Chair's Message

Welcome to the Yale Department of Neurosurgery!

Since October 2014, it has been my honor and privilege to serve as the Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery and Chief of Neurosurgery for the Yale New Haven Health System. I take personal pride and satisfaction in being surrounded by exceptionally talented individuals who have a common goal of providing the highest standard of care and support to our patients and their families with the most cutting edge surgical expertise, in state-of-the-art facilities.

My focus in these early stages has been on expanding the clinical growth of our Department and fostering important relationships with community physicians providing care throughout the state, while maintaining excellence and building translational research programs to discover new ways to treat neurosurgical diseases in collaboration with some of the best scientific minds in the world here at Yale. We have been off to a good start, but of course with more room to grow.

The number of neurosurgeons in the Yale Department of Neurosurgery has doubled in the last two years. It has been my personal belief and mission that we provide care for all patients, with all types of neurosurgical conditions.

These include all types of primary (i.e. gliomas, glioblastomas, meningiomas) and metastatic brain as well as spine and spinal cord tumors, pituitary tumors (adenomas), spinal disorders (i.e. herniated discs, stenosis, scoliosis), peripheral nerve syndromes (i.e. carpal tunnel), neurovascular disease (i.e. aneurysms, AVMs, ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, carotid artery stenosis), pediatric and congenital disorders (i.e. hydrocephalus, craniosynostosis, spina bifida, congenital spine deformities), movement disorders (i.e. deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease, tremors), pain disorders (i.e. trigeminal neuralgia) and spasticity (i.e. Multiple Sclerosis), cerebrospinal fluid disorders (i.e. normal pressure hydrocephalus) and epilepsy. We gladly accept new patients or those who have undergone extensive treatment elsewhere, accepting referrals from community physicians and readily offering second opinions. We offer Y Access (LINK), a direct line of communication, allowing community physicians to call one number, 24/7, 365 days of the year, for the rapid transfer of inpatients who would benefit from our neurosurgical expertise.

One of our Department’s strengths is that our neurosurgeons are highly sub-specialized within specific areas of neurosurgery, allowing each to focus his/her expertise within a very specific area of neurosurgery resulting in excellent patient outcomes. We provide coverage at 10 hospitals in the state of Connecticut and beyond, allowing patients to be treated closer to home, but transferred to our main New Haven campuses when in need of more complex neurosurgical management.

The infrastructure and support staff at Yale New Haven Hospital- York and St. Raphael’s campuses, as well as Smilow Cancer Hospital, are truly unsurpassed and our footprint beyond New Haven has been better established.

We remain the only hospital in New England to house a hybrid, state-of-the-art operating suites, with both intraoperative 3-Tesla MRI and intraoperative biplane angiography capabilities in the same location, allowing for better patient outcomes from more complete and safe surgical treatment of brain tumors and vascular disease (i.e. aneurysms). Specially trained neuroanesthesiologists provide anesthesia, specific for patients undergoing neurological surgery,. Moreover, patients benefit from the outstanding care provided in our Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit (NICU), step down units and floors with a dedicated intensivist team in the NICU and highly-trained nurses with expertise in caring for patients with neurological conditions. On the outpatient side, our comprehensive Spine Center is just one example of our mission to provide patient-focused care using a multidisciplinary team approach. Patients with spinal disease, for instance, can achieve successful outcomes with not only surgery, but as the result of rehabilitation and pain management as part of a complete treatment strategy developed for each individual patient and provided for at one location. Finally, Yale offers the largest and most well-established Radiosurgery (i.e. Gamma Knife) Program, providing an effective, non-surgical treatment alternative for appropriate patients with a wide range of neurological conditions. These are just a few highlights of what Yale has to offer clinically. Above all else, no matter what the reason for hospitalization, patients and their families receive thorough, empathetic and supportive care from the moment they arrive at Yale throughout their treatment and even after.

We continue to be one of the best National Institute of Health (NIH) funded Neurosurgery departments in the country, consistently ranked among the top 3, with research efforts spanning a wide spectrum of neurological diseases, with particular expertise in the molecular genomics of brain tumors and aneurysms.

As such, Yale has become one of the few places to be in the position to offer “Precision Medicine,” or a more personalized treatment approach, which more specifically targets diseases on an individual basis. All patients at Yale receive the most up-to-date, standard protocols of care at the time of diagnosis, but translating what we find in the laboratory to the bedside and access to precision medicine and clinical trials can provide important opportunities for certain patients in later treatment stages, not offered at other institutions. Our research program is the 3rd best funded Neurosurgery department in the country, with over 4 million dollar NIH research support with 3 of our researchers being among the top 21 best funded Neurosurgery Principal Investigators http://www.brimr.org/NIH_Awards/2014/NIH_Awards_2014.htm.

Given our clinical and research strengths, we remain committed to educating and training the next generation of neurosurgeons. Given this importance, I assumed Directorship of the Yale Neurosurgery Residency Program, shortly after assuming leadership of the Department.

We select the best and the brightest residents and hope to train the future leaders in Neurosurgery, who will push the field forward through invention of new neurosurgical techniques as well as cutting edge translational research. We have matched our top residency applicants in the last two years. We are fortunate at Yale to have the interest of some of the most outstanding individuals to educate, both as students and resident physicians and I, along with the rest of the faculty, take personal responsibility and pride in their education. We lead by example and our distinguished group of neurosurgeons serve as exceptional role models and teachers.

In conclusion, the Yale Department of Neurosurgery continues to strive for excellence in the three pillars of academic neurosurgery: patient care, the pursuit of science and education. We hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards in all realms and accept nothing less than outstanding in everything we do, especially patient care. 

For any questions, concerns or request for a consultation, please do not hesitate to contact us: 

For patient related information, please call 203-785-2805  
For educational information, please call 203-785-3275  
Or email neurosurgery@yale.edu 


Sincerely, Murat Gunel, MD 
Nixdorff-German Professor of Neurosurgery and Professor of Genetics and of Neuroscience 
Chair, Department of Neurosurgery 
Chief, Neurosurgery, Yale New Haven Health System 
Chair, Perioperative Executive Leadership Committee 
Director, Residency Program Member, National Academy of Medicine