- Joseph Ransohoff
Dr. Joseph 'Joe' Ransohoff, II (
July 1, 1915- January 30, 2001) was a pioneer in the field of neurosurgery. In addition to training numerous neurosurgeons, his "ingenuity in adapting advanced technologies" saved many lives and even influenced a television program, Ben Casey. [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F70C12FA3A550C718DDDAB0894D9404482 Obituary] from the New York Times] Among other innovations, he created the first intensive care unitdedicated to neurosurgery, and helped define the fields of pediatric neurosurgeryand neuroradiology. [ [http://www.ajnr.org/cgi/content/full/22/7/1440 Obituary] in the American Journal of Neuroradiology]
Early Life and Education
Ransohoff was born in
Cincinnati, Ohio, son of Dr. Joseph Louis Ransohoff II, a surgeon who himself was the son of a surgeon. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, although while attending Harvard he seriously considered dropping out in order to participate in the Spanish Civil War, due to his Communist sympathies. A favorite boast of his was that he was the only student in the history of the University to graduate on parole. He received his medical degree from the University of Chicagoin 1941 and went on to become a surgery instructor at the University of Cincinnati. Three years into his residency, he was drafted into the United States Armywhere he was taught neurosurgery, and after seeing action at the Battle of Normandyand the Battle of the Bulge, and personally befriending General George S. Patton, was assigned to air evacuation centers in Franceand Germany.
Fame and Death
After three years in the military, he completed his residency at
Montefiore Hospital. He went on to teach at Columbia Universityand practice surgery at the New York Neurologic Instituteat Presbyterian Hospitalbefore moving to New York UniversitySchool of Medicine to become chairman of its neurosurgery department in 1962, holding this prestigious position for 30 years. While in this capacity, Ransohoff was famed for hosting a weekly spinal and neurosurgical gathering for doctors of the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticutto come and seek his advice on challenging cases.
In 1992, Dr. Ransohoff left New York University Hospital for
Tampa, Florida, at the behest of the James A. Haley VA Hospital, which wanted to reform its neurosurgical department. Professionally he greatly improved the neurosurgical and spinal centers at the VA Hospital and Tampa General Hospital, and added greatly to the brain cancer research programs at Moffitt Cancer Center. In terms of his personal life, however, Dr. Ransohoff endured a spate of unwelcome publicity in 1999 after a 27-year-old lingerie model, Laura Holt, was sentenced to a year in jail for grand theft. She told police the doctor had given her more than $100,000 over time after her friends threatened to expose their affair.
Dr. Ransohoff died at his home on the morning of
January 3, 2001of natural causes.
Legacy and Influence
The book "Brain Surgeon: An Intimate View of His World" (ISBN 0-8041-0957-5) by
Lawrence Shainbergwas based on his life. He also served as a consultant to the popular television series " Ben Casey" and some viewers familiar with Dr. Ransohoff feel that Casey and Ransohoff have similar personalities. He was also a cousin on director/producer Martin Ransohoff.
* [http://www.societyns.org/society/bio.aspx?MemberID=3348 Deceased member profile] from the
Society of Neurological Surgeonswebpage
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.