Keith Black, MD, Wins Pioneer in Medicine Award

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Keith L. Black, MD

Keith L. Black, MD, an internationally renowned neurosurgeon and neuroscientist, has received the Cedars-Sinai's Pioneer in Medicine Award in recognition of his groundbreaking research and clinical contributions.

The honor was presented during the Annual Meeting of the Medical Staff, held in Harvey Morse Auditorium on Monday, Oct. 22, and was accepted on Black's behalf by his son, Keith, and his wife, Carol.

Black, who was in Uganda at the time of the event, expressed his gratitude via a video message.

"I cannot tell you how proud I am to be a part of the Cedars-Sinai family, how proud I am of all of the incredible colleagues—both on the clinical side and the scientific side—that I have at Cedars-Sinai and how proud I am of this recognition," Black said to an audience of colleagues and close friends. "It is truly humbling."

Black joined Cedars-Sinai in 1997 as professor and inaugural chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. He continues to serve in both roles and has since been appointed Ruth and Lawrence Harvey Chair in Neuroscience and director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute.

During the award presentation, Paul W. Noble, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine and director of the Women's Guild Lung Institute, presented an overview of Black's achievements, saying Black has had an "extraordinary" two decades at Cedars-Sinai, which has led to worldwide recognition for both his scientific expertise and his care of brain cancer patients.

Black's breakthroughs include the development of methods to open up the blood-brain barrier, allowing chemotherapeutic agents to reach brain tumors; the development of tools to better identify brain tumor tissues by "painting" the brain using a chemical derived from scorpions; and the development of vaccines to treat glioblastoma multiforme, the deadliest form of brain tumor.

Noble also acknowledged Black's contributions to inspiring the next generation of neuroscientists through his work with Cedars-Sinai's educational initiatives, such as Brainworks and the Pauletta and Denzel Washington Family Gifted Scholars in Neuroscience Program.

Black's significant impact as a clinician as well as a scientist was captured during a video presentation in which colleagues and former patients conveyed their gratitude for his work.

"Keith is an exceptionally brilliant man with an enthusiasm for sailing and other hobbies that matches his enthusiasm for taking care of patients," said Bruce Gewertz, MD, surgeon-in-chief and chair of the Department of Surgery. "Having said that, he brings a seriousness and a purpose, which is the kind of attitude that patients faced with a life-threatening disease really need, and he does that with a great degree of empathy. That’s what truly distinguishes him."

For his work, Black has received numerous past honors, including the prestigious Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the National Institutes of Health, the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science President's Medal of Honor, and the Howard I. Wilner, MD, Alumnus of the Year Award from the Cedars-Sinai Alumni Association.