Dr. Ben Carson was a pediatric neurosurgeon who became famous as an outspoken political figure and Republican presidential candidate in 2016. Carson then became head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under President Donald Trump
in 2017 and served in that post until Trump lost re-election in 2020. Ben Carson overcame tough childhood circumstances and graduated from Yale University in (1973), then from the medical school at the University of Michigan (1977). He studied neurosurgery and at the young age of 33 became the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. He was perhaps best known for his pioneering work in radical hemispherectomies — the removal of half the brain to help seizure patients — and as a specialist in the separation of conjoined (Siamese) twins. Carson also became a popular speaker who told his own story to encourage young people to make the most of their abilities. He wrote the memoir Gifted Hands
(1990) and the inspirational books Think Big
(1992) and The Big Picture
(1999). With his wife he founded the Carson Scholars Fund and was named to the President's Council on Bioethics in 2004 by George W. Bush
; Bush awarded Carson the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008. Dr. Carson grabbed the spotlight in 2013 at the National Prayer Breakfast and spoke against federal involvement in health care (that is, Obamacare), with President Barack Obama
in the audience. Carson has also spoken out against gay marriage and once said that white liberals "are the most racist people there are." His comments raised his profile and he became a prominent TV political commentator. On May 4, 2015, Carson announced that he would run for the GOP nomination in the 2016 election. He ended his campaign in March of 2016. After Donald Trump won the presidency in November of 2016, he named Carson to head up HUD, saying "Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities." Carson's time at HUD was largely unremarkable and he did little to slow a growing crisis in affordable housing. Carson's most newsworthy event as a cabinet member was when he planned to spend $31,000 on office furniture (but didn't, in the end). After leaving office, Carson and his wife started a think tank, the American Cornerstone Institute, to collect donations and "heal our nation."