Born in 1957, in Tuskegee Alabama. Robert and Lilian Black, were the parents of a very curious young boy, which we now know and admire as DR. Keith Black. From a very young age he realized his passion for Science, he not only did counted on his parents support, they did everything in their power to cultivate and nurture his talent and gift. His interest began as early as he can remember. He was interested and curious in how birds could fly, how nature worked.
He shares a memory that he not only holds in his brain but one that he keeps close to his heart.
“At the age of 8 my mother and I were in the kitchen, she was cleaning a chicken and I asked her for the heart. Once she gave it to me, I took it outside and began to dissect it. My Father watched, the following day, he brought me a turkey heart, and the following week he went to the nearest slaughter house and brought me a bigger one, a cow’s heart. I was interested in how the muscles, heart valve and tissue all connected. It was wonderful to be able to dissect at this age, but what was more wonderful was that my parents were great and saw this interest.”
In the tenth grade he performed his first official organ transplant on his first patient, a dog.
As an African-American growing up in Alabama and Ohio, Black benefited from the emphasis his scholarly parents put on learning. “ I was brought up to believe that there was nothing that I could not do,”.
At the age of 17, He published his first scientific paper, which won the Westinghouse Science award. Also referred to as “ the nation’s oldest and most prestigious” science competition..
He attended the University of Michigan medical school’s accelerated program. He earned both his undergraduate and medical degrees in six years.
It was when he arrived in Medical School and took his first course in Nuro Anatomy that he started learning about the brain, while learning the anatomy and structure of the brain he became fascinated with the mere idea that he could not imagine there being anything in this universe more beautiful than the brain. “I fell in love with the brain”
Dr. Keith L. Black, MD serves as Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and Director of the Maxine Dunitz Neu-rosurgical Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center .
He also holds the title of Professor in the Department of Neu-rosurgery. An internationally renowned neurosurgeon and scientist, Dr. Black joined Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
in July 1997 and was awarded the Ruth and Lawrence Harvey Chair in Neuroscience in November of that year.
He is also Director of the Johnnie L. Cohran Jr. Bran Tumor Center at Cedars Sinai medical center. Which treats all types of brain tumors, both malignant and benign, for children and adults.
He performs 200 to 300 surgeries a year, yet he views himself as being humble. Dr Black ultimately would love to eliminate the need of performing brain surgery.
His views on being happy and successful, “ finding what you love to do and doing it, if you do what you love then you never have to work another day of your life.”
He would encourage children that have the desire and love of science & nature to study and really come to understand Science and Nature.
Particularly now there will be more jobs in science, medicine and nursing.
They will not only have the advantage of being compensated while doing something they love, they will have the opportunity of knowing the greatest gratification of any line of work, which is knowing that they have the potential of saving a life. And helping that person live a longer, healthier life with their families and loved ones.
“If I didn’t get paid to do what I do, I would pay to do it”.
written by Sonia Navarro // photography by Curtis Williams