Brain Team’ Protégé

Published in Hopkins Medicine - Summer 2020

Irving J. Sherman ’40, the last surviving neurosurgery resident trained by Johns Hopkins’ legendary brain surgeon Walter Dandy (1886–1946), died at his Palm Beach, Florida, home on Dec. 4, 2019. He was 103.

As a postdoc, Sherman undertook the rigorous, intense training on what was known as Dandy’s five-physician “Brain Team.” Dandy demanded perfection, as well as a clockwork precision that enabled the team to perform “over 1,000 major operations per year,” Sherman later recalled.

In 1943, Sherman joined the U.S. Army, serving as a neurosurgeon in the 108th Mobile Auxiliary Surgical Evacuation Hospital that landed on Utah Beach in July 1944. He performed neurosurgery on the battlefield in 1944 and 1945 throughout France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, and was honorably discharged in 1946 at the rank of major.

Sherman served as chief of neurology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and as a clinical professor at Yale before moving on to a long career practicing in Staten Island, New York; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and elsewhere.

In addition to his work as a clinician, Sherman was a philanthropist whose generosity to the departments of neurosurgery and neurology helped to support and advance brain science and neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. “I like to help people,” Sherman said in 2016, when he turned 100. “That’s what doctors are for.”

In 2002, Irving and Florence Sherman established the Irving J. Sherman, M.D. Research Professorship in Neurosurgery as well as the Sherman Traveling Fellow Fund, which has supported overseas educational travel for more than 50 Johns Hopkins faculty members. In 2004, the Shermans’ support helped create the Walter E. Dandy, M.D. Professorship in Neurosurgery. The couple also were among the lead donors to the Henry Brem Professorship in Neurosurgery, established in 2014, and gave substantial sums to establish five other endowed professorships.