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Dr. Malcolm V. Brock: A Brilliant Bermudian Abroad

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by Vejay Steede

 Bermudians move humanity along in ways that we rarely acknowledge here at home. It’s a shame, because the world values our contributions more than we know, and we should be sharing our world-moving stories more often. 

Quickly I realized that growing up in Bermuda had given me many advantages, and I changed my mindset to ‘I can compete with the best and the brightest on the biggest world stage.’ I would challenge all young, black Bermudians to dream big – life is too short to be small.”

– Dr. Malcolm V. Brock 

 Consider the story of Malcom V. Brock, MD. Dr Brock was born and raised in Bermuda, now a celebrated Professor of Surgery and Oncology in the Division of Thoracic Surgery and the Division of Cancer Biology at the world-renowned Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. 

It’s absolutely mind-boggling that Dr Brock is not a household name in Bermuda; a national hero who all the citizens admire, and all the students aspire to emulate. He is an immensely inspiring individual, a lifelong scholar who is making the world a better place on a daily basis: Dr Brock deserves our adoration and respect. 

Alas, Bermuda can be constricting at times, which can breed narrow-mindedness and diffidence; especially when we consider our place in the wider world. Even Dr Brock had to break through some mental restraints that come with growing up in such a small place, as he recalls here: 

“As a young, black Bermudian I often fell into a mental trap of wondering how I would fare competing with more cosmopolitan kids; especially with those from the largest cities in the world. Quickly I realized that growing up in Bermuda had given me many advantages, and I changed my mindset to ‘I can compete with the best and the brightest on the biggest world stage.’ I would challenge all young, black Bermudians to dream big – life is too short to be small.” 

Once young Malcolm Brock broke those mental shackles, the world became his oyster. He travelled around the globe to quench his virtually insatiable thirst for knowledge, a thirst that had been developed in local classrooms and nurtured by local educators. 

Dr Brock attributes much of his success to, “A solid educational foundation from outstanding primary and secondary school teachers in Bermuda. This was fundamentally important – in retrospect, the practice of giving students independent research ‘school projects’ and allowing them to unearth hidden facts in the library sparked in me a love of discovery.” 

After this excellent foundation, Dr Brock began his tertiary education at Bermuda College, where he completed a Diploma in Science in 1982 before heading off to the Ivy League for an AB (Bachelor of Arts) degree in Molecular Biology from Princeton University. 

Oxford University was next, where Malcolm started his post-graduate journey as a Rhodes Scholar, earning a Master of Letters degree in East Asian Studies in 1988. 

Dr Brock points to significant support from home as an unyielding comfort to him during those early years: “Steadfast academic, financial, and emotional support from friends, colleagues, family, and mentors was critical in enabling me to weather adversity. It gave me a sense of community and purpose which allowed me to thrive.” 

He credits the Sandys Rotary Club for playing a major role in his development by giving him the opportunity to be a Rotary Exchange Student in Japan, which “started a lifelong love of the Japanese language which has culminated recently in becoming a Professor of Surgery at the Juntendo University School of Medicine in Tokyo where I both teach and do research.” 

Dr Brock also notes that he was, “given the opportunity by the Bermuda Rhodes Scholarship Committee to spend two years at Oxford to write a book on the Japanese Biotechnology Industry, which really solidified my desire to be an academician.” 

Having conquered the Bermuda Public School System, the Ivy League, and the prestigious old pillars of English Education, young Malcolm decided that Medicine was his calling, so Johns Hopkins it was! 

Dr Brock earned his MD from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1991, and he has been a constant presence at the iconic medical institution ever since. 

This was not nearly the end of Dr Brock’s journey; there was further enquiry intertwined within the layers of his learning during those years. “During my surgical training, I was increasingly drawn to research and academic medicine because of the limitations of contemporary medicine and because of the seemingly inadequate answers to even mundane medical questions such as, ‘Why do so many cancers recur so often even after we surgically excise them so completely?’” 

This and similar questions led Dr Brock to publish, or contribute to, dozens of internationally recognized essays in the top medical journals on the planet. This Bermudian, son of the esteemed Mr Mansfield Brock Jr, is a world renowned, respected, and celebrated medical professional, a resident leader at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, an award-winning scholar, and a highly sought-after speaker and instructor. 

This is a man who clearly needs something in Bermuda named after him at some point, due mostly to the fact that he is an outrageously accomplished academic surgeon, but also to the fact that he is a proud Bermudian. 

His links to Bermuda have never been severed in the slightest, and he has used his unqualified success to help Bermudians at every turn. Beginning in 1987, young Malcom would work closely with Dr Lawrence Griffith to facilitate referrals from Bermuda, while also visiting Bermuda on behalf of Johns Hopkins Hospital. 

Currently, Dr Brock serves as Johns Hopkins International Bermuda Strategic Relationship Liaison Physician. This role was started in 2000, and entails facilitating referrals, visiting Bermudian inpatients, working with Johns Hopkins physicians who are taking care of Bermudians, and hosting public affairs events for Johns Hopkins in Bermuda. 

Dr Brock also had a hand in designing and developing the policy and plan for the new hospital in Bermuda when he served on a team charged with those tasks between 2006 and 2008. He is currently working on a policy plan for promoting wellness in Bermuda by creating a longitudinal cohort study for the entire population modelled after the Framingham Longitudinal Study for Heart Disease. 

Considering his place in Bermuda’s history, Dr Brock focusses on how his story lights a path for young Bermudians: “Hopefully, many more chapters are still to be written, but I hope that young Bermudians will want to pursue science and medicine, and then dream far bigger and accomplish much more than I even thought possible.” 

 Dr Brock earned his MD from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1991, and he has been a constant presence at the iconic medical institution ever since. 

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