Authors: Evgenii Belykh; Xiaochun Zhao; Claudio Cavallo; Sirin Gandhi, MD; Leandro Borba Moreira, MD; Daniel Valli, MD; Ali Tayebi Meybodi; Aqib Zehri; Richard Leblanc, MD; Mark Preul, MD (Irkutsk, Russian Federation)
In 1927 Edward Archibald “the father of chest surgery” recommended to McGill University to establish a sub-department in neurosurgery and to hire a full-time neurosurgeon. Archibald contacted his colleagues in New York who recommended Wilder Penfield at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Archibald met Penfield in New York and observed his neurosurgical procedure. Archibald invited Penfield to Montreal and transitioning neurosurgical cases to Penfield. Archibald envisioned the hub of neurosurgery would be transferred from Boston to Montreal through scholarly activity in histology, physiology, and experimental procedures in neurosurgery directed by Penfield, while Penfield envisioned Montreal to be suitable headquarters dedicated to neuroscience and patient care. When Boston City Hospital offered Penfield to organize a neurosurgical service from cross-town rival Cushing, Archibald prudently advised Penfield that taking such a position would engender enmity and would not lead to a productive neurosurgical career. Archibald worked diligently to meet Penfield’s requests. Penfield accepted the offer, performing his first neurosurgical operation on October 18, 1928 in Montreal. With Archibald’s assistance, Penfield secured a foothold in Montreal to pursue founding an institute for scientific study and treatment for neurological disorders that Archibald initiated. Yet the underlying story reflects a more intimate, respectful, supportive, and even humorous relationship between two men. Penfield’s dream happened because of a powerful combination of shared vision and mentoring. We explored this unique history using the Penfield-Osler and Cushing Archives and long correspondence (over 100 letters) between Archibald and Penfield, aided by Archibald-Cushing material. Archibald and Penfield displayed the mutual trust, insight, energy, support, confidence, wisdom, and personal concern that are integral for success in and out of a professional relationship. Penfield and Archibald’s relationship should stand as a model for principles of mentoring in neurosurgery, and allowed for progress of the professionalization, practice and science of neurosurgery in North America.