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The Schmooze

Neurosurgeon Henry Brem Honored At Castle Connolly Dinner

Among the outstanding physicians honored at the March 23 Castle Connolly Top Doctors 10th Anniversary Awards dinner at The Pierre was Dr. Henry Brem, a son of Holocaust survivors, whose roster of titles and credentials includes Director, Department of Neurosurgery, Director, Hunterian Neurosurgical Research Laboratory–Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Baltimore, Md.).

John J. Connolly president & CEO Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. who with John K. Castle Chairman, Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. established the awards, described Brem as “a physician for all seasons ” who has built one of the largest brain tumor research and treatment centers in the world… [whose] work and those he has trained, have changed the world of inter-operative imaging.” Emcee Holly Philips CBS News Medical Contributor–a wife, mother and practicing physician — touted Brem as having “transformed the field of neurosurgery leading to breakthrough treatments that have extended the life of brain cancer patients worldwide.”

Brem — whose curriculum vitae includes high school at Yeshiva University, NYU, Harvard and training in neurosurgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons responded to the accolades: “How do you define what is clinical excellence? It comes from a passion to do what is best for each individual patient who trusts his or her life and wellbeing to your care. It comes from treating each person the way you would want yourself or your family treated. For me that passion is deeply rooted as a child of survivors of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. I was brought up with a powerful love and constant encouragement which imbued me with a deep devotion to family, awareness of the tremendous value of education and enlightenment, and instilled in me a profound desire to make the world a better place.

“The best part of my life was meeting my extraordinary wife of 37 years, Rachel, who married me at 19, and is regularly listed in the Castle Connolly’s top 1% of Cancer doctors —  three amazing daughters, two great sons-in-law. When one appreciates the deep love of family with the desire to protect and preserve those who form your family, what our patients are concerned about is how important it is to deliver care that returns them to their families and to a normal life. “

Honorees included Kimberly Brown M.D. Division Head, Division of Gastroenterology/Hepatology at Henry Ford Healthcare System and Fabrizio Michelassi M.D. FACS, Chairman of Surgery Weill Cornell Medical College and Surgeon-in-Chief New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Award presenters included William Liss-Levinson Vice President, Chief Strategy & Operations Officer of Castle Connolly Medical Ltd.

A few days later during our post-dinner chat, Dr. Brem told me that his parents were from Poland — his mother was from Belchatow and his father was from Piotrkow Trybulanski. There are “four siblings–six doctors–a brother who is a neurosurgeon, a younger sister who is a dentist. “ Why neurology? Brem replied: “I saw that people were suffering from neurologic disease and I was hoping to make a difference.” Brem mentioned close collaboration with colleagues in Israel [Ben Gurion]. “At Johns Hopkins we now have 15 protocols for patients… 20,000 a year get a brain tumor… affects children. Most common mean age is 50’s and it’s not hereditary. By the way …my father used to get the Forward every day in Yiddish.”

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