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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University June 23, 2008 | Vol. 37 No. 38
Endowed Professorship Honors Carson

By Kim Hoppe
Johns Hopkins Medicine

Benjamin S. Carson is the inaugural recipient of a professorship endowed by notable philanthropists and supporters of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Dedication of the professorship, called the Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., M.D., and Dr. Evelyn Spiro, R.N., Professorship in Pediatric Neurosurgery, took place May 29 at the Intercontinental Harbor Court Baltimore.

Carson has been director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center since 1984, when he became the youngest ever appointed to this academic level at Johns Hopkins. Only the 11th African-American to be board-certified in neurosurgery in the United States, he is also a professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery and pediatrics in the School of Medicine.

"I am delighted that my name will now forever be associated with Johns Hopkins," Carson said of the professorship. "I do not think I could have had such a wonderful career anywhere else."

The professorship is named for Carson and for Evelyn Spiro, a nurse, honorary PhD and a principal donor for this chair, along with her husband, Donald, and Ernest Bates.

The Spiros have generously supported facilities and programs for students, faculty and staff throughout the world, both as individuals and through the Donald and Evelyn Spiro Foundation. Their extensive generosity began at Johns Hopkins Medicine with The Johns Hopkins Hospital Spiro Nursing Scholars Program, a summer course for students from the Evelyn L. Spiro School of Nursing at the couple's alma mater, Wagner College in New York.

"Like so many, I have been inspired by [Ben Carson's] story for quite some time," Evelyn Spiro said. "I am honored to help support amazing achievements at Johns Hopkins [that will] continue in his name."

Ernest Bates was the first African-American to graduate from the university's School of Arts and Sciences, in 1958 with a bachelor's degree in biology, and was one of the first three African-Americans to be board-certified in neurosurgery in the United States. Bates earned his medical degree from the University of Rochester and completed his residency in neurosurgery at University of California, San Francisco. In 1977, he founded American Shared Hospital Services, a publicly traded health care company, and today is its chairman and chief executive officer. Bates is emeritus vice chairman of the university's board of trustees and serves on the advisory boards of Johns Hopkins Neurosurgery and the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

A longtime proponent of a Carson professorship, Bates says he is particularly pleased to see this come to fruition. "Ben has royally earned this academic honor," Bates said. "What I admire is that he has done it the old-fashioned way — through attention to detail, a love of knowledge and the drive to be the very best."

Carson's personal story was first chronicled in his autobiography, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, published in 1990.

Henry Brem, the Harvey Cushing Professor and director of Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, says that this endowed professorship will allow Carson's groundbreaking work on behalf of children to be remembered by future generations.

"I have worked with him in the operating room," Brem said, "so I can attest to the fact that Ben Carson does, indeed, have incredibly gifted hands. But more than that, he possesses a gifted heart."

"This is a professorship that is long overdue," said Edward D. Miller, the Frances Watt Baker and Lenox D. Baker Jr. dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Ben is a vital part of the Johns Hopkins community. His work, both professionally and personally, has always been a source of inspiration."


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