Department of Neurological Surgery
Our department has experienced tremendous growth over the past five decades, and today I am proud to share new updates on our continued upward trajectory.
In a first for California, our team was awarded the Gold Seal of Approval for Advanced Certification in Spine Surgery by The Joint Commission, reflecting our ability to hit the mark for every spine patient, every time.
Additionally, Drs. Marc Schwartz and Rick Friedman, who co-lead the largest volume acoustic neuroma practice in the nation, published findings in JAMA Otolaryngology demonstrating that where patients receive acoustic neuroma care matters—and holds important takeaways for patients, referring providers and payors.
We also look forward to attending the AANS Annual Scientific Meeting, where it is always wonderful to reconnect with colleagues and present our latest research.
This year we are delighted to join Women in Neurosurgery (WINS) at their evening celebration at AANS, where trailblazers Drs. Shelly Timmons and Karin Muraszko—both of whom we were proud to host at our Grand Rounds—will be honored for their dedication to the advancement of women.
Thank you all, as always, for your dedication to the advancement of neurological surgery. I am confident our collective success will expand the treatment of neurologic disease and define tomorrow's cures.
Alexander A. Khalessi, MD, MBA
Chair, Department of Neurological Surgery
Professor of Neurological Surgery, Radiology and Neurosciences
Don and Karen Cohn Chancellor's Endowed Chair in Neurosurgery
AANS Annual Scientific Meeting
Connect with us at the AANS annual meeting
Our faculty and residents look forward to sharing their latest research, networking with colleagues and meeting with medical students interested in our specialty at the AANS Annual Scientific Meeting.
Celebrating Women in Neurosurgery (WINS)
Join us in honoring the history and achievements of WINS at their celebration dinner on Saturday, April 22. Trailblazers Drs. Karin Muraszko and Shelly Timmons will be honored for their lifetime achievements.
Former AANS president Dr. Shelly Timmons speaks at Grand Rounds
We were delighted to host Dr. Shelly Timmons, the first female president of AANS and a world-renowned neurosurgeon, as a speaker at our recent Grand Rounds. Dr. Timmons discussed best practices for traumatic brain injury (TBI) treatment, including the current landscape and future directions for the field. Her recommendations include treating TBI as a chronic illness; developing national registries that track outcomes and guide care; and investing in TBI research, particularly epidemiology and prognostic tools.
First in California to receive advanced spine surgery certification
The Joint Commission awarded UC San Diego Health the Gold Seal of Approval for Advanced Certification in Spine Surgery, making it the first health organization in California to receive the advanced certification. The Gold Seal reflects a health care organization’s demonstrated ability to implement result-driven processes and advance patient outcomes.
Higher case volumes improve acoustic neuroma patient outcomes
Drs. Marc Schwartz and Rick Friedman, who co-lead the largest volume acoustic neuroma practice in the nation, authored a JAMA Otolaryngology study linking higher case volumes to reduced hospital stays and 30-day readmissions for acoustic neuroma surgeries—with 25 cases per year representing a potential key threshold.
Traumatic brain injuries surge following U.S.-Mexico border wall height extension
TBIs were more frequent, severe and costly following the 2019 height increase of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in San Diego according to a new Journal of Neurosurgery study by Drs. Joseph Ciacci and Alexander Tenorio (PGY-3).
UC San Diego awarded NIH grant to study underlying cause of chronic pain
Dr. Sharona Ben-Haim was awarded an NIH K08 grant to map pain networks in the human brain, with the goal of uncovering improved, non-opioid treatments for chronic pain—which affects nearly 20% of adults in the U.S.
Sister Department of Neurosciences once again #1 NIH-funded program in the nation, receiving record $49 million
For 16 of the past 17 years our sister Department of Neurosciences at UC San Diego has topped the list of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding awarded to neuroscience programs across the U.S., this year receiving more than $49 million from the agency—the highest amount ever secured by the department.
A warm welcome to our newest residents
We’re delighted to welcome Drs. Nicholas Solorio Hernandez (Tufts University School of Medicine, left) and Jubran Hanna Jubran (University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix, right) as the newest members of our UC San Diego Neurosurgical family!
