the future, it turned out the solution was my enjoyment of the present: I loved caring for patients,” he says. “The stress was gone.” When Dr. Kaufman reconnected with Dr. Fox 10 years later, both her course and their many common interests solidified a friendship that now dates back almost 50 years. Describing Dr. Fox as his pivotal mentor, Dr. Kaufman says, “Not many people are so lucky as to have a five-decade mentor-mentee relationship.” “Ken is exceptionally empathetic, compassionate, and generous,” says Dr. Fox. “He is highly intelligent, with a wide-ranging intellect. He is thankful for all the good things in his professional and personal life. And, in the face of dif32 Robert Wood Johnson I MEDICINE r. Kaufman’s first seizure, as a 12-year-old, occurred in an era when epilepsy still carried a strong stigma, so his parents kept him out of athletics. They knew that if school officials learned of his disease, they would prohibit him from taking any science courses because of the perceived risks in laboratory settings. While he excelled academically, he knew that he was missing out on the socializing opportunities of athletics, especially team sports. “Sports play a therapeutic role for people with epilepsy, both physically and psychologically,” he says, “often destigmatizing their illness and bringing them out of the shadows.” At Columbia University, he took fencing and swimming. Later, in medical school, he enjoyed cricket and earned a gold medal in the sport at the 1989 Maccabiah Games; in 2001, he served as psychiatrist to the U.S. Maccabiah team. “Ken is committed to improving the health of people with epilepsy by expanding and promoting participation in sports, reducing depression, and building strength,” says Harvard’s Dr. Schachter. “He is a true champion for people with epilepsy, who long to be included, accepted, and valued—starting in their own homes.” Since 2011, Dr. Kaufman has been a member of the Task Force on Sports and Epilepsy of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), resulting in a recent consensus paper. Further, he supervised the North American component of Stand Up for Epilepsy, an ILAE project, during which he recruited elite athletes to be photographed with people with epilepsy, mainly children, teenagers, or young adults. The intent was to destigmatize the disease and show that people with epilepsy can achieve their goals, lead a full, active life, and engage in sports. “My investment into improving the well-being and social integration of those young people was not only the impetus for the project, but also a personal pleasure,” says Dr. Kaufman. Subsequently, as senior author of the paper “San Diego Photo-Shoot: A Personal Odyssey,” he recounted his experiences in pursuing these goals. The youngest of his five children, Nathaniel Kaufman, served as assistant photographer, adding to Dr. Kaufman’s pride in the project. “It was singularly gratifying,” says Dr. Kaufman, “to reflect on the paths traveled in my own life with epilepsy, while having the joy of building self-esteem among these youngsters with epilepsy.” M