Dr. Molly Hubbard was born in Burlington, VT, in 1986. She grew up in Utah developing a great love for the outdoors and, in particular, for skiing. She graduated from Utah State University in 2008 and attended the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont where her love of nature, biochemistry and medicine evolved into a calling for neurosurgery.
She was well liked by her classmates at Vermont and invented the “Moliday,” an outdoor adventure to provide relief from studies. Molly was active in She Jumps, an organization that increases the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities to foster confidence, leadership, and connection to nature and community through free and low-cost outdoor education. She was planning a summit of Mt. Rainier in Washington this summer to help raise money for this group.
Molly trained in neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota from 2012 to 2019. She was a force of nature, “technically gifted and adorned with judgment beyond her years, she was masterful in her surgery and prudent in her deliberations,” noted Department Head Clark C. Chen, MD, PhD, in an announcement about her death.
During residency, in addition to the fact that her colleagues recognized her excellence as a physician and surgeons, Molly authored more than 15 peer-reviewed publications, presented more than 20 abstracts at local, national and international meetings, delivered more than 10 oral presentations locally and nationally and was awarded more than $130,000 in grant funding for research as a principal investigator.
A poster summarizing research Molly was doing about hypothermia in kids during surgery won the top prize during the 2017 AANS/CNS Section on Pediatric Neurological Surgery meeting in Houston, TX.
In recognition of her outstanding achievement as a neurosurgery resident, she received the department’s highest resident honor, the Zhao Zi-Zhen Award. Established by Dr. Shelley Chou, this award is occasionally given to residents who stand out by exemplifying the qualities of inquisitiveness, perseverance, honesty, frugality and compassion that characterized his mother, Zhao Zi-Zhen. (Molly is pictured with fellow residents Bryan Ladd, MD, on her right, and Akshay Gupte, MD; and David Freeman, MD, PhD, standing behind her.)
Molly chose pediatric neurosurgery for her future. She was in the pediatric fellowship at Oregon Health Sciences University when, on a “Moliday,” she died tragically in an avalanche at the Silver Mountain Ski Resort in Idaho. Molly had been offered a faculty position at OHSU. Her future was bright, and the world has lost a shining star.
During her short life, Molly worked and played hard, inspired, led, entertained, loved, helped others, saved lives and showed everyone who met her what a person, physician and neurosurgeon should be.
Online responses to the news about Molly:
Dr. Nathan Selden, chair, OHSU Department of Neurosurgery
Molly Hubbard was a superlative physician and surgeon with exceptional judgment, technical skills and deep compassion for her patients and colleagues. She was also an extraordinary human being who was loved and valued by all who knew her. Molly’s loss is unfathomable to her friends, her family, our community at OHSU, and to myself as her mentor. We will do our best to honor her extraordinary character.
A patient’s grandmother
This is such a loss to the world. We met Dr. Hubbard 14 months ago when my granddaughter was brought to Hennepin County Medical Center after being hit by a car. She was so good at explaining what was happening and what we could expect. During the hospital stay, she was so supportive. She balanced hope and an honest prognosis with care. Thank you, Dr. Hubbard, for all you did. Today my granddaughter is continuing her recovery. A recovery you would be proud of.
Molly touched so many people and changed the world. It's beyond understandable to lose her, her passion, and her expertise so very young. Thank you, Molly, for your gift to the world and to all of us who had the GREAT HONOR of working with you and learning from you. Every nurse in the ICU LOVED you. Your bedside manner was incredible, and you were so, so smart. I hope everyone can know the impact that you have had and the many, many nurses, staff and people who have loved working with you. You will be forever remembered with so much love, respect, and admiration.
Dr. Hubbard performed my shunt study in 2014 under the supervision of Dr. [Stephen] Haines. I can vividly recall her kindness and professionalism throughout my two shunt revisions at the U. She touched so many lives in her short time as a neurosurgeon, mine being one of them.
A fellow researcher
I was fortunate to be involved in several research projects with Molly over the past few years. What a delightful and sharp, yet personable individual. Very heartbreaking that she is not continuing her incredible life.
A fellow leader
I knew Molly through the year-long Resident Leadership Academy at the U, which was an opportunity for residents in various specialties to learn from some of the state’s most engaging leaders (both within and outside medicine). From this experience, I could quickly see she was a leader in her field because of the stimulating conversations and patient-centered approach she shared.