Jack Rock, M.D., F.A.C.S., Vice Chair of Education for the Department of Neurosurgery and the Director of the Neurosurgery Residency Program at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI, will receive the 2018 American Association of Neurological Surgeons’ (AANS) Humanitarian Award next spring. The award is presented annually to one neurosurgeon worldwide who is not only recognized as a luminary in his or her specialty, but, who has also made substantial efforts to make the field of neurosurgery more accessible in the developing world.
“Practicing medicine in the United States comes with an enormous responsibility,” said Dr. Rock. “With the training, technology, and techniques we have to treat these complex conditions, we have an obligation to pay it forward. This is a tangible way we can help improve the overall quality of life in the areas where we commit our time and resources.”
For Dr. Rock, that commitment is to the people of Myanmar in Southeast Asia. In 2004, he became an active member of the Foundation for International Education in Neurosurgery (FIENS), founded to address the critical lack of trained neurosurgeons in developing countries. After making several trips to different areas of Southeast Asia and Africa, Rock settled on Myanmar.
“The people of Yangon were so welcoming and eager to spend time with us,” said Dr. Rock. “After my first visit there, I realized that in order to make a real impact, as small as it may be, I needed to establish a continuing presence in one location.”
Dr. Rock has since made multiple trips to the country, providing both education and hands-on training for many neurosurgical procedures. He led the medical team in performing Myanmar’s first awake craniotomy for brain tumor in 2015 and the country’s first ever craniofacial operation for the successful removal of a skull based tumor in 2016.
He made two more landmark trips in 2017. During the first, he successfully ran the first ever neurosurgical resident “boot camp” in Yangon, a two-day event, which hosted 45 residents and 25 faculty from nearly a dozen countries including Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal, Singapore, and South Korea. During the second trip, he led the surgical team of local neurosurgeons in a six hour operation to remove an arteriovenous malformation in the dominant hemisphere of the brain of an 18-year-old girl. She had traveled with her family from several hours outside Yangon to North Oakkalapa Hospital for the procedure. Myanmar’s Ministry of Health has since recognized the Henry Ford Department of Neurosurgery as one of its official partners.
Dr. Rock is expected to receive the AANS award at the organization’s annual conference in the spring of 2018, for both his work to advance neuroscience in Myanmar and for his lifelong commitment to education and training the next generation of neurological surgeons. In addition to being vice chair of education for the Department of Neurosurgery and the director of the Neurosurgery Residency Program, Dr. Rock is also the co-director for Henry Ford’s Surgical Neuro-Oncology Clinic and Metastatic Brain Tumor Program, as well as director of the Skull Base and Pituitary Tumor Program. Rock says teaching has always been a great passion for him.
“It’s my hope that the generation that follows us is ready to build on what we’ve passed on to them, and that’s a commitment I intend to keep.”
Brenda D. Craig
Director, Media Relations
Henry Ford Health System