On July 25, more than 100 guests gathered to celebrate The Elizabeth G. and Gary J. Nabel Family Professorship in Surgery at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and its inaugural incumbent, Brigham President Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA.
This endowed professorship, which is the highest honor HMS can bestow on a faculty member at one of the school’s affiliated institutions, will stand in perpetuity and be held by the president of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The professorship is named for former Brigham President Betsy Nabel, MD, and her husband, Gary Nabel, MD, PhD, who made a $1 million gift to support its creation and were joined in their generosity by several Brigham Board of Trustees members.
Higgins — who was lauded for his exemplary leadership, pioneering contributions to surgery and research, and tremendous dedication to mentorship and service — described the appointment as “the honor of a lifetime.”
“It’s a privilege to build and expand on the great work of my predecessor, Dr. Betsy Nabel, whose leadership elevated the Brigham to new heights as a premier academic medical center during her impressive tenure,” Higgins said. “Betsy left an indelible mark on the Brigham, and as the steward of this generous gift, I hope to ensure these resources advance our clinical and research enterprise.”
Nabel said she looks forward to seeing Higgins lead the Brigham into its next great chapter.
“By creating this professorship honoring the Brigham president in perpetuity, it’s our collective hope the institution continues to grow better every day,” she said. “No doubt, Dr. Higgins will make a far-reaching impact and nurture the Brigham’s strengths into the future.”
Attendees of the July 25 celebration included hospital leaders, invited speakers, and the Nabel and Higgins families and loved ones. Throughout the evening, guests were treated to warm remarks and stories that highlighted Higgins and the Nabels as leaders, innovators and mentors — and also showcased the collective strength of the Brigham community.
HMS Dean George Q. Daley, MD, PhD, kicked off the celebration, which included remarks by Board of Trustees Chair John Fish, who presented Higgins with a proclamation celebrating and recognizing Higgins’ many achievements.
In addition to the evening’s three guests of honor, other speakers included Gerard M. Doherty, MD, chair of the Brigham’s Department of Surgery and surgeon-in-chief, and Jeffrey Leiden, MD, PhD, executive chairman of Vertex Pharmaceuticals and an alumnus of the Brigham’s residency and fellowship training programs. Daley also read heartfelt remarks from TIMI Study Group Chairman Eugene Braunwald, MD, in his absence, and Brigham primary care physician Thomas H. Lee Jr. MD, and William A. Baumgartner, MD, one of Higgins’ mentors, shared words of praise and congratulations.
Reflecting on his first several months as president, Higgins said the inspiring and welcoming community he found here has exceeded his expectations in every way.
“Throughout my career, I’ve always known the Brigham to be a special place — a place of innovation and inquiry, compassion and caring, and academic rigor and unparalleled mentorship,” Higgins said. “Now that I’ve had the opportunity to experience this community firsthand, I am impressed by the talent, ingenuity, dedication and expertise that exist throughout every corner.”