Spring 2023

Each year the Walter Grand Neurosurgery Forum proudly hosts the brightest minds in the Neurosurgical Field and this year we're excited to feature the following speakers.

Key Note

Gordon Baltuch MD, PhD, FRCS(C)

Professor of Neurosurgery at Columbia University in New York

Dr. Baltuch MD is a Professor of Neurosurgery at Columbia University in New York where he is Co-Chief of the Division of Functional and Restorative Neurosurgery. He attended and graduated from Harvard College and Stanford University. He obtained his medical degree at McGill University and his Neurosurgical training at the Montreal Neurological Institute. He subsequently completed a fellowship at the University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland under the direction of Professor deTribolet.

Professor Baltuch specializes in the surgical management of movement disorders as well as epilepsy surgery. He was one of a few surgeons who pioneered the adoption of deep brain stimulation(DBS) for Parkinson’s Disease as well as other movement disorders and with 1500 DBS cases completed, has one of the largest international series.  He was an early adopter of Focused ultrasound(HiFU) for movement disorders and has one of the busiest HiFU practices in the US. He has numerous peer reviewed publications in prestigious journals with an h index of 53 and over 15000 citations. He has edited 4 textbooks including the recent 2nd edition of Thieme’s “Operative techniques in epilepsy surgery”. He has received numerous grants and awards, and has travelled internationally lecturing on the surgical management of movement disorders and epilepsy.

Dunbar Alcindor, MD

Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery at UF Health; Jacksonville, FL 

Dr. Alcindor is a neurosurgery specialist in Jacksonville, FL who specializes in functional and stereotactic neurosurgery, neurological surgery, and neurological spine reconstructive surgery.

Boyle C. Cheng, PhD

Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Drexel University, Allegheny Health Network, Pittsburgh, PA  

Boyle C. Cheng, PhD, is the Director of Research for the Neuroscience Institute at Allegheny Health Network and a professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Drexel University and Allegheny General Hospital. He maintains an adjunct appointment in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and serves as an advisor to graduate students in the practicum course and teaching the Medical Devices class. His grant-funded research has included topics including NIH funded clinical research trials, the evaluation of anterior cervical disc replacements and novel biomaterials in a sheep model, biomechanical studies of a biased angle posterior cervical system, facet motion preservation technologies as well as dynamic and physical modeling based on specimen specific imaging and kinematic studies.

Justin. Davanzo, MD

Attending Neurosurgeon at Allegheny Health Network
Clinic, Jacksonville, FL

Dr. Davanzo is an attending neurosurgeon at Allegheny Health Network specializing in functional neurosurgery and neurocritical care. He is also an assistant professor of Neurosurgery at the Drexel College of Medicine and the co-director of the Neurologic Intensive Care unit at Allegheny General Hospital. He has clinical interests in traumatic brain and spinal cord injury and the surgical treatment of chronic pain. In addition, his research interests include patient outcomes in the neurocritical care setting and new indications of neuromodulation in the treatment of chronic pain.

W. David Freeman, MD

Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at Mayo
Clinic, Jacksonville, FL

Dr Freeman holds the academic rank of Professor of Neurology, and by courtesy, Neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic, with appointments in the Departments of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Critical Care. He has more than 240 peer-reviewed National Library of Medicine publications, and three textbooks on hospital neurology, neuro critical care, and neurological emergencies. He also leads STR-X (Simulation, Telemedicine, Robotics, and eXperimental education) a cutting-edge fellowship launching in July 2023.

J.A. Grotenhuis, MD

Neurosurgeon at Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, the Netherlands. 

Ricardo Hanel, MD, PhD

Director of the Baptist Neurological Institute
Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, FL

Dr. Hanel is Director of the Baptist Neurological Institute, Co-Director of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Surgery, Endowed Chair of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Surgery and Director for Cerebrovascular Fellowship at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville. He is a neurosurgeon with special training in endovascular, vascular and tumor neurosurgery and has remarkable experience in mechanical thrombectomy for stroke, endovascular and microsurgical treatment of cerebrovascular diseases, as well as extensive background in scientific research, with many academic achievements and one of the most successful clinical practices in the neurosurgical and cerebrovascular fields in the country. 

