Research is a large part of our mission here at the Department of Neurological Surgery. This is founded on a tradition that goes back to the early days of the Neurological Institute, a hundred years ago. A number of our neurosurgeons carry on this important work today. Their research is largely funded by private donors and the creation of endowed chairs or professorships. Dr. Donald Quest, who holds the J. Lawrence Pool Professorship, explains:
“Endowed professorships (chairs) provide a steady source of funding for the faculty member who holds the endowed position, creating opportunities for the incumbent to spend additional time in research, providing clinical care, improving methods of treating patients, and overseeing the training of tomorrow’s leading neurological surgeons. Professorships also provide an excellent opportunity to recognize both faculty and donors. They are awarded to the most distinguished faculty in recognition for their contributions to the field, while celebrating the generosity of the donor in perpetuity. Presently no endowed chairs in the department provide funding for the named professor directly; rather the funds are used solely to advance crucial areas of research and patient care.”
Here at the Department of Neurosurgery we have six endowed chairs, and occupying those chairs are six extraordinary neurosurgeons who work diligently to honor their endowment benefactors.
An endowed chair is no small gift, and a moment should be taken to appreciate those whose generosity has helped further the science and practice of neurosurgery.
Below is a listing of each chair, the neurosurgeon who holds it, and a brief look at that chair’s namesake.
Chairman and Director of service, Dr. Robert Solomon holds the Byron Stookey Chair. Dr. Byron Stookey was Director of the Department of Neurosurgery from 1937 to 1939. He has been called one of the most distinguished neurosurgeons of his time. He was not only an exacting neurosurgeon but also an authority and prolific writer on the subject of Revolutionary War-era medicine.
Dr. Donald Quest from the Spine Center holds the J. Lawrence Pool Chair. Dr. J. Lawrence Pool is a legend in neurosurgery. He was Head of the Department from 1949 to 1972. A leading neurosurgeon of the 20th century, Dr. Pool was brilliant, charming, innovative, and a gifted surgeon. While at Harvard, he was National Squash Champion. He was also an aviator, a colorful writer, and a talented artist. He was truly a “man for all seasons.”
Dr. E. Sander Connolly Jr. from the Cerebrovascular Center holds the Bennett M. Stein Chair. Dr. Stein was Chairman of the Department prior to Dr. Solomon. Among his many accomplishments, he is responsible for the unique subspecialization of the department, as well as for having trained and handpicked many of the neurosurgeons working in the department today. Dr. Stein had an encyclopedic knowledge of brain anatomy. He was an innovative and bold surgeon, and an outstanding motivator and role model for residents and medical students.
Dr. Michael Sisti from the Brain Tumor Center and Gamma Knife Center holds the James G. McMurtry Chair. Dr. McMurtry successfully operated on opera star Cecilia Bartoli’s brother, who had a brain tumor. She was so pleased with the treatment he received that she funded what became the Bartoli Brain Tumor Lab. Dr. McMurtry devoted his entire professional career to the Neurological Institute. His legacy was that of a calm, patient, and revered teacher.
Dr. Jeffrey Bruce from the Brain Tumor Center holds the Edgar M. Housepian Chair. Dr. Edgar M. Housepian was a member of the Department of Neurological Surgery from 1955, when he began his residency at the Neurological Institute of New York, until his death in 2014. He had an early interest in aneurysm surgery and deep brain ablation and stimulation techniques. He was appointed Special Adviser for International Affiliations to the Dean of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, serving in that capacity from 1996 until 2010. He received multiple encomiums for his international humanitarian efforts.
Dr. Paul McCormick, Director of the Spine Center, holds the Herbert & Linda Gallen Chair. Herbert Gallen was the Founder and Creative Director of the multimillion-dollar fashion house Ellen Tracy, which was later sold to Liz Claiborne. He was a grateful patient of Dr. James McMurtry’s.