First International Fellow Opens World of Possibilities

Posted on Mar 16, 2017

The groundbreaking appointment of Nir Shimony, M.D., the first international pediatric neurosurgery fellow at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, not only adds to the institution’s prestige and prominence but has far-reaching effects for many.

Pursuing a Passion

“I believe we can do much more for those who suffer from diseases affecting the nervous system, and I am willing to dedicate my life to this goal,” says Shimony, who completed his six-year residency with emphasis on pediatric and oncological neurosurgery at the Tel Aviv Medical Center. It is the second-largest and one of the most progressive full-service health care treatment and research institutions in Israel.

“I am passionate about treating patients with central nervous system pathologies, especially children and infants suffering from oncological pathologies and epilepsy,” Shimony explains. “I am intrigued by the human brain’s marvelous structure and function.”

Johns Hopkins All Children’s pediatric neurology program is devoted to treating a full range of neurologic problems in infants, children and teens. The hospital works closely with board-certified pediatric neurosurgeons.

The new fellow pointed out that there is a grave need for pediatric neurosurgeons in the Middle East. Israel, for example, has only five doctors who can perform complex pediatric neurosurgeries. In his short time in St. Petersburg, Shimony said his family—wife Hila, children Liya, 8, Darya, 7, and Yahav, 2, and a Siberian Husky, Alpha—have acclimated and are settling in, thanks to the hospitality of coworkers. “Everyone helps without asking. It’s fantastic,” he says.

Care and Training with Global Reach

George Jallo, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Institute for Brain Protection Sciences, sees the new fellowship and Shimony’s appointment boosting the hospital’s international profile, which will help attract and train the next generation of pediatric neurosurgeons and further the hospital’s ability to serve patients from many different cultures.

After spending one week with Jallo in 2015, Shimony expressed admiration for his work and dedication. “I saw Dr. Jallo as a future mentor. I want to learn as much as I can from him.”

“My goal is for the international patients and families to feel that this is the best hospital in the world to get their care,” Jallo says.

“I’m a strong advocate for training the next generation of pediatric neurosurgeons. Pediatric fellowships are scarce in the rest of the world. There are very few in Europe and none in the Middle East. Dr. Shimony wants to practice pediatric neurosurgery in Israel. By helping fine-tune his skill set, we can significantly improve the health of children in that part of the world.”

The integration of Johns Hopkins with All Children’s in 2011 expanded opportunities for physicians such as Shimony, Jallo explains. “Training highly qualified young physicians is a testament to our educational capabilities,” he says. “It also expands our ability to continue our educational mission. When they go to other parts of the nation or the world to practice, it’s like we’re sending disciples forth from the mothership.”

An Inspiring Gift

Jenine Rabin, executive vice president of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation, believes the donor-supported fellowship can inspire philanthropy for myriad Johns Hopkins All Children’s programs.

Shimony’s appointment—known as the Tom Dorety Fellowship in the Institute for Brain Protection Sciences—is funded by a gift from Tampa Bay Area Credit Unions for Kids in honor of Dorety’s retirement from the Suncoast Credit Union.

“Suncoast has been enthusiastic about our programs in the past,” Rabin says, “and supporting this fellowship also gave them the opportunity to honor Mr. Dorety.”

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