Eben Alexander, Jr.
1980, Houston, TX
Dr. Eben Alexander, Jr., was born on September 14, 1913, to Dr. and Mrs. Eben Alexander, Sr., of Knoxville, Tennessee, where Dr. Alexander was a prominent general surgeon. Eben, Jr., attended the University of North Carolina and received his A.B. degree at Chapel Hill, where his grandfather was a professor of Greek. He then went on to Harvard Medical School, receiving his M.D. degree cure laude in 1939. Among his classmates were Drs. John Adams, Kenneth Livingston, Francis Moore, and the late and beloved Dr. Donald Matson. Dr. Alexander is the permanent president of the class of 1939 and served as the president of the Harvard Medical Alumni Association for 1980 and 1981.
Dr. Alexander was attracted into neurological surgery by Dr. Franc Ingraham, who was his teacher and great friend. Dr. Ingraham, one of the finest and most respected gentlemen in neurological surgery, had a great influence upon Dr. Alexander's career.
Dr. Alexander's internship and residency at Peter Bent Brigham and Children's Hospital in Boston spanned a 9-year period from 1939 to 1948, being interrupted by World War II. He returned from the war with a rank of major, the Bronze Star, and a great appreciation for the comforts of home. His home fires had been lit when he married Elizabeth West in 1942. Betty has been a source of strength for him. Her graciousness and charm are appreciated by members of many neurosurgical organizations, by civic groups, and by their many friends.
Dr. Alexander was fortunate enough to serve a year of neurosurgical residency from 1948 to 1949 under Dr. Kenneth McKenzie in Toronto, Canada. That year was rewarding to Dr. Alexander, not only because he was exposed to Dr. McKenzie's outstanding skills but also because he had the opportunity to review Dr. McKenzie's series of patients with 8th nerve tumors. That published review represented the state of the art at that time.
In 1949, Dr. Alexander was appointed assistant professor of surgery in charge of neurological surgery and in 1954 became professor and head of the Section on Neurological Surgery, Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University. He held this position until October 1978. As director of the neurosurgical program, he was responsible for the training of 31 residents. His emphasis on the clinical practice of neurosurgery caused his program to be recognized as one of the best in the nation.
From 1953 through 1973, Dr. Alexander served as chief of Professional Services of North Carolina Baptist Hospital. During that period the medical center in Winston-Salem grew, and much of the present prominence of both the Bowman Gray School of Medicine and North Carolina Baptist Hospital is the result of his efforts and leadership.
Dr. Alexander's contribution to neurological surgery, both at the laboratory and clinical levels, is documented in over 100 publications. His research projects have focused on hydrocephalus, peripheral nerve injuries, craniosynostosis, spinal cord injuries, and brain tumor chemotherapy. He was one of the first neurosurgeons to recognize the value of plastics in neurosurgery. His clinical interests cover a wide range of subjects, but most often have related to cranial and spinal injuries brain tumors,and intracranial aneurysms. He has maintained his interest and enthusiasm for pediatric neurosurgery by continuing to contribute to the surgical treatment of many congenital lesions.
His influence on organized neurosurgery at the national level has been truly remarkable. He has made contributions to the National Institutes of Health and the American Association of Medical Colleges. He has served as president
of the Society of Neurological Surgeons, the American Academy of Neurological Surgeons,and the AmericanA ssociation of Neurological Surgeons. He served on the Executive Committee of theA merican Association of Neurological Surgeons and was an officer from 1959 to 1967 when he became president of that association. He also served on the editorial board of the Journal of Neurosurgery from 1961 to 1970.
For the past few years, Dr.Alexander has made a great effort on our behalf in the American Medical Association AMA). He has participatef in the development of the AMA
Section Council for Neurosurgery. He has also served on the Interspecialty Advisory board, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, and the Council on Medical Education. He has recently been appointed to the National Board of Medical Examiners and the Liaison Committee for Graduate Medical Education.
Dr.Alexander has earned the respect of all neurosurgeons. For those who have had the privilege of knowing him well for many years, he is appreciated for his attention to detail, demand for excellence, compassion and dedication to his patients, positive and optimistic attitude, honesty and fairness in all endeavors and for his perseverance and commitment to organization and progress.
He earned the privilege to be recognized as the honored guest of the Congress for 1980.