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Dennis Spencer, MD

Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist of Neurosurgery; Director Epilepsy Research, Neurosurgery

Contact Information

Dennis Spencer, MD

Patient Care Location

Mailing Address

  • Neurosurgery

    PO Box 208082

    New Haven, CT 06520-8082

    United States



Dr. Spencer is the Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor and former Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Yale University School of Medicine. He is a graduate of Washington University School of Medicine and completed his neurosurgical residency at Yale in 1977. He joined the Yale neurosurgery faculty following his residency, and became Chief of neurosurgery in 1987. He has an international reputation in the surgical treatment of neurological diseases causing epilepsy and developed a widely used neocortical sparing surgical approach for patients with temporal lobe epilepsy.

The primary focus of Dr. Spencer's clinical work is surgery for medically intractable epilepsy, seizure disorders associated with brain tumors, and pituitary tumors. Besides chairing the Department of Neurosurgery, he directs the Epilepsy Surgery and Pituitary Tumor Programs.

His research has brought together basic scientists and clinicians around a program concerning energetics, glutamate metabolism and the neurobiological study of human epileptogenic tissue. Study techniques include 4T MRS, C13 intraoperative glucose turnover studies, and in vivo and in vitro electrophysiology and microdialysis, immunohistochemistry, confocal and EM microscopy, and molecular biology. In particular, laboratory discoveries are correlated with the epileptogenic substrate in order to help define human epilepsy pathogenesis and potential therapies.

Dr. Spencer was the 1999 recipient of the American Epilepsy Society's Research Award in Clinical Investigation, and the 2006 Society of Neurological Surgeons' Grass Award for Excellence in Research. He is past Chairman of the American Board of Neurological Surgery, Vice Chairman of the Neurosurgery Residency Review Committee, President of both the American Epilepsy Society (2008) and the Society of Neurological Surgeons (2007-2008), and he served as interim Dean of the Yale School of Medicine 2003-2004.

Education & Training

  • Chief Resident
    Yale-New Haven Medical Center (1976)
  • Fellow
    Yale University School of Medicine (1975)
  • Resident
    Yale-New Haven Hospital (1975)
  • Intern
    Barnes Hospital, St. Louis, MO (1972)
  • MD
    Washington University (1971)


  • Board Certification
    AB of Neurological Surgery, Neurological Surgