Giving, While Living
Date: September 1, 2007
Gregory Riggins, director of neurosurgery research, has built a molecular biology laboratory dedicated to investigating new therapies for brain cancer, thanks to an endowed professorship.
On a special traveling fellowship, neurosurgeon Allan Belzberg flew to the Netherlands to observe a world-famous surgeon perform peripheral nerve surgery.
Neurologist Ted Dawson recently secured FPLC (fast protein liquid chromatography) for his movement disorders lab. The new equipment allows him to fully investigate the major genetic cause of Parkinson’s disease.
The professorship, the traveling fellowship and the lab equipment are but three of many gifts made by Florence and Irving Sherman over the last several decades, all with the express purpose of furthering neurological and neurosurgical research at Johns Hopkins.
Irving Sherman first came to Hopkins as a college freshman 65 years ago and then went on to medical school and residency training. “It was all Hopkins, all the way,” says the 91-year-old retired neurosurgeon.
And though Sherman spent the better part of a long career practicing in Connecticut, it was his training under legendary Hopkins neurosurgeon Walter Dandy from 1941 to 1943 that stands out as the experience of a lifetime.
A whiz-bang surgeon who was said to perform 1,000 operations a year, Dandy was dictatorial and demanding, but that did not dampen Sherman’s admiration. “We residents did a tremendous amount of surgery. I was on duty constantly, night and day, 50 weeks out of the year. It was very hard work, but,” Sherman adds wistfully, “it was wonderful.”
Now the Shermans reside in Palm Beach, where each winter they take part in the annual Hopkins Medicine symposium, hosting luncheons and dinners that have raised millions for the institution. They travel frequently to Baltimore and to Hopkins, where he serves on the Council of the University President, the Johns Hopkins Medicine Alliance for Science and Technology Development and the Department of Neurosurgery’s advisory board.
The sheer joy the Shermans take in giving is palpable, and they have but one piece of advice for fellow Hopkins supporters: “Give while you’re alive. When you give a bequest, you don’t get the satisfaction of seeing how your gift benefits everyone. You don’t get to see what happens.”