In Memory of Dr. BJ Wilder

Buna Joe Wilder, M.D., a longtime faculty member and advocate for the College of Medicine, recently passed away at age 94. Affectionately known as B.J., Dr. Wilder’s career at UF spanned more than four decades, and throughout that time he impacted the lives of countless faculty, staff, residents and patients, leaving a profound legacy.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, but raised in Gainesville from age 5, Dr. Wilder earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from Duke University, where he met and married Evelyn Vance, his wife of 67 years. After graduating from Duke, he served two years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and completed surgical residency training at the Coral Gables Veterans Affairs Hospital.

In 1962 he returned to Gainesville, where he began his neurological training at UF and later joined faculty, quickly rising to the rank of full professor. During his more than four decades at the College of Medicine, he directed laboratories and developed therapies for neurological diseases, played a crucial role in shaping the department of neurology and served as chief of neurology at the Veterans Administration Hospital for 20 years. He was among the first to develop a method for measuring anticonvulsant drug levels in patients, and his seminal research changed how seizures and epilepsy have been managed to the present day.

Along with his wife Evelyn, he founded the B.J. and Eve Wilder Family Foundation, which has given generously to support research and care for epilepsy, and in more recent years, Alzheimer’s disease. The foundation has funded three endowed professorships at UF, established the B.J. and Eve Wilder Center for Excellence in Epilepsy Research at the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute and supported the UF Neuromedicine Human Brain and Tissue Bank.

Colleagues of Dr. Wilder speak warmly of his generosity, love of life and loyalty to friends and family. His dedication to the college through his education, research, patient care and philanthropy has left a long-lasting impact that will be felt for years to come. A Reception will be held in his honor on January 14, 2024.

To find out more about BJ Wilder and his career read here.