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  • JAY MATHER / Bee file, 2003

    Dr. Robert Burgerman, right foreground, monitors brain activity with technician Lawrence Jankovic during surgery to remove a tumor. Burgerman founded an epilepsy program in 1992.

  • Dr. Robert Burgerman

Obituary: Dr. Robert Burgerman was expert in treating seizures

Published: Saturday, Jul. 20, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 4B
Last Modified: Sunday, Jul. 21, 2013 - 11:29 am

Dr. Robert S. Burgerman, a neurologist who was a leader in the treatment of seizure disorders at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, died July 12 at 54.

He died in his sleep, possibly from a heart problem, said his wife, Linda Ramatowski, a Sutter nurse practioner.

Dr. Burgerman, who founded the Sacramento Comprehensive Epilepsy Program in 1992, was prominent in the medical community. He was medical director of Sutter Neurodiagnostic Laboratories since 1992, and he ran the medical center's adult epilepsy monitoring unit for the last 19 years.

He was an expert in functional brain mapping and was noted for his work in planning and interpreting findings from prolonged sessions of monitoring seizure patients with video and electroencephalograms. He also served on the medical staffs of Mercy General Hospital and UC Davis Medical Center.

Dr. Burgerman was featured in stories in The Bee about advances in the treatment of epilepsy and brain tumors. In 2002, he was on a team of doctors who implanted a pacemaker in a patient's brain in an effort to help relieve body tremors.

Besides medical skills, Dr. Burgerman was known for his compassion and dedication to helping people cope with difficult neurological disorders. He treated everyone with understanding and respect, patient Chris Akin said.

"A lot of doctors just look down and tell you what to do," Akin said. "Dr. Burgerman always sat close to you at eye level and asked how you were and how was your family and how are your medications and whether you thought you needed to try something else.

"He was more than just a doctor. He was somebody who really cared."

The son of an endocrinologist, Robert Stephen Burgerman was born on Aug. 21, 1958, in Washington, D.C. He earned degrees in electrical engineering and medicine from Washington University School in St. Louis. He completed an EEG fellowship at the University of Maryland and an epilepsy fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.

He married his wife in 1989 and lived in Sacramento for the last 21 years. In addition to playing saxophone, he enjoyed windsurfing, skiing and hiking.

Besides his wife, he is survived by his father, Dr. Arthur Burgerman of Bethesda, Md., and sisters, Susan Burgerman of Washington and Lauren Bergman of New York. A service was held Wednesday.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California, 155 Montgomery St., Suite 309, San Francisco, CA 94104.

Call The Bee's Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @bob_davila.

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