Two-time national champions at CNS
Drs. Lauren Stone (PGY-4), Brian Hirshman (PGY-6) and faculty mentor Dr. David Santiago-Dieppa were the first back-to-back winners in the history of the CNS Resident SANS Challenge and doubled their record-breaking score from the 2021 competition.
Mastering cranial surgery techniques
Our residents spent the day at our Center for the Future of Surgery (CFS), one of the largest surgical training facilities in the world, learning specialized cranial surgery techniques under the guidance of our faculty members.
Celebrating Resident Appreciation Day
Our talented and hard-working residents were treated to a lunch at the delicious Joya Kitchen to celebrate their contributions to our department's clinical and research missions. Today and everyday we are so grateful for all that you do!
Meet Dr. Min Park, class of 2009
Min Park, MD, is a professor of Neurosurgery, Neurology and Radiology, director of cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurgery and residency program director at the University of Virginia Health System.
Following his residency at UC San Diego, Dr. Park served as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy stationed at Naval Medical Center San Diego. In 2010 he deployed to Afghanistan, where he performed more than 150 life-saving operations during his six month deployment. For his heroic work he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, Navy Unit Commendation, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and NATO Medal, among others.
Dr. Park has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters and was the lead editor of three medical textbooks (Flow Diversion of Cerebral Aneurysms, Neurointerventional Surgery: An Evidence-Based Approach, and Carotid Artery Disease: Evaluation and Management).
Cerebrovascular leaders gather at Sun Valley Cerebrovascular Conference
The three-day event combined thought-provoking talks and abstract presentations with family-friendly activities in a stunning location. We hope you can join us at next year's conference, held February 1–3.
Kids become "neurosurgeons for the day" at Family Day at the CFS
Featuring pumpkin surgeries, candy grasping challenges and more, our first-ever family day at the CFS was an adorable, fun-filled event that allowed family, friends and loved ones to peek into the world we love.
Helping Salk Institute scientists study neurological conditions
We're delighted to welcome staff research associates Ann Shelton (left) and Rachel Elevado (right) to the lab of Drs. Najla Kfoury-Beaumont (center) and Thomas Beaumont, where they will accelerate our ongoing collaboration with destination laboratories, including the Salk Institute. By collecting and processing brain tissue samples, including healthy and tumor tissues, the team will grow our Brain Tissue Bank—with the goal of advancing our understanding of the nervous system and developing new therapies for neurological disorders.
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)
Inspiring future neurosurgeons through educational programs
More than 100 elementary and middle school students at the Ocean Discovery Institute—which creates learning experiences for young people traditionally excluded from science—joined virtual Q&As with Drs. Alexander Khalessi and Sharona Ben-Haim centered on their career journeys and passion for neurosurgery.
Raising awareness of the dangers of the border wall height increase
Dr. Alexander Tenorio (PGY-3) joined a panel discussing the imminent expansion of the 30-foot U.S.-Mexico border wall through San Diego's historic Friendship Park to discuss his research, conducted with Dr. Joseph Ciacci, that shows spinal injuries and TBIs surged following the height extension.
NPR visits UC San Diego to learn about new surgical treatments for epilepsy
Drs. Alexander Khalessi and Sharona Ben-Haim explain how new technologies are helping epilepsy patients live seizure-free lives—and may help us understand ‘the music of the brain.’
Becker's Hospital Review: UC San Diego a "neurosurgery program to watch"
The publication's list features hospitals that have received national recognition as a top spine and neurosurgery program and are advancing cutting-edge surgical techniques and research.
UC San Diego Center for Health Innovation expands with $22 million in gifts
Generous gifts from Joan and Irwin Jacobs have funded a novel patient-care “mission control center” within Jacobs Medical Center. The hyper-connected hub aims to develop AI algorithms and models that improve personalized treatment, health equity and the patient experience.
Help save more lives by supporting neurological surgery
Our team performs world-class surgical procedures, conducts innovative research and educates the next generation of neurosurgical leaders. With your support we can accelerate our efforts to save lives and reverse disability through neurosurgical innovation, expand our educational programs and more.
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