According to Johns Hopkins Hospital: "Dr. Carson focuses on traumatic brain injuries, brain and spinal cord tumors, achondroplasia, neurological and congenital disorders, craniosynostosis, epilepsy and trigeminal neuralgia. He is also interested in maximizing the intellectual potential of every child."
Carson's hand-eye coordination and three-dimensional reasoning skills made him a gifted surgeon.After medical school, he became a neurosurgery resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Starting off as an adult neurosurgeon, Carson became more interested in pediatrics. He believed that with children, "what you see is what you get, ... when they're in pain they clearly show it with a frown on their face or when they are happy they show it by smiling brightly."
Carson's other surgical innovations have included the first intrauterine procedure to relieve pressure on the brain of a hydrocephalic fetal twin, and a hemispherectomy, in which a young girl suffering from uncontrollable seizures had one-half of her brain removed.
In 1987, Carson made medical history by being the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins (the Binder twins) who had been joined at the back of the head (craniopagus twins). The 70-member surgical team, led by Carson, worked for 22 hours. At the end, the twins were successfully separated and can now survive independently. Carson recalls:
I looked at that situation. I said, 'Why is it that this is such a disaster?' and it was because they would always exsanguinate. They would bleed to death, and I said, 'There's got to be a way around that. These are modern times.' This was back in 1987. I was talking to a friend of mine, who was a cardiothoracic surgeon, who was the chief of the division, and I said, 'You guys operate on the heart in babies, how do you keep them from exsanguinating' and he says, 'Well, we put them in hypothermic arrest.' I said, 'Is there any reason that – if we were doing a set of Siamese twins that were joined at the head – that we couldn't put them into hypothermic arrest, at the appropriate time, when we're likely to lose a lot of blood?' and he said, 'No way.' I said, 'Wow, this is great.' Then I said, 'Why am I putting my time into this? I'm not going to see any Siamese twins.' So I kind of forgot about it, and lo and behold, two months later, along came these doctors from Germany, presenting this case of Siamese twins. And, I was asked for my opinion, and I then began to explain the techniques that should be used, and how we would incorporate hypothermic arrest, and everybody said 'Wow! That sounds like it might work.' And, my colleagues and I, a few of us went over to Germany. We looked at the twins. We actually put in scalp expanders, and five months later we brought them over and did the operation, and lo and behold, it worked.
A video documentary about Carson's life titled Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story was released by Zondervan in 1992. Subsequently in 2009, a separate television movie with the same title premiered on TNT on February 7, 2009, with Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. in the lead role and Kimberly Elise portraying his mother.
The speech was magnified because Carson's views were generally interpreted to be politically conservative, and President Barack Obama was sitting ten feet away. Conservative commentators from Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity and Neil Cavuto of Fox News praised the speech as speaking "truth to power". The Wall Street Journal had an op-ed titled: "Ben Carson for President" which stated that Carson "may not be politically correct, but he's closer to correct than we've heard in years", while columnist Star Parker wrote in a column that "Ben Carson owes no apology for honest talk." Conservative Fox News contributor Cal Thomas, however, opined that Carson's remarks were inappropriate for the event and that he should apologize to President Obama. Liberal Fox News pundit Bob Beckel also found Carson's remarks inappropriate for the event, calling them "extreme right-wing talking points".
In an interview with Neil Cavuto, Carson defended himself by saying "Somebody has to be courageous enough to stand up to the bullies."[ Carson appeared on the Fox News program Hannity on Friday February 8, and was asked about a possible run for the White House. Carson responded: "If the Lord grabbed me by the collar and made me do it, I would."
After the speech, Carson told ABC News: "I don't think it was particularly political... You know, I'm a physician. I like to diagnose things. And, you know, I've diagnosed some pretty, pretty significant issues that I think a lot of people resonate with." Regarding the policies of President Obama, he said: "There are a number of policies that I don't believe lead to the growth of our nation and don't lead to the elevation of our nation. I don't want to sit here and say all of his policies are bad. What I would like to see more often in this nation is an open and intelligent conversation, not people just casting aspersions at each other. I mean, it's unbelievable to me the way people act like third graders. And if somebody doesn't agree with them, they're this and they're that and, you know – it comes from both sides. And it's just so infantile."
Writing in the National Review, Jonah Goldberg compared Carson to legendary African-American leader Booker T. Washington. Meanwhile, in The Atlantic, David Graham compared Carson to Herman Cain without the "personal skeletons".
Carson was a featured speaker at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on March 16, 2013. He announced he would retire as a surgeon in 106 days, stating "I'd much rather quit when I'm at the top of my game. And there's so many more things that can be done." He finished tied for seventh in the Washington Times/CPAC 2013 Straw Poll with 4% of the 3,000 ballots cast.
In March 2013, Carson described his opposition to same-sex marriage on Hannity, saying: "Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition." Carson's comparison of gays to pedophiles and practitioners of bestiality was heavily criticized; a member of the Johns Hopkins University faculty said that Carson's comments made him appear "nasty, petty, and ill-informed", while a group of Hopkins students circulated a petition asking that Carson be replaced as the university's commencement speaker. Carson withdrew as speaker and apologized for the remarks, saying that "the examples were not the best choice of words, and I certainly apologize if I offended anyone", adding that the Bible "says we have an obligation to love our fellow man as ourselves, and I love everybody the same—all homosexuals."
Carson and his wife started the Carson Scholars Fund in 1994. According to the Carson Scholars website, "Carson Scholarships are awarded to students in grades 4–11 who exemplify academic excellence and humanitarian qualities. Winners receive a $1,000 scholarship to be invested toward their college education, along with a recognition package, and an invitation to attend an awards banquet." There are over 5,000 scholars in all fifty states and the District of Columbia.