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Theodore G. Obenchain, M.D. ’57

Ted Obenchain headshot

Retired neurosurgeon, surgical innovator,
and author

College of Arts and Sciences

Boise native Dr. Ted Obenchain’s service to Boise State University is matched only by his long and storied career as a neurosurgeon. After graduating from Boise Junior College, he studied medicine at the University of Utah, interned at Bellevue Hospital in New York, served in the U.S. Navy, and taught at the University of California School of Medicine in San Diego. Obenchain practiced medicine in northern San Diego County for more than a quarter century, pioneering a new surgical technique that reduced pain, the use of pain medications, and hospital time for certain spinal surgery patients; and received patents for several surgical instruments.

Obenchain served for two years as the president of the San Diego Academy of Neurological Surgeons, from 1990 to 1992. Before retiring from active medical practice in 2005, he published more than 20 articles and delivered presentations at international conferences. He has also written several books on medical history.

Dr. Obenchain’s interest in supporting Boise State’s research involves Hox genes — genes that guide the development of numerous complex structures like the skeleton and central nervous system — which had not yet been discovered during Dr. Obenchain’s education. He became fascinated with the discovery and was excited to see Boise State’s Biomolecular Research Center involved in this research. He then established the Dr. Theodore G. Obenchain Endowed Chair in Developmental Biology to advance research in the lab of Dr. Julia Oxford.

Dr. Laurence McKinley, a fellow neurosurgeon, described Dr. Obenchain as a unique individual who through his passion for his chosen career has made a significant difference to humanity and made innovative improvements to the practice of his art.