Meet Dr. Clifford B Saper

Tags: , , , ,

Hope for HH is co-sponsoring the 4th International Symposium on Hypothalamic Hamartomas – a professional symposium for HH investigators, clinicians and researchers – in Washington DC Sept. 12-14. The Symposium aims to identify gaps in understanding and opportunities for future HH research studies and collaborations to improve diagnosis, treatment and care of both the seizures as well as the other endocrinological and neuropsychological symptoms.  

In this blog series, we will introduce you to several internationally recognized clinicians and researchers who are thought leaders both inside and outside of HH and who will serve as facilitators, presenters and discussants at the Symposium. Highlights of the Symposium will also be available to the HH patient and professional community following the meeting.

Meet Dr. Clifford B Saper

Clifford B. Saper received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees and did his internship in internal medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, before doing a neurology residency at Cornell University Medical Center- New York Hospital.  He then joined the faculty of Washington University School of Medicine where he served from 1981-1985 as Assistant and then Associate Professor of Neurology and Anatomy and Neurobiology.  He then moved to the University of Chicago, where from 1985-1992 he was an Associate Professor, then William D. Mabie Professor of Physiology and Neurology, and Chairman of the Committee on Neurobiology.  In 1992, he moved to his present position at Harvard Medical School, where he is the James Jackson Putnam Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience and Chairman of the Harvard Department of Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  Dr. Saper served from 1994-2011 as the Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Comparative Neurology and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Annals of Neurology.  Dr. Saper has received a Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the National Institutes of Health, and was named one of the 100 most frequently cited neuroscientists by the Institute for Scientific Information.  He has served as Vice President and Councilor of the American Neurological Association, and has served on the Publications Committee and has chaired the Program Committee of both that organization and the Society for Neuroscience.  Dr. Saper was elected to the National Academy of Medicine, and has been named a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Royal College of Physicians (London) and a member of the American Association of Physicians.

Dr. Saper will be presenting a keynote talk on the anatomy and neurobiology of the hypothalmus.  

What is your specialty training and background?

I trained as an MD/PhD, with my research on the anatomy of the hypothalamus.  I have subsequently worked on hypothalamic connections and how they affect wake-sleep, feeding behavior, drinking behavior and regulation of body temperature, response to fever, and stress responses. 


How did you become interested in HH research and care? What are your contributions to the HH field of research and care?  

I then trained as a neurologist, and became interested in the relatively rare patients who have hypothalamic disorders.  Hypothalamic hamartoma is certainly one of the most distinct and interesting of these diseases.  Most hamartomas are derived from cells of a particular type.  I have been interested for a long time in understanding which cells overgrow in hypothalamic hamartoma, and how they affect function, such as gelastic epilepsy.


The Symposium is important because

There have been very few symposia focused on hypothalamic hamartoma.  Thus the people who work in the field, and around its periphery (that would be me), rarely actually meet to talk about it, or to exchange views, or ideas.  This kind of meeting can catalyze a field and increase the pace of progress.


Outside of work passions

I am pretty boring.  I guess my most unusual interest is that I like to write, and so when I am not engaged in writing professional publications, I have written a couple of novels, one of which was published.  But I did it under a pseudonym.  I did not want anyone to confuse it with my professional work!


Call To Action

Like to share your feedback about the Symposium, speaker or topic, please send your comments to

Would you like to support the Symposium and research with a donation to Hope for HH? Click here to Donate.