Henry Brem has developed new tools and techniques that have changed the field of neurosurgery. Brem carried out the pivotal clinical study that introduced navigational imaging into the neurosurgical suite. His work led to the FDA's approval of the first image guidance computer system for intraoperative localization of tumors. Furthermore, he has changed the surgical armamentarium against brain tumors by inventing and developing Gliadel® wafers to intraoperatively deliver chemotherapy to brain tumors. His work has shown that surgeons can accurately deliver potent therapies directly at the tumor site.
Henry Brem is the Harvey Cushing Professor of Neurosurgery at The Johns Hopkins University, Director of the Department of Neurosurgery, and Neurosurgeon-in-Chief. He also is a professor of Oncology, Ophthalmology, and Biomedical Engineering.
Brem received his undergraduate degree from New York University, his medical degree from Harvard, and trained in neurosurgery at Columbia. At Hopkins, he has built one of the largest brain tumor research and treatment centers in the world. He reinstituted the Hunterian Neurosurgery Laboratory (originally founded by Cushing) and has trained numerous researchers who have revolutionized the fields of intraoperative imaging, angiogenesis, immunotherapy, and controlled release polymers for drug delivery to the brain.
Brem has changed the surgical treatment of brain tumors by introducing new approaches for targeted therapy. He developed new classes of polymers and microchips for drug delivery that are custom synthesized for the agent being developed. The polyanhydrides, which were the first new treatments for brain tumors that the FDA had approved in 23 years, have been shown in his laboratory to be biocompatible and potent. He then designed and led the clinical trials demonstrating safety and efficacy.
Brem has used his laboratory experience to design and lead many novel multi-institutional clinical trials to prove the safety and efficacy of this approach in patients with brain tumors. His work has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1982 and is currently funded by several active grants. He has published over 350 research papers, 57 book chapters, 11 patents, and an H index of 93 with over 35,000 citations.
Brem's teaching was recognized by the Hopkins Professors Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1996. In 1998 he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2000 he was awarded the Grass Award by the Society of Neurological Surgeons for meritorious research; in 2001 he received the Founders Award of the Controlled Release Society; in 2004 he received the New York University Distinguished Alumni Award; in 2005 he was co-recipient of the Society for Biomaterials Technology Innovation and Development Award and was named the Coleman Fellow in Life Sciences at Ben-Gurion University. In 2011 he delivered the commencement address for the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He has been recognized by the Castle Connolly Guide each year from 2002 in “America’s Top Doctors”, and from 2005 – present in “America’s Top Doctors for Cancer”. In 2013, the Society for NeuroOncology and the Section on Tumors of the AANS/CNS named him as the recipient of the Abhijit Guha Award. In 2014, The Johns Hopkins University established the Henry Brem Endowed Chair in Neurosurgery. In 2015 Brem was selected to receive the Castle Connolly National Physician of the Year Award for Clinical Excellence. The award is given annually to five physicians whose dedication, talents, and skills have improved the lives of thousands of people throughout the world. In 2017, Brem was awarded the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and the Johns Hopkins University Provost’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Mentoring. Brem was awarded the Andy Parsa Mentorship Award by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons in 2018, and in 2019 was inducted into the Baltimore Jewish Hall of Fame by JCC of Greater Baltimore and awarded the Society of Neurological Surgeons Medical Student Teaching Award in 2021. Brem received the Johns Hopkins Sixth Annual Dean’s Distinguished Mentoring Award.
Brem is constantly sought after as a guest lecturer across the world and has given over 480 invited lectures. In 1996 he was the Altman Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2005 he was the E. Llewelyn Thomas Lecturer at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering in Toronto, Canada, as well as the Noun Shavit Memorial Lecturer at Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva, Israel. Brem was the Rosomoff Visiting Professor to the University of Miami in Florida in 2007, and in 2008 he was a visiting professor at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA. He was the Henry A. Shenkin, MD Lecturer at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, in 2009. In 2010, he was the Van Wagenen Professorship Lecturer at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY, and the Tenth Annual Hugo V. Rizzoli M.D. Lecturer of Walter Reed Army Medical Center & National Naval Medical Center. In 2011 he delivered the Seventh Annual Stuart Rowe Society Lecture at the University of Pittsburgh. In 2013 he was the Yale University Voynick Lecturer. In 2016, he gave talks at the Royal College of Surgeons Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He delivered a TED talk at the National Science Foundation Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers Program (IUCRC) meeting in 2017. He recently lectured across the globe Rabin Medical Center in Israel; Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, Istituto di Neurochirurgia in Rome, Italy; as well as Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, The University of California Los Angeles, the US-Japan Controlled Release Symposium in Maui, and the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL.
