Even an expert statistician would have trouble calculating the odds that David B. Keidan and Emad Eskandar, M.D., would ever cross paths.
The former is a septuagenarian Jew from India who runs an investment management firm in Manhattan. The latter is a 50-something Coptic Christian from Egypt who practices neurosurgery in the Bronx. And yet these two men, from different countries, cultures, generations, and professions, share an interest in raising neurological surgery at Einstein and Montefiore to new heights.
The Bronx is a melting pot par excellence—much like Montefiore and Einstein. Different perspectives, cultures, and ideas allow for synergies that can and do repair the world.
— David B. Keidan
His first visit to Montefiore was to the Center for Abused Women and Children. “That went right to my heart,” says Mr. Keidan, who joined the Board of Trustees in 2004. Later, he decided to support the pediatric critical-care unit, now named after him and his wife, Georgia.
In recent days, Mr. Keidan has turned his philanthropic attention to neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, stroke, and depression. “These are growing problems for our aging population, with a devastating impact on families as well as patients,” he says. “We have a first-rate, interdisciplinary team at Montefiore to address these issues, and I want to do what I can to help this institution develop cutting-edge treatments.”
Mr. Keidan’s latest gift to Montefiore is an endowment to establish the David B. Keidan Chair in Neurological Surgery, which Dr. Eskandar now holds. At Einstein, Dr. Eskandar is also the Jeffrey P. Bergstein Chair in Neurological Surgery in the Leo M. Davidoff Department of Neurological Surgery.
“I’m proud of what this institution has done,” Mr. Keidan says. “Not only has our great leadership team created a unique model for community care, which has attracted the attention of Albany and Washington, D.C., but it also had the foresight to invest very early in electronic health records, which has put us at the forefront of leveraging health data for better care and better management.
“I admire the goals and the effectiveness of our community programs, which have done things like reduce unwanted pregnancies in schools, improve access to fresh, healthy foods, and reach into homes to take care of patients who are too sick to come to us,” he says. “This is unconventional medicine, outside the usual hospital mandate. But then, we are not a ‘usual’ hospital. The Bronx is a melting pot par excellence—much like Montefiore and Einstein. Different perspectives, cultures, and ideas allow for synergies that can and do repair the world.”
I enjoyed my time at Harvard, but I felt there was a tremendous opportunity here in the Bronx to develop new clinical programs, promote new research, and reach out to a much broader group of patients.
— Dr. Emad Eskandar
In 2018, Dr. Eskandar joined Einstein and Montefiore. “I enjoyed my time at Harvard, but I felt there was a tremendous opportunity here in the Bronx to develop new clinical programs, promote new research, and reach out to a much broader group of patients,” he says. “Neurological surgery is quite strong at Einstein and Montefiore,” Dr. Eskandar adds. “However, there’s a huge mismatch between the scope of the department and the size of the population we serve, especially with the expansion of Montefiore’s health system.”
Under Dr. Eskandar’s leadership, Montefiore has opened a comprehensive stroke center (the only one between the Bronx and Albany, New York) and a comprehensive spine center (a joint effort with the departments of orthopedics and rehabilitation medicine). There are also plans for a center for surgical optimization within the spine center, a neurovascular center, and a skull-based-tumor center.
With the Keidan family’s generous support, we’ll be able to study new paradigms, such as neuromodulation, for the treatment of addiction, Alzheimer’s, and other devastating diseases.
— Dr. Emad Eskandar
In addition, Dr. Eskandar intends to invest heavily in research. “I’m a scientist at heart, injecting research into everything I do,” he says.
“This is where the resources of the Keidan chair are invaluable,” he adds. “Many people don’t realize that the National Institutes of Health, the largest funder of biomedical research, tends to support fairly well established ideas—but not the edge-of-the-envelope studies that can transform healthcare. With the Keidan family’s generous support, we’ll be able to study new paradigms, such as neuromodulation [the application of electrical currents to modify parts of the brain], for the treatment of addiction, Alzheimer’s, and other devastating diseases.”
Unconventional thinking is nothing new for Dr. Eskandar. In 2014, he earned a master’s degree in business administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, seeking to apply the principles of business management to healthcare.
“There’s a whole body of knowledge about optimizing systems in different industries. We can learn lessons from this work and use it to better manage everything from emergency rooms to operating rooms to imaging suites,” he says. “Healthcare is notoriously complicated and inefficient. We need new fixes.”