Renn Holness

Dr. Renn Holness

Professor, Neurosurgery / Director of Surgical Education (Retired), Department of Surgery, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS. & Jamaica. Born: Jamaica.

Dr. Renn Holness was the Professor of Neurosurgery and Director of Surgical Education in the Department of Surgery at Dalhousie University in 2009. He was also the Staff Neurosurgeon at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre. In 1992, he became the first neurosurgeon in Canada to perform fetal tissue transplants for Parkinson’s disease.

Currently, he is in the process of setting up a neurosurgical service in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and assisting in the teaching and examinations of medical students and residents at the University of the West Indies. (The university has campuses in Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados and Nassau.)

Areas of interest: Surgical education and methods of evaluation; pituitary and skull base surgery; vascular neurosurgery; international neurosurgical education.

Highlights: Department of Neurosurgery, Dalhousie University, Lecturer (1977-78; Assistant Professor (1981-83); Associate Professor (1983-87); Program Director, Neurosurgical Residency (1983-90); Professor and Head, Department of Neurosurgery and Victoria General Hospital (1987-94); Professor and Head, Division Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, Dalhousie University and Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre (1994-2000). He was Chair of the Examining Board in Neurosurgery, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (1996-2000); Guest Lecturer at Morehouse Medical School, GA (1999); and the Peter Moyes Lecturer, at University of British Columbia (1993).

Affiliations: Canadian Neurosurgical Society (Secretary, 1992-94; President, 1995); Editorial Board, Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences; Director/Dean, University of the West Indies (UWI) Clinical Training Programme, Bahamas (2000).

Honours: Several including, award by the Caribbean College of Surgeons for his contribution to Caribbean surgery and neurosurgery (2010); Honourary degree (DSc) in Medicine and allied disciplines (2010); inclusion in Who’s Who in Black Canada 2 (2006); Dr. John Savage Memorial Award in International Health, Dalhousie University (2005); Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre Distinguished Service Award (2000); UWI 50th Anniv. Alumni Achievement Award (1998); Distinguished Graduate Award, UWI (1996).

Works: In Journal of Neurosurgery; Canadian Journal of Surgery; Transplantation & Implantation Today; Canadian Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences; The New England Journal of Medicine.

Reviewed in: Canada at the Millennium; The Medical Post; Black Focus.

Education: Senior Fellow, Neurosurgery, St. Michael’s Hospital (1977); Senior Resident, Paediatric Neurosurgery (1976); Resident, Neurosurgery (1975); MB BS/II, UWI (1968); BSc/ Hons, Anatomy, UK (1965); MB BS/I, UWI (1964).

Favourite book? The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die by John Izzo. It opened my eyes and my heart to things I have been shutting out and gave me priceless food for thought that might have taken me another thirty years to glean. The stories are profound; even the one-sentence: “Life-changing thoughts are, well, life changing, because sometimes the most simple of things make the most impact.”

Favourite quote?“An individual has not started living until he/she can rise above the narrow confines of their individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Given the chance, what would you love to do that you haven’t done yet? Play a musical instrument, especially the guitar.

What inspires you? The human spirit to survive despite all odds… Something I encounter every day of my life.

Why do you do what you do? Having some innate ability as well as having been given the opportunity by my parents & mentors, I have been allowed the privilege of exerting an impact in an area of medicine in which positive results have been traditionally hard to achieve.