They followed very different paths, but George Jallo, M.D., and Neil Goldenberg, M.D., Ph.D., ended up in the same place — at the pinnacle of academic medicine success at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Jallo, who was born in Bethlehem, came to this country from Lebanon at age 5 and says, he “didn’t speak a word of English.” Goldenberg, whose father is a doctor, jokes that “maybe it's true that one of my first words as a toddler was ‘monoclonal.’”
Both achieved remarkable success, and on Thursday, each was installed with an academic endowment in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Despite their achievements, each was described with words such as “humble,” “compassionate” and “dedicated.” Both of them cited the influence of their parents, mentors, colleagues and family as the keys to their success.
“The support and sacrifices made by our spouses, children and parents are often critical to the success that each of us achieves in pursuing our goals and in making an impact through our professional work,” says Goldenberg, associate dean for clinical and translational research and director of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.
Goldenberg becomes the Perry Family Endowed Professor in Clinical and Translational Research, and Jallo is the David M. Goldenberg Family Endowed Chair in the Institute for Brain Protection Sciences.
Endowed professorships were established nearly 500 years ago with the creation of the Lady Margaret chairs in divinity at Oxford and Cambridge. These chairs were sponsored by Margaret, Countess of Richmond and grandmother of Henry VIII, in 1546. Henry VIII established the Regius Professorships at both universities in five subjects: divinity, civil law, Hebrew, Greek, and physics — what we now know as medicine and the basic sciences.
“Endowed chairs are central to the Johns Hopkins mission,” says Paul Rothman, M.D., the Frances Watt Baker, M.D., and Lenox D. Baker Jr., M.D., Dean of the Medical Faculty and Chief Executive Officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine. “They help us reward and retain faculty so they can focus on what they do best, treating patients, creating ground-breaking research and teaching the leaders of tomorrow.”
Jallo, vice dean, physician-in-chief and medical director of the Institute for Brain Protection Sciences at Johns Hopkins All Children’s, developed a personal relationship with the family who endowed his chair. In 2004, he treated David M. Goldenberg’s then 5-year-old granddaughter, Rachel, for a challenging spinal cord tumor. The procedure was a success and Jallo and Goldenberg, a doctor and pioneer in monoclonal antibodies and immunotherapy, have spent hours discussing the brain and research related to it.
“George Jallo, in my view, not only contributes eminently to pediatric patient management, but also to the academic advancement of one of the most challenging areas of medicine,” David Goldenberg says.
Although they met when Jallo worked at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Goldenberg continued to support Jallo when he moved to Florida in 2015 to establish the Institute for Brain Protection Sciences.
“It has been my lifelong dream to bring together surgeons, neurologists, psychologists, psychiatrists with a focus around the one organ, the child’s brain, to provide comprehensive, inclusive neurological care for all children,” Jallo says. “Thank you, David, for supporting me and the brain institute so faithfully all this time.”
Neil Goldenberg came to Johns Hopkins All Children’s in 2012 as director of research with the mission of building the hospital’s research infrastructure and enhancing its academic mission.
“Dr. Goldenberg recognized years ago that even though one in 200 hospitalized children developed blood clots, there was no robust data set to evaluate the efficacy of treatments,” says Ronald J. Daniels, J.D., LL.M., president of The Johns Hopkins University. “This meant that too many children were being treated with insufficient information. In fact, they were frequently being treated not as children but as miniature adults. To answer this problem, Dr. Goldenberg launched the Kids-DOTT trial, a landmark, multinational randomized clinical trial to determine how long blood thinners ought to be used for children with thrombosis. The results have already begun to reshape thinking in the field.”
The Perry family endowment resulted from an unrestricted gift the family made to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation.
“When we received notification of the Perry family estate gift, I immediately thought of how much Dr. Goldenberg has brought to our institution and how a designation of this fund to research and to a professorship for Dr. Goldenberg would be transformational to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital,” says Jenine Rabin, executive vice president for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation, which directed the Perry family bequest to establish the endowment. “Neil has poured himself into his expertise in building a world-class research enterprise on our campus. I've had the opportunity with the Foundation team to raise funds and direct donations toward research having the utmost confidence that our programs under Neil's direction would do astonishing things.”