Philanthropic heroes

Couple's generosity moves research forward in multiple specialties

C. Michael Crowder, MD, PhD
Robert Boston

C. Michael Crowder, MD, PhD, the Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professor in Anesthesiology

C. Michael Crowder, MD, PhD, hopes that his research — investigating the damage low oxygen can cause in cells during heart attacks and strokes — will one day lead to better treatments for these devastating conditions.

Crowder is the Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professor in Anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine. When Don Brown, son of Seymour and Rose Brown, talks about Crowder’s research, the enthusiasm in his voice is evident.

“Michael Crowder is a fabulous doctor, and it’s very rewarding to see what this gift is accomplishing,” he says. “My parents would be extremely pleased and gratified with the potential benefits to public health and the public good.”

For Crowder, the generosity of the Brown family has enabled him to conduct research that would not have been possible with current funding.

“In today’s environment, high risk/high reward research is difficult to start and even more difficult to maintain,” says Crowder. “The support of the Brown family has allowed me and my lab to take risks that we hope will result in completely novel research tools and discoveries that could lead to therapies for stroke and other hypoxic injury diseases.”

Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown have a long history of philanthropy at Washington University School of Medicine.

The Brown family has a long history of philanthropy at the School of Medicine. The Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professorship in Anesthesiology was established in memory of Seymour Brown, who died in 2006, and in honor of Alex S. Evers, MD, the Henry E. Mallinckrodt Professor and head of the Department of Anesthesiology. The family has established a second endowed professorship in the department, and the recipient will be named in two years.

“Seymour and Rose Brown have been generous supporters of anesthesiology research and the school’s Department of Anesthesiology,” Evers says. “Their donation of two endowed professorships has allowed us to honor and support our most talented anesthesiology physician-scientists and ensure that these talented individuals remain at Washington University.”

Rose Tropp, UC 36, and Seymour Brown, LA 40, MD 40, met at a party in the mid-1930s when she was an undergraduate at Washington University and he was a medical student. Although Rose was dating another medical student at the time, Seymour caught her attention. They both respected hard work and had grown up in St. Louis in families of limited means. Seymour’s mother ran a grocery store, and Rose’s father owned a haberdashery. Seymour put himself through medical school working as a janitor.

Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown

Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown have a long history of philanthropy at Washington University School of Medicine.

The couple married in 1941; both were 30 years old. Soon after, Seymour was called up to the join the U.S. Navy as a physician on a destroyer. He lived through many battles in the Pacific Ocean Theater during World War II — Battle of Midway, Battle of the Coral Sea, Battle of Guadalcanal and Doolittle’s Raid, for which he received several Naval decorations and commendations — and then worked at Naval Center hospitals in Boston and San Francisco.

In 1946, the couple returned to St. Louis to be near their families. Seymour became one of the first anesthesiologists in the Midwest and a pioneer of that specialty.

In more than 40 years as the chief of anesthesiology at St. John’s Mercy Hospital, Seymour Brown pioneered the establishment of regular pre- and post-anesthesia patient rounds for evaluation, post-anesthetic recovery areas, general intensive-care areas and one-day therapeutic and diagnostic procedure units. Brown also served on the clinical teaching faculty of Saint Louis University School of Medicine for more than three decades.

He was president of the Missouri State Society of Anesthesiology, as well as the president and an original founding member of the St. Louis Society of Anesthesiology, and the author of dozens of medical journal articles concerning his specialty. An annual lectureship in anesthesiology was established in his honor at Mercy Hospital in 1984.

Rose Brown, now 97, graduated from Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in education and biology, and later edited medical books and journals at the C.V. Mosby Co. Additionally, she taught deaf children for many years. She has been, and remains, a constant source of strength and inspiration to her family.

Seymour and Rose Brown funded the Seymour Brown, MD, and Rose Tropp Brown Endowment for Research in the Division of Gastroenterology, in memory of their son Alvin R. Brown, MD, who completed his residency in gastroenterology at the School of Medicine and passed away in 2000. Over the years, the Brown family has made other endowments and contributed to medical student scholarships.

“The Brown family gift helps to facilitate key advances by supporting technology and resources for training future generations of academic gastroenterologists,” says Nicholas O. Davidson, MD, head of the Division of Gastroenterology.

Don Brown appreciates that these gifts honor his parents, but most importantly, he hopes they will advance the frontiers of medicine, research and education at Washington University. “These endeavors are important to my family, and we will continue to support them,” says Brown.

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