Jamshid Ghajar, is a well-known neurosurgeon, president of the Brain Trauma Foundation, chief of Neurosurgery at New York’s Jamaica Hospital-Cornell trauma center and a practicing neurosurgeon at New York Hospital . In 1996, he saved the life of a woman who was savagely beaten in Manhattan’s Central Park using innovative neurosurgical procedures, Jamshid now answers our questionnaire:
How are you related to the Qajar family?
My paternal lineage is as follows:
- Jamshid Ghahremani Ghajar
- Farhad Ghahremani Ghajar
- Mohamad Mehdi Ghahremani Ghajar (Amin Houzour)
- Kuymars Mirza Ghahremani Ghajar (Amid Doleh)
- Ghahreman Mirza Ghajar (Yamin Doleh) (natural brother of Ahmad Shah)
- Abbas Mirza Ghajar (Nayeb Saltaneh)
- Fathali Shah Ghajar
How important for you personally is it to belong to our family?
This is a very important link to a remarkable history and tradition.
Do you have a favourite Qajar king?
Fath Ali Shah
What is the most important legacy, in your opinion, the Qajar family has left for Iran?
The greatest legacy of the Qajar dynasty is the creation and preservation of the current geographic entity that is Iran. With out the Qajar kings, in the age of colonial imperialism, Iran would have been divided and subdivided by the European powers such that nothing of Iranian national identity would have been left.
In fact, in the absence of the Qajars, the nationalistic/constitutional movement of the early Twentieth Century would never have taken place. The Qajars were the first royalty to travel to Europe and realized that the world had a new order. They started Iran on the road to industrialization and development, not a small task given the limited economic, bureaucratic and financial resources they had at their disposal.
Where did you grow up?
Essentially I grew up at the airport. I was born in Berkeley, California where my father attended University then lived in Iran till age five and moved back to California and then to Tehran. I then attended private boarding school in England till age 16. My childhood was split between California, England and Iran.
Where did you receive your education?
English boarding school, UCLA and Cornell Medical College
About your work: you invented several neurosurgical devices, founded the Brain Trauma Foundation and started several companies. Did you have a wish since childhood to become a surgeon? What was the path to your career?
I am very curious and generally open to new ideas. My older sister Jamileh had a neurological condition and I was always frustrated that she was not normal. My intellectual curiosity and drive to help my sister and others led me to the brain. At first I studied and researched the brain in my studies at UCLA, but found it incomplete – I realized that I needed to understand the practical and clinical aspects of brain function. The combined MD and PhD program at Cornell gave me the knowledge and skills to pursue neurosurgery, which I find very gratifying by helping patients and by the challenges in improving care.
What would you say is your biggest life’s achievement?
Getting married to my wife Allison and the births of my daughters Farah, Lailee and Hana. I am also very privileged in having made a difference in saving people’s lives, both directly in my practice and indirectly through my foundation.
What’s your favourite hobby when you’re off work?
Spending time with my family and searching for answers to new questions.
Is there a particular message you’d like to convey to our family?
We should be proud of being part of the Ghajar (Qajar) heritage and continue to make our historical roots accessible to others to share in the history of those times. We also need to individually stand on the shoulders of past Qajars and make a difference in the world around us.
Dr Jamshid Ghajar