The role of chief White House physician has traditionally been held by an individual with a background in a broad medical field, such as emergency medicine, family medicine, or internal medicine. Dr. Daniel Ruge, who served as the director of the Spinal Cord Injury Service for the Veterans Administration and was appointed during President Ronald Reagan’s first term, was the first neurosurgeon to become the chief White House physician. Aside from being the first neurosurgeon to serve in this capacity, Dr. Ruge also stands apart from others who have held this esteemed position because of how he handled Reagan’s care after an attempt was made on the then-president’s life. Instead of calling upon leading medical authorities of the time to care for the president, Dr. Ruge instead decided that Reagan should be treated as any trauma patient would be treated. Dr. Ruge’s actions after the assassination attempt on President Reagan resulted in the rapid, smooth recovery of the then-president. Daniel Ruge’s background, his high-profile roles and heavy responsibilities, and his critical decision-making are characteristics that make his role in the history of medicine and of neurosurgery unique.
A. Karim Ahmed, Eduardo Martinez-del-Campo and Nicholas Theodore
Ari M. Blitz, A. Karim Ahmed and Daniele Rigamonti
Because of his exceptional and pioneering contributions to the understanding and treatment of neurosurgical conditions, Walter Dandy is considered to be one of the founders of both neurosurgery and neuroradiology. In the field of hydrocephalus, Dandy developed revolutionary research models, imaging modalities, and operative procedures. His laboratory and clinical experiences at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, including the surgical treatment of hydrocephalus, are well illustrated in the publications he authored. Archival materials housed at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine provide a window into Dandy’s clinical experience and supplement the work published during his lifetime. His operative experience with hydrocephalus spanned 1915–1946 and comprised 381 surgeries. From this clinical experience, Dandy created much of the framework for modern diagnostic imaging and treatment of hydrocephalus.