Anh Do has been delving deep into his subjects’ minds to capture their essence on canvas. Now he has a challenge with the much-admired surgeon Dr Charlie Teo, who has literally been inside thousands of brains
As usual, the over 600 applicants we received for the fellowship was shortened to 5 amazingly qualified candidates. They were from countries on all major continents and appeared to be the best of the best. How was I to choose? Harish was a resident at one of the best hospitals in the world, Cedars-Sinai in Beverly Hills, USA. He had received a glowing reference from his Chairman, the famous and talented, Keith Black…..but so too had the other 4 short-listed candidates. As is often the case, I decided to meet with them all on one of my trips to LA, and my daughter Alex, who was living in Santa Monica at the time, joined me. After interviewing them all, over breakfast, I still couldn’t make up my mind. Alex piped up and stated with authority, “Harish is the best candidate…I would choose him”. Given that my daughters have had very close relationships with all my previous fellows, from infants to now, I guess, no-one would be better qualified to know, what makes a good fellow or a bad fellow….who makes my life easier and enjoyable, and who makes my life harder and miserable. I decided to act on her intuition.
Harish, like all the other fellows brought his unique training and personality to the fellowship. I always give my fellows a title once they finish that includes at least one superlative….best technician, best academician, best clinician etc. Harish’s “superlative” is easy. Part of teaching and interaction with the fellow includes placing bets with them on some challenging clinical question. As you would hope and expect, I win the bet more often than not….usually based on my 35 years of experience rather than my reading of the text books. For the first time in the history of the fellowship, Harish won more bets than he lost. I hope this doesn’t mean that I no longer have anything worthwhile to teach, but I suspect, it’s Harish’s sharp mind, vast breadth of knowledge, clinical acumen and a little Indian karma!!!
Thanks for an incredibly enjoyable 6 months Harish. We wish you and your beautiful family the best of fortune in SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York.
In keeping with my love of nature and unique geographical places, I jump at any opportunity to teach, operate or visit South Africa. The level of neurosurgical care is excellent and some of the most innovative surgeons in history have originated from here….think Christian Barnard and Warwick Peacock. On one of my previous visits to Johannesburg to perform pro bono surgery I came across a young neurosurgeon who impressed me dramatically. He was head of his department in one of the largest public hospitals in one of the poorer sections of the city. He clearly wasn’t in it for the money and he and his beautiful wife, a plastic surgeon in the same institution, worked tirelessly to improve the care to impoverished patients. He was courageous enough to perform keyhole operations that he had learnt by reading my book, Principles and Practice of Keyhole Brain Surgery, without ever seeing it performed by someone else. His results were amazing. I wanted this person as my fellow. Thankfully, he agreed and the rest is history. Chris is a technically gifted surgeon. He has courage, dexterity, good clinical acumen, comprehensive knowledge of the literature and a caring nature. He taught us as much as we taught him and his enthusiastic personality was contagious. He will be a shining light in the field of innovative neurosurgery in his country and I am confident he will make a positive contribution to the overall welfare of both the privileged and impoverished people of South Africa. We wish him, his talented and beautiful wife, Bella, and their young family, the best of luck.
Not surprisingly, picking the best candidate for the Fellowship is difficult and I sometimes find myself struggling to make the definitive decision.
The fellowship program grows in popularity every year, and 2018 was no exception. The short list read like the Who’s Who of neurosurgical residents, and Amit had received glowing references from his attendings, not dissimilar to the other applicants. However, the major difference was that one of his referees was a previous fellow, Dan Guillaume, at the University of Minnesota. Dan was an exceptional neurosurgical fellow, but more importantly, he was an exceptional human being….. any reference from Dan could be trusted.
Neither Dan nor Amit let me down. Amit is an exceptional human being. He is wise beyond his years, compassionate to not only his patients, but to all those who are lucky enough to be touched by his friendship. Amit cares. He cares about his patients, his family, his colleagues and their welfare. He is in constant pursuit of excellence and as such, is an exemplary neurosurgeon. We wish him, his beautiful wife Jamie and his gorgeous kids the best of luck for the future. The neurosurgical care at Bayhealth Kent General Hospital in Delaware has never been better.
Dr Steve Carr
If you look back at all the valedictories that have been written, almost all of them contain some superlative description of the fellow. Steve will not be exempt. Without doubt, Steve Carr, is the nicest guy we’ve ever had. All the fellows are good surgeons, clinicians, technicians, intellects, communicators etc. and Steve is no exception, but no one has been as friendly, kind and considerate as Steve. Combine this with an absolute dedication to patient care and you have an amazing doctor.
Steve came to us from Denver, Colorado and will take an appointment at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. While he was here with his wife Mary, they had their first child, Benjamin. We wish them the very best of luck in the future.
Where does one start when trying to describe a phenomenon? I have only accepted a fellow sight unseen on 2 previous occasions but there was no way I could get Andy Parsa off my back until I said yes. Those of you who knew Andy, knows that he was the consummate resident advocate and in his opinion Omar HAD to learn my techniques….there was no compromise. He must’ve called me 20 times pushing for me to say yes and I was so pleased that I accepted Omar only 5 days before Andy’s tragic and sudden death.
