Nancy Davis Reagan, First Lady with a neurosurgical legacy
Various well-known people associated with the history of the presidency of the United States have experienced neurological disease or injury, especially trauma to the head or spine. Nancy Reagan, however, as the wife of President Ronald Reagan and First Lady, would leave a significant and lasting mark on the progress of neurosurgical science and education. Recognized for endeavors against drug abuse, Alzheimer's disease, and polio, her interest in neurosurgical research is less well known. Nancy's father Loyal Davis was a remarkable neurosurgeon and educator of extraordinary influence. When Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) founder John Green experienced complications after an illness, Davis served as BNI director during 1966-1967. After Davis's death in 1982, Robert Spetzler, who had been a student of Davis at Northwestern University Medical School and was then BNI director, convinced Green, despite his misgivings, to support a neurosurgical laboratory recognizing Davis. In 1988, Nancy Reagan, then First Lady, dedicated the Loyal and Edith Davis Neurosurgical Research Laboratory. At the dedication, she remarked on her years growing up in the home of a pioneering neurosurgeon and remarked that "my father believed deeply in the importance of research to develop new methods for treating patients." Green and Spetzler's unified efforts honored the extraordinary career of Davis in a manner he would have appreciated, were supported by a First Lady with deep involvement in politics and philanthropy dedicated to promoting advances in medicine, and are part of neurosurgery's unique heritage.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Houlihan, Lena Mary; Staudinger Knoll, Ann J.; Jubran, Jubran H.; Farhadi, Dara S.; Benner, Dimitri; Zabramski, Joseph M.; Lawton, Michael T.; Spetzler, Robert F.; and Preul, Mark C., "Nancy Davis Reagan, First Lady with a neurosurgical legacy" (2021). Neurosurgery. 1451.