Babak S. Jahromi, MD, PHD

Vice Chair of Regional Neurological Surgery
Professor of Neurological Surgery
Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine

Dr. Jahromi is a dual-trained neurosurgeon with extensive experience in endovascular and cerebrovascular surgery. He holds fellowships from the Universities of Miami and Buffalo, and a PhD from the University of Chicago. His work has been widely published, with over 200 papers, abstracts and book chapters to date.

Walter Jean, MD

Chief of Neurological Surgery, Lehigh Valley Health Network, PA

Dr. Walter C. Jean is the Chief of Neurological Surgery at Lehigh Valley Health Network and Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. He graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and obtained his medical degree from Cornell University Medical College, where he earned the John Metcalf Polk Prize. Dr. Jean is also the creator of “Skull Base Surgery: Strategies,” a textbook published by Thieme in 2019, aimed at guiding trainees through the complex concepts of skull base approaches. He is the course director of “Surgeons’ Log,” the internationally-acclaimed webinar series of the North American Skull Base Society and has been recognized as an international pioneer in the use of Virtual and Augmented Reality in Neurosurgery. 

Dorian Kusyk, MD

Chief Resident, Department of Neurosurgery, Allegheny Health Network

Dorian Kusyk is the current Chief Resident at the Department of Neurosurgery at Allegheny Health Network with an interest in medical education and mentorship. Dr. Kusyk has a strong interest in functional neurosurgery for movement disorders, epilepsy and psychiatric disease.

Giuseppe Lanzino, MD

Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 

Summa Cum Laude graduate from the University of Bologna Medical School, Dr. Lanzino specializes in the endovascular and surgical treatment of patients with cerebrovascular disorders. He completed his neurosurgical training at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, subspecialized training in neuroendovascular surgery at the State University of Buffalo, New York and cerebrovascular and skull-based surgery fellowship at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. He has authored or coauthored more than 700 peer review publications, and he is the author of two text books. 

Jody Leonardo, MD

Director of Adult Hydrocephalus Center
Assistant Director of Endoscopic Neuroendoscopy
Neurosurgical Residency Program Director
Department of Neurosurgery and Neuroendoscopy
Allegheny Health Network Neuroscience Institute

Dr. Leonardo specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system including hydrocephalus, intraventricular tumors, pituitary and skull base tumors, brain tumors, trauma infections of the brain and spine, stroke and other diseases affecting the spine. She has particular interest in minimally invasive endoscopic brain and skull base surgical techniques as well as the surgical management of adult hydrocephalus. She's also the author of numerous articles in peer-reviewed medical journals, and serves as an avid medical student and resident educator.

Daniel Meyers, MD

PGY-7 resident, Allegheny General Hospital, PA

Daniel Myers, MD, is currently a PGY-7 resident and enfolded spine fellow at Allegheny General Hospital. Upon his graduation next year, he will be staying on at Allegheny Health Network as an attending. His clinical interests are spinal deformity correction and minimally invasive spine surgery. His academic interests include various methods of improvements in surgical techniques, from enhancing wound healing, to improving postoperative pain and overall lessening the burden of spine surgery in patients.

Lara Massie, MD

Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, Allegheny Health Network, Pittsburgh, PA  

Lara Massie is an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Allegheny Health Network, Forbes Hospital. She completed neurosurgical training at Henry Ford Hospital and complex spinal deformity fellowship at Duke University. She oversees AHN's Women's Back Pain Multidisciplinary Working Group. Her practice spans minimally invasive thru complex spinal deformity cases, with a clinical research focus on improving patient outcomes. 