I don’t know where to start when elucidating Omar’s amazing qualities. It just has to be in point form…
• Kind and generous person
• Loving and devoted husband to Maya
• Skilled surgeon
• Courage and conviction both in and out of the operating room
• Dedication to every thing he takes on
• Affable and sociable
• Takes computers apart as a hobby!
• Delightful traveling partner
• Good bloke
It was a privilege and a pleasure having him as our fellow….and even more pleasurable getting to know his gorgeous wife, Maya. They will be sadly missed by me, my family, our staff and all their many friends that they made during their time in Sydney. Omar is now an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School and we wish him the best of Aussie luck…..our loss is their gain!!!!
Reid came to us from UCSD, San Diego, with a glowing reference from one of my old and dear friends, Larry Marshall. Those of you who know Larry, know that Larry does not mince his words. If Larry doesn’t like someone, then that person knows it and so does everyone else, even if they don’t want to know! So when Larry told me that Reid was a solid doctor with excellent clinical skills, I believed him.
Reid demonstrated a level of commitment never before seen at the Centre. His care and concern for his patients took precedence over all other concerns. His surgical skills were excellent and matched his clinical acumen. True to form, Reid produced more peer-reviewed articles whilst our fellow than any other (…Mike Sughrue doesn’t count! ). Reid returned to UCSD with his beautiful wife where I’m sure he’ll make a huge impact on the US scene and will eventually settle in his home state of Hawaii. We wish him the best of luck….aloha !!
Patrick was also from Duke University. However, that’s probably the only thing he had in common with his predecessor, Vijay Agarwal. Vijay was loud, Patrick was quiet. Vijay had a crude, politically incorrect sense-of-humour, Patrick had a wicked, politically correct sense-of-humour. Patrick had a pedigree that read like the who’s who of academia….an engineering degree from Caltech, a medical degree and residency from Harvard and a joint appointment with the departments of engineering and neurosurgery at Duke University.
Like many fellows before him, Patrick sacrificed a lot to learn our minimally invasive techniques. For 6 months, he left his beautiful wife and young daughter to spend time in Sydney mastering keyhole cranial surgery…..not for financial reward, not because it was a compulsory component of his career, not for any other reason but to offer his future patients better outcomes. Patrick worked tirelessly while he was with us at the Centre. His commitment to patient care was second to none and his compassion and kindness to his patients was exemplary.
Patrick taught me about commitment. His vegan diet was not from any religious belief or any dietary likes or dislikes. It was solely a decision based on his love of sentient creatures and a knowledge that our current consumption of meat is unsustainable. Patrick will be missed by all, especially me.
What does one say about a colourful person who is larger-than-life and whose personality is so loud, that it silences all those around? If you know or have met Vijay, you know exactly what I mean. Vijay came to us from the auspicious halls of Duke University, arguably the best brain cancer centre in the world. We were told that he was a good resident, an innovative thinker with several patents to his name, and a hard working resident. We were not told that he was once a stand-up comedian, who has a wit that is sharper than a box-cutter and quicker than a rattle-snake. We were not told that he has self-confidence that makes confidant people like me look like church mice.
Vijay WAS a good resident and he WAS an innovative thinker and he did a superb job with his patient care. But more than that, he entertained us, amused us, and taught us some valuable lessons in life…..all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!
I will miss him very much, but I know that he will continue to bring joy and warmth to all those lucky enough to work with him.
Mike came to us from the University of Tennessee at which Prof. Rick Boop is the Chairman of Neurosurgery. Rick is also the President of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Mike holds the distinction of being the first and only fellow to be accepted without a personal interview. Given the many long hours that I spend with the fellow both in Sydney and overseas, the interview is an important aspect of the selection process as it is vital that I actually LIKE the fellow and feel that I would enjoy the time together.
Mike did not disappoint. Mike is a true “Southern” gentleman. He is not only a gifted surgeon, a devoted clinician and a compassionate doctor, he is a renaissance man with good humour, integrity and a warm and generous soul.
I really enjoyed the time that we spent together, and like many of my fellows, Mike taught me more about friendship, commitment and aspects of neurosurgery than I probably taught him.
Mike, we wish you all the best in the future and know that any patient who is lucky enough to have you as their surgeon, will be blessed as we were over the last 6 months.
Dr Nicholas Koechlin
Nick did his residency training in Zurich at the University of Zurich. This is considered one of the most prestigious centres in the world, indeed the hospital where Prof. Gazi Yasargil was Chairman for many years. He then completed a fellowship with Prof. Robert Reisch, considered one of the pioneers in minimally invasive neurosurgery. Nick was with us for 12 months. Initially as an Observational Fellow then as the Clinical Fellow.
Neurosurgery is arguably the most physically and emotionally taxing of all the medical and surgical specialties. It is a demanding discipline where patients can die unexpectedly and mistakes are unforgiving. With this pressure, neurosurgeons often develop a hard exterior, distancing themselves from their patients and sometimes even their loved ones. It is a plausible self-preservation defence mechanism. Nick was the opposite.
He was warm and compassionate with his patients and relatives and engaged all the nursing staff and other health care workers in his daily interactions. He was not only like this professionally but also in his social interactions. Nick is a technically excellent surgeon, who has been very well trained and will be a worthy addition to any neurosurgical team. We wish him and his beautiful family the best of Aussie luck.