Dr. Ben Carson overcame a difficult past to become head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, and then an outspoken political figure and a Republican presidential candidate in 2016. He was chosen to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development by president-elect Donald Trump late in 2016. Ben Carson came from a poor and broken home in Michigan, but still managed to work his way into Yale University in 1969. He graduated with a degree in psychology in 1973, then graduated from medical school at the University of Michigan in 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, which gives scholarships to young students. He 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 began making political news in 2013 after speaking out strongly against new federal health care laws — known widely as Obamacare — at the National Prayer Breakfast, with President Barack Obama
in the audience. He also spoke out against gay marriage and said white liberals "are the most racist people there are." His comments raised his profile and he became a prominent TV political commentator. On 4 May 2015, he announced that he would run for the GOP nomination for president in 2016. He ended his campaign in March of 2016, saying he would become the national chairman of My Faith Votes, a group working to boost voter participation by Christians in American elections. 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."