In 2000, Brem was named director of the Department of Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. Since his appointment, Brem has brought to Johns Hopkins many of the nation’s best neurosurgeons, who share his philosophy to provide the best clinical care, while pushing research boundaries to enhance patients outcomes in the field of neurosurgery. Brem strives to ensure that each patient receives the best possible state-of-the-art care in neurosurgery from his team. In addition, patients can be assured that they will have a team of physicians and scientists who are thinking about the patient’s problems and design the best therapy possible across all disciplines and sciences. Patients can also be assured that the latest research, the newest technology, and the best possible and most innovative therapies will be made available to them.
Brem and his team have established one of the best fellowship and residency programs in the US. His mission, which extends through his team, is to train the next generation to be cutting-edge neurosurgeons who will become academic leaders in their field. Brem’s leadership and his team were recognized by U.S. News & World Report in 2010, when it ranked Johns Hopkins as the #1 neurosurgery program in the nation, a distinction it held for four consecutive years, and again in 2019 and in 2020. In 2018-‘19 the Neurosurgery Residency Program was ranked in the top two Neurological Surgery Residency Programs in the US by Doximity.
Dr. Brem has an active role at Johns Hopkins University. In addition to his role as chief of neurosurgery, he had led several medical school-wide safety initiatives including organizing and leading the clinical directors to identify safety issues across departments and implement processes to improve patient safety. His commitment to patient safety is further demonstrated by being a founding member of the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, a multi-disciplinary Institute for implementing optimal patient safety procedures. Dr. Brem has served on thirteen Departmental Chair search committees as well as chairing two searches (ophthalmology and anesthesia). He also served on the search committee for the President of the Johns Hopkins Health System Corporation and Executive Vice President of Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Dr. Brem is committed to collaboration across disciplines to inspire and facilitate the translation of scientific advances for direct patient benefit. As such, he has helped found Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute and is co-principal investigator of the Johns Hopkins Coulter Foundation “Translational Research Partners Program” which funds and supports innovative biomedical engineering projects across disciplines that have the potential to rapidly develop into useful products for patients. He served for eight years as the Chairman of the Budget and Finance and Planning Committee of the Johns Hopkins Clinical Practice Association. Dr. Brem chaired the LCME Institutional Setting Subcommittee for the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Accreditation Site Visit (2014) for its successful re-accreditation.
Dr. Brem has built collaborative neurosurgical programs in the Washington Capital region and facilitated Hopkins Neurosurgery programs in many countries throughout the world.
Dr. Brem is committed to international collaboration. He served on the executive board of the Maryland Israel Development Corporation which facilitates the relocation of Israeli biotech companies to Maryland, resulting in beneficial scientific and economic contributions to Maryland and Hopkins. He has led a Hopkins delegation to China to establish new collaborations and has played a leadership role in establishing neurosurgical programs in the Persian Gulf. He has helped start several biotechnology companies and has served on their Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Boards.
To sustain his vision of combining scientific progress with improved clinical outcomes, the culture of philanthropy is important to Dr. Brem. He has raised $85 million to establish a Neurosurgery Pain Research Institute at Johns Hopkins. During his overall chairmanship, the Department of Neurosurgery has raised over $220 million, including fifteen endowed professorships to further support and expand the department’s spirit of innovation and excellence.
The worldwide impact of the Hopkins Neurosurgery Department is reflected in 17 Neurosurgery Department Chairman that has come from the Department between 2000 and 2021.
In summary, over the past 38 years, Henry Brem has introduced new therapeutic approaches to Neurosurgery. His devotion to patient care, clinical excellence, and translational science has brought together a unique group of neurosurgeons and investigators that have changed the field of neurosurgery. His approach to science and medicine has also had a significant impact throughout Johns Hopkins. His trainees have gone on to distinguished careers in science and medicine and are serving in leadership roles throughout the world. He continues his practice of complex brain surgery and leads the Johns Hopkins Neurosurgery Department.