Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., M.D., had a childhood dream of becoming a physician. Growing up in a single parent home and being challenged by dire poverty, poor grades, a horrible temper and low self-esteem appeared to preclude the realization of that dream, until his mother, with only a third-grade education, challenged her sons to strive for excellence. Young Ben persevered, and today is a full professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he has directed pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for over a quarter of a century. He became the inaugural recipient of a professorship dedicated in his name in May, 2008.
Some career highlights include the first and only successful separation of craniopagus (Siamese) twins joined at the back of the head in 1987, the first completely successful separation of type-2 vertical craniopagus twins in 1997 in South Africa, and the first successful placement of an intrauterine shunt for a hydrocephalic twin. Although he has been involved in many newsworthy operations, he feels that every case is noteworthy-deserving of maximum attention. He is interested in all aspects of pediatric neurosurgery, and has a special interest in trigeminal neuralgia (a severe facial pain condition) in adults.
Carson holds more than 60 honorary doctorate degrees and has received literally hundreds of awards and citations. He is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, the Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Science, the Horatio Alger Society of Distinguished Americans and many other prestigious organizations. He sits on the board of directors of numerous organizations, including Kellogg Company, Costco Wholesale Corporation, the Academy of Achievement, and is an emeritus fellow of the Yale Corporation, the governing body of Yale University. He was appointed in 2004 by President George W. Bush to serve on the President’s Council on Bioethics. He is a highly regarded motivational speaker who has addressed various audiences from school systems and civic groups to corporations and the President’s National Prayer Breakfast.
In 2001, Carson was named by CNN and TIME magazine as one of the nation’s 20 foremost physicians and scientists. That same year, he was selected by the Library of Congress as one of 89 “Living Legends” on the occasion of its 200th anniversary. He is also the recipient of the 2006 Spingarn Medal which is the highest honor bestowed by the NAACP. In February 2008, Carson was presented with the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal by President Bush at the White House. In June, 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the President, which is the highest civilian honor in the land. Carson was recognized in November, 2008 by U.S. News & World Report and Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership, as one of “America’s Best Leaders.” On February 7, 2009, the award-winning movie entitled Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. as Carson, premiered on TNT and is based on his memoir.
Carson is president and co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments. The Fund is currently operating in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, having awarded more than $5 million dollars to more than 5,000 scholars. The program also establishes Carson Reading Rooms to encourage young students and their families to discover the pleasure to be found in books and to recognize the true power of learning. Carson is also the co-founder of Angels of the OR under the auspices of the Baltimore Community Foundation, which provides grant to assist neurosurgery patients with expenses not covered by insurance.
His five books, Gifted Hands, THINK BIG, The Big Picture, Take the Risk: Learning to Identify, Choose and Live with Acceptable Risk and America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great provide inspiration and insight for leading a successful life. Carson has been married for over 37 years to his wife, Candy, and is the father of three sons. And yes, his mother, Sonya Carson, who made all this possible, has lived to see all of this happen.