The Montreal Neurological Institute: Training of the First African-American Neurosurgeons

 

Shearwood McClelland III M.D.

 

Department of Neurosurgery, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN

 

Introduction:

Since its inception in 1934 by the legendary Dr. Wilder G. Penfield, the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) has provided world-renowned instruction in neurosurgery and related neurosciences, training many of the most prominent figures in the history of neurosurgery (1).  Less well-known is the role of the MNI in training the first African-American board-certified neurosurgeons (2, 3).  This important yet relatively unknown contribution of the MNI to the field of neurosurgery is detailed in this report. 

 

Methods:

A comprehensive review of pertinent modern and historical records spanning the past century was performed. 

 

Results:

From 1947 through 1965, the MNI trained the first African-American board-certified neurosurgeon, and three of the first four.  The first, Clarence S. Greene, Sr., M.D., F.A.C.S., trained at MNI from 1947-1949.  The next, Jesse B. Barber, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S., trained at MNI from 1958-1961.  Like Dr. Greene, Dr. Barber received his M.D. from the Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., was on the general surgery faculty at Howard (certified by the American Board of Surgery) before training at MNI under Dr. Penfield, and returned to Howard following his training (2, 3).  The third, Lloyd A. Dayes, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.S., matriculated at MNI in 1960 after receiving his M.D. from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in southern California, and trained from 1961-1965 under Dr. Theodore B. Rasmussen, after which he returned to Loma Linda (1).  Drs. Greene, Barber and Dayes were certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery in 1953, 1963, and 1967 respectively as the first, third and fourth African-American neurosurgeons (2). 

 

Conclusions:

The willingness of the world-renowned Montreal Neurological Institute to train the first African-American neurosurgeons during a time of intense racial segregation in the United States played a major role in enabling subsequent African-Americans to enter and enhance the field of neurosurgery. 

 

 

 

Keywords:

Montreal Neurological Institute, Clarence S. Greene Sr., Jesse B. Barber Jr., Lloyd A. Dayes

 

 

Objectives:

1.  Understand the role of the Montreal Neurological Institute in training the first African-American board-certified neurosurgeons

2.  Know the time period during which the first African-Americans were certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery

3.  Be familiar with the names of the first African-Americans to be board-certified as neurosurgeons

 

 

References:

1.    Feindel W. Neurosurgery at the Montreal Neurological Institute and McGill University hospitals. Neurosurgery. 1996;39:830-839.

2.    Cobb WM, Epps Jr. CH, Kosiba MM. Certification pioneers. In: Organ CM, Kosiba MM eds. A Century of Black Surgeons: The U.S. Experience. Vol. II. Oklahoma: Transcript Press, 1987;483-528.

3.    Leffall Jr. LD, Syphax BM. The Howard University department of surgery and Freedmenís hospital. In: Organ CM, Kosiba MM eds. A Century of Black Surgeons: The U.S. Experience. Vol. I. Oklahoma: Transcript Press, 1987;1-62.

 

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