Dr. Ruth Kerr Jakoby was born in Palo Alto, California. She attended Barnard College of Columbia University, receiving her B.A. in 1949. She remained in New York to complete medical school at the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia. Following an internship at Grace New Haven Hospital, she held the Gilford S. Moss Research Fellowship in Paraplegia at Indiana University Medical Center. In 1959, she completed a neurosurgical residency at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Jakoby became the first woman Diplomate of the American Board of Neurological Surgery in 1961. She became a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 1964. She had a private practice in neurological surgery in Washington, D.C. from 1959-1975 and became an Associate Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery at George Washington University. In 1972, she presided as President of the Washington Academy of Neurosurgery. From 1977-1979, Dr. Jakoby was Chief of the Spinal Cord Injury Service at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Houston, Texas. During this period, she was Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at Baylor College of Medicine and had a joint appointment at Baylor and the Texas Institute of Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) as Associate Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Medicine.
Dr. Jakoby developed an interest in medical-legal issues. She received her J.D. degree from Northern Virginia Law School in 1986, becoming the first woman neurosurgeon to also be a lawyer. She became acting Dean of the Antioch School of Law in 1989 where her special interests included antitrus issues and mergers of medical, legal and educational institutions.
Dr. Jakoby has two sons, Michael and Robert. A memoir of her early years in neurosurgery was published in 1964 in the Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association.