Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts HistorySauer, Anne
Department of Neurosurgery, 1951
Neurosurgery has been a division of surgery at the medical school since it first became a specialty in the 1920s; however, the school did not offer academic courses or student teaching until the Farnsworth surgical building opened at the New England Medical Center in 1949. Dr. William Sweet served as a consultant to the medical school and the New England Medical Center from 1948 until 1951, when he was named chief of neurosurgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He established a neurosurgical residency at Tufts in 1950.
In 1951 Dr. Bertram Selverstone became the first full-time chair of the division at the school and chief neurosurgeon at the New England Medical Center. He went on to recruit a faculty that included Drs. Samuel Brendler, Robert Yuan, and John Drew, who later became responsible for developing a neurosurgery program at the Boston V.A. Medical Center. The bulk of the division's research and clinical effort during Dr. Selverstone's tenure was devoted to the localization of brain tumors with radio-isotopes and to the treatment of intracranial arterial aneurysms.
When Dr. Selverstone left Boston in 1970, Dr. Bennett M. Stein, a former faculty member of the Neurological Institute at the Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, was named chair of the division. He brought with him Dr. Richard Fraser and William Shucart. In 1973 Dr. Fraser returned to New York, and Dr. R. Michael Scott replaced him as chief of pediatric neurosurgery. When Dr. Shucart left to become the neurosurgical chair of New York's Downstate Medical Center in 1975, Drs. Kalmon Post and Stephen Dell joined the faculty. Five years later Dr. Stein returned to New York to take on the chairmanship of the Department of Neurosurgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital.
In 1981 Dr. Shucart, the current head of the division, returned to Tufts to become chairman. Dr. Shucart, who received his M.D. degree from the University of Missouri and trained in neurosurgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, is presently a member of the American Board of Neurological Surgery, president of the New England Neurological Society, and secretary of the Society of Neuro-logical Surgeons. At Tufts he recruited Drs. David Kasdon, M'71, and Jack Stern. Dr. Joel Abromowitz later replaced Dr. Stern, and when Dr. Scott joined the staff of the Boston Children's Hospital, Dr. Alan Cohen became chief of pediatric neurosurgery. Dr. Kasdon died in 1988. The division now includes five neurosurgeons and four Ph. D. candidates involved in research.
After Dr. Shucart took on the role of chairman, St. Elizabeth's Hospital and the Boston V.A. Medical Center both became an integral part of the program, and a research laboratory was established. Since 1983 this laboratory has been directed by Dr. John Kauer, who achieved international renown for his work on synaptic organization and olfaction. Dr. Julian Wu, another faculty member, has been studying the underlying genetic alterations in human brain tumors via molecular biological techniques, and Dr. Stephen Saris has been using animal models of primary brain tumors to investigate novel forms of therapy.
Each faculty member participates in several teaching areas, including the neuroscience course for second-year students, the neurosurgical rotation for third-year students involved in the surgery clerkship, and the fourth-year elective. The clinical program has continued to thrive, and the residency program has attracted outstanding candidates.
Source: COE, 138-40
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