Stephen Pirris, MD

Neurosurgeon at St. Vincent’s Spine and Brain Institute,  Jacksonville, FL

Dr. Pirris is a neurosurgeon in Jacksonville, Florida, affiliated with St. Vincent's Medical Center Southside. His specialties include glioblastoma, brain tumors, aneurysms, laminectomy,  craniotomy. He also serves on the Executive Committee with the Southern Neurosurgery Society as the current President-elect, the Board of Directors with the Florida Neurosurgery Society as a former President, the Robotics and Navigation committee with the North American Spine Society and the Board of Directors for the Neurosurgery Outreach Foundation that provides outreach missions as well as education and mentoring for underserved areas of Southeast Asia. Dr. Pirris is the recipient of many honors and awards including the North American Spine Society Clinical Travelling Fellowship and has repeatedly been named as a Top Doctor by various outlets, including Vitals Patient Choice, Top Doctors of America, Best in Florida and Jacksonville Magazine. He is also an accomplished author with over 90 academic presentations and 38 peer reviewed publications.

Robert Plunkett, MD

Surgical Director, Comprehensive Movement Disorders Center and Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at SUNY  Buffalo School of Medicine & Biomedical

Dr. Plunkett M.D., developed stereotaxic surgery at Buffalo General Medical and co-founded the Comprehensive Movement Disorder Center. His expertise includes Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s and tremor and implantation of pumps to deliver Intrathecal Baclofen to treat spasticity. He's also on the Neurosurgical Staff at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, performs Gamma Knife Radiosurgery to treat brain tumors, trigeminal neuralgia and tremor and has a laboratory that studies novel approaches to treat brain tumors, radioprotection agents, and growth factors to promote nerve cell regeneration.

Eric Sauvageau, MD

Director of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Surgery and Co-Director of Baptist Neurological Institute, Jacksonville FL 

Dr. Sauvageau is Director of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Surgery and Co-Director of Baptist Neurological Institute. He is a neurosurgeon experienced in endovascular, vascular, and tumor neurosurgery and has extensive experience with treating stroke and cerebrovascular disease
patients. He is heavily involved with research for the advancement of the neurosurgical field and practices at one of the most prominent neurosurgical and cerebrovascular clinics in the country.

Gabriel Flores-Milan, MD (PGY-7)

Neurosurgery Resident at USF Health

Dr. Flores Milan graduated from the Ponce School of Medicine in 2015. He works in Tampa, FL and specializes in Neurological Surgery.

Daniel A. Shade, Jr., MD, FCCP, FAASM

Medical Director of Sleep Medicine and Associate Professor of Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine, Division of
Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, at Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA

Dr. Daniel Shade is board certified in Sleep Medicine as well as Pulmonary/Critical Care and Internal Medicine. He received his training at Temple University, in Philadelphia, is currently practicing in Pittsburgh and has been with Allegheny Health Network, since 1998. Dr. Shade has been named one of Pittsburgh’s Best Doctors for over 10 years in a row both in Sleep and Critical Care Medicine. His primary focus is Sleep Medicine. He's an expert on all topics related to Sleep Medicine and is routinely featured on local media including TV and radio. He is actively involved in Sleep research and in the ongoing training of pulmonary and critical care fellows.

Kunal Vakharia, MD

Assistant Professor, Neurosurgery at USF, Tampa   

Dr. Vakharia is Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at USF, Tampa. His clinical interests include open and endovascular neurosurgery as well as minimally invasive spine surgery. He completed medical school at Jefferson in Philadelphia, residency at the University at Buffalo and fellowship training at the Mayo Clinic. He focuses his clinical and research practices on cerebrovascular, Endovascular, and skull base pathologies.  

Alexander Yu, MD

Director of Minimally Invasive Spine Neurosurgery, Skull Base and Cerebrovascular Surgery, AHN Neurosurgery, Pittsburg, PA

Dr. Yu is Vice Chair for AHN Neurosurgery, Director of Minimally Invasive Spine Neurosurgery and is the Director of Skull Base and Cerebrovascular Surgery. Dr. Yu specializes in diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the spine and brain as well as surgical care of the central and peripheral nervous systems.

We're in the process of adding new speakers to the list every day so please check back to see an update on who will be presenting.