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The New Face of Academic Surgery
Johns Hopkins is well represented in a museum exhibit celebrating African-American surgeons

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Trauma surgeon Edward Cornwell, left, with trainees at USC. (Photo courtesy of Edward E. Cornwell III)

An exhibit at the National Library of Medicine in Washington and the new Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in Baltimore celebrates the contributions of black surgeons and educators, including five from Johns Hopkins.

“Opening Doors: Contemporary African American Academic Surgeons” begins with four pioneering African-American surgeons who mentored young black students pursuing medical careers. Showcased alongside these physicians are contemporary academic surgeons now passing the torch to younger surgeons. Representing Hopkins are:

  Malcolm Brock, a thoracic oncology surgeon who is using cancer’s molecular code to reveal signatures of the disease not detected through a microscope.

square  Ben Carson, director of pediatric neurosurgery, the first African American to achieve this post at Hopkins and the youngest to ever hold that position. His acclaimed expertise is in controlling intractable seizures and separating conjoined twins.

  Edward Cornwell, chief of adult trauma surgery, who pioneered research in the care of critically ill and injured patients. He lectures frequently on violence prevention.

  Claudia Thomas, former assistant professor of orthopedic surgery, who became the first African-American female orthopedic surgeon in the country. She recently joined two of her mentees in private practice in central Florida.

  Levi Watkins, associate dean for postdoctoral programs and professor of cardiac surgery and the first African American to achieve these posts at Hopkins. Active in the early civil rights movement, he joined the School of Medicine admissions committee and within four years increased minority representation by 400 percent.

—Judy Minkove

“Opening Doors: Contemporary African American Academic Surgeons” runs through May 31. Info:



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