Richard M. Lehman, M.D., MED '62
Dr. Richard Lehman, M.D., MED '62 grew up right outside of Philadelphia, and in many ways a career in medicine seemed predestined. His father was a prominent Philadelphian surgeon, a path that Lehman's brother would also ultimately pursue. But when Lehman began his first year of medical school at Temple in 1958, it was psychology, not surgery, that had piqued his interest. But right off the bat, he recalls "during my freshmen year I took a month of neuroanatomy, and I found it very interesting." Before he knew it, he was finding a lifelong avocation in neurosurgery.
This was an exciting and energetic time for the field. The biological basis for psychology was only beginning to be explored, and even the idea of minimally invasive brain surgery was still very new. Dr. Lehman suddenly found himself on the front lines of neurosurgery, while still a medical student and later resident. He recalls the time he spent studying with neurosurgery legends like Philip Gildenberg, Ernest Spiegal and Henry Wycis. Several years before, Weiss and Spiegal had pioneered totally novel forms of neurosurgery, including performing the first stereotactic neurosurgery at Temple Hospital, a procedure that became widely used in the treatment of Parkinson's Disease and other neurological disorders. "Being a part of Temple Medicine during the time I was there was like being a part of the New York Yankees during the 40's and 50's," Dr. Lehman observes.
After leaving Temple, Dr. Lehman dedicated his life's work to neurosurgery, following in the footsteps of his mentors. And, through that time, he continued to be a dedicated, active and proud alumnus of Temple, even after leaving Philadelphia for South Carolina, where he now lives.
As Dr. Lehman considers his own legacy as a neurosurgeon and Temple alumnus, he stresses the idea of giving back. So he named Temple University School of Medicine in his will, with the hope that his gift can eventually help other students find their way.
"It's important to look back on your life and look at what you've done and the friends you've made, and feel a sense of pride," he notes. "That's what Temple means to me, I wouldn't have had the same experiences or success that I did, had I gone to any of the other schools in the city. I would just not be the person I am today without Temple, and I want to make sure other students have that same opportunity."
"You can never give back as much as you get," he adds. "But it's worth a try."