Michael Salcman, MD

Class Year: 1969

Specialties: Neurosurgery

Current practice: small group, consultations only since I turned 60

Do you remember what motivated you to make your first gift to BUSM?
I absolutely loved being at BUSM, the old quirky buildings, the research facilities, the quality of teaching. I was very proud of having Dick Egdahl, John Mannick and Ed Spatz as surgical mentors and models, of making rounds at BCH [Boston City Hospital] with the dynamic trio of Franz Ingelfinger, Arnold Relman and Norman Levinsky, of learning neuroscience from Norm Geschwind, Ed Evarts, Walle Nauta and Jerry Lettvin, all famous names in American medicine. I was extremely well prepared for my subsequent training in brain research at NIH and neurosurgery at Columbia’s Neurological Institute. I loved living in Worcester Square and Boston, even met my wife at BU and did my surgical internship at BUSM. My published poem about when we carried our anatomical donor from the Ice House was read on All Things Considered.

Why do you continue to give to BUSM?
See all the wonderful memories above and how much I owe to the excellence of the school. The 6-Year Program set me up for virtually every phase of my life, art, medicine and poetry. I want BUSM to get the recognition it deserves, I wish to help it maintain the excellence of its research and teaching for the sake of future graduates and future patients.

What would you tell current students about the importance of giving back to BUSM?
Most great institutions depend on the generosity of their alumni as well as on government support and the income from providing medical care. Alumni are the most reliable source because they are not directly subject to the whims of political decision-making, they are or should be motivated by pride in having attended BUSM and they owe much of their subsequent happiness, professional standing and material comfort to their education at BUSM.

Fond memory of BUSM:
I have spent ten years working on my memoir, Living in My Head, A Memoir of Art, Medicine and Poetry, in which several chapters are devoted to the BUSM experience including one called Hoses in Our Noses when we had to practice inserting NG tubes, venipuncture and other bedside procedures on one another in a clinical lab course. I loved delivering babies at Worcester General, my Psychiatry rotation at McLean’s, and the Home Health Service since I knew I would not be doing any of these things again after becoming a neurosurgeon. My fondest memory is of all those classmates who took terrific candid photographs (unknown to me) for a surprise Yearbook about our BUSM years and documented with great good humor our foibles and faux pas. It’s been fifty years and it feels like yesterday.

Favorite professor or course at BUSM:
Jose Segarra, a neuropathologist at the Boston V.A. Hospital who was asked to step up in an emergency provoked by the recent death of Arthur M. Lassek, the chair of Anatomy and a prominent neuroanatomist. We would not have had a first year neuroanatomy course without his great good humor and his connections to world-famous neuroscientists at MIT, Harvard and the NIH. He told great jokes, was a terrific performer and our emergency guest roster of such world stars as Lettvin, Nauta, Evarts and Geschwind gave us the finest and most inspiring first year neuro course in the history of BUSM.