Captain David Brown Aerospace and Medical Research Endowment


The Captain David Brown Aerospace and Medical Research Endowment was established to honor the memory of David M. Brown, one of the seven astronauts who died in the space shuttle Columbia accident on February 1, 2003. 

David Brown was a true renaissance man – gymnast, circus performer, pilot, medical doctor, Navy flight surgeon, Nave jet pilot, astronaut and videographer.  He graduated from Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1982.  All of Dave’s friend agree that he was the most modest overachiever they had ever met. 

The scholarship was established through a permanent endowment by family and friends to provide financial assistance to medical students at EVMS.  The recipients demonstrate academic excellence and a spirit of exploration and service. The hope is that David Brown’s life and achievements will be an inspiration to all future EVMS students. 

David McDowell Brown was born April 16, 1956 to Dorothy and Paul Brown of Arlington, Virginia.  Educated in Virginia from elementary school through medical school, Dave became interested in science, football and gymnastics in high school.  He continued as a gymnast while majoring in biology at the College of William and Mary.  He even worked a summer with Circus Kingdom as an acrobat, unicyclist and stilt walker.

Those summer and part-time jobs paid for Dave’s flying lessons. Dave soloed for the first time on July 8, 1978. Flying was such a passion of his that later while in the Navy he eventually owned a home located on a small airport.  Dave joked, “I bought a hangar, and a house came with it.”  He needed that hangar for his own two light aircraft.

Dave graduated from EVMS in 1982 with a class full of friends, especially Gordon Iiams, his roommate and life-long friend.  Dave had planned to become a family practice doctor but wanted to do something more exciting first.  After completing his internship, Dave joined the Navy, serving on two aircraft carriers as a flight surgeon.  His skills as a videographer came to the forefront when he created a training film for flight surgeons on preparations for cold-weather flight operations and earned him recognition as Navy Flight Surgeon of the Year.

Originally assigned to the STS-107 mission on July 25, 2000, it would be nearly three years before David and his fellow crewmates would leave Earth’s atmosphere onboard the Columbia space shuttle on January 16, 2003.  Dave was responsible for many experiments which were completed and participated in others. 

As David’s family and friends shared,

David trained for two years for the STS-107 space mission.  During Columbia’s two weeks in space David and his crewmates oversaw 85 experiments, some of which amazingly survived the accident.  We got to watch David float in space, work on his experiments and tell us about his wonderful experiences.  David always knew that there were risks and accepted them.  It was an incredible mission, only marred by a final bad act.

After an extremely productive 16 days in space, Dave and his crewmates prepared to the space shuttle Columbia for its journey home.  Tragically on February 1, 2003, a damaged wing resulted in the Columbia breaking apart on reentry into Earth’s atmosphere over Texas. 

The day before Columbia’s reentry, David shared much of his feelings about the trip with friends and family.  He closed by writing, “if I’d been born in space I know I would desire to visit the beautiful Earth more than I’ve ever yearned to visit to space.  It’s a wonderful planet.”


Visit the Captain David Brown collection on display in the Brickell Atrium at EVMS.


The recipient of the Captain David Brown Aerospace and Medical Research Endowment will be:

  • A first year medical student enrolled at EVMS who has an interest in aerospace medicine or explorative medical research. 
  • Recipients of this scholarship will continue to be awarded the fund in the subsequent three years, as long as he or she maintains good academic standing and enrollment at EVMS.
  • Along with the EVMS Financial Aid & Scholarship Application, please complete the Capt. David Brown Aerospace and Medical Research Endowment application form and required narrative.