Oscar Abeliuk, M.D. 1949-2017

Oscar Abeliuk, M.D.
1949 - 2017

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Oscar Abeliuk, M.D.   Dr. Abeliuk was a past President of the San Francisco Neurological Society (SFNS), Chair of SFNS Neuro-Cinema Festival, and the SFNS Cultural Director.  Dr. Abeliuk was a long time member of the San Francisco Neurological Society (SFNS), the California Neurology Society (CNS), the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), the California Society of Industrial Medicine and Surgery (CSIMS), an active neurologist in the community, and a friend to many.

Dr. Abeliuk was fluent in both English and Spanish.  He grew up in Santiago, Chile and attended the University of Chile Medical School.  He interned at Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati and did his neurology residency at University of Cincinnati Medical Center and UCDavis where he served as Chief Resident in Neurology.  He did a fellowship in EMG and Neurological Rehabilitation at UCDavis and the VA Medical Center Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.  Dr. Abeliuk had been practicing general neurology with an interest in neuromuscular problems for over 30 years in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area.  He was the medical director of one of the first chronic pain clinics in the Bay Area.  He had extensive experience in evaluating complex neuro-orthopedic disorders, such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), neck and low back injuries, and sequelae from surgical treatment of those disorders, as well as head trauma, entrapment neuropathies, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, ulnar neuropathy, and complications of shoulder, elbow, knee, ankle, and foot injuries. After serving as a consultant for the John Muir Medical Center, Concord and Walnut Creek campuses for many years, he centered his practice in medical-legal evaluations.

Dr. Abeliuk served as the President of the Bay Area History of Medicine Club (affiliated with UCSF Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine) from 2002 to 2005 and was a former President of the San Francisco Neurological Society (2008-2009). He was the recipient of the Outstanding Service Award from SFNS in March of 2017.  Dr. Abeliuk founded the Neuro-Cinema Festival and was an active producer and director of documentary films.  Some of his films included: Sara of Rhodes (life of a holocaust survivor now in Berkeley), My Recovery (our colleague's post stroke rehabilitation), Desdeel Quisco Con Amor(High School Reunion), and Voices of a Tsunami (Chilean Tsunami of 2010 ).

Dr. Abeliuk has been a lecturer on the History of Medicine for more than 25 years.  Just a few notable topics were:   
  • "Santiago Ramon y Cajal: Life & Discoveries" and "Camillo Golgi: Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1906" - Bay Area History of Medicine Club - 2001
  • Many lectures for the SFNS Annual Meetings including: "History of Facial Expressions from Darwin to Botox""Darwin's Illness""Einstein's Brain""Phineas Gage"; "Egaz Moniz and the Emergence of Psychosurgery" to mention only a few.

Dr. Abeliuk died on a hiking trail.  He is survived by his partner, Robyn Heilbrun, his daughter Emily, son Michael, daughter-in-law Ginger, granddaughter Juniper and extended family in Chile and Israel.   A celebration of life is being planned for a future date.

Tax deductible charitable donations can be made to:

Association of California Neurologists Foundation  {or ACNF}
[Tax ID # 26-3814573]
(Memo: the Oscar Abeliuk Scholarship)
1000 Q Street, Ste. 204, Sacramento, CA 95811


  1. Dearest Oscar - you will be missed by many and we will continue to honor your important and inspiring work through the SFNS Neuro Cinema Festival!!! Hasta luego, my friend. ~ Amanda Pacia

  2. Dear Oscar,
    I worked with you briefly on the SFNS Neuro Cinema Festival and on your other film projects website. Although our exchanges were few, your impact was felt. Your passion, conviction, compassion and humor left quite the impression. It was an honor to work with you. - irene ramirez

  3. Dear Oscar, Words cannot express how much we will miss you. The loss of your presence is a devastating blow my friend. You were a brilliant Renaissance Neurologist, finding ways to integrate your interest in history, your creativity with documentary films, your love of neurology and your dedication to SFNS to establish new programs expanding knowledge and insight beyond the usual for all of us. There is no one like you and I can't imagine how we will manage without you. We will continue to honor your memory and your legacy. Always, Robyn

  4. Oscar, I have thoroughly enjoyed our conversations over the years. I especially enjoyed working with you when you showed "League of Denial" during the 2016 annual meeting. The enthusiasm you carry is something to be inspired - you even got Steve Fainaru to attend! Your passion for and love of neurology will be sorely missed.
    Suketu Khandhar

  5. Oscar will be missed by us all. He will be remembered by me as a friend with sensitive intelligence and passion for humor in life's prosperity and tragedy. I will miss him personally. Condolences to Robyn and his family.

    Donald C. Kitt, M.D

  6. It is with great sadness that Sonja and I learned of the sudden passing of Oscar, our friend and colleague for so many years. Oscar brought a special spirit to our gatherings with an inquisitive mind and enthusiasm. He was erudite in many ways and a pleasure to be with. We extend our sincere condolences to Robyn and his family. While we mourn his death, we will carry his memory forever. Eric Denys, M.D. & Sonja Declercq, M.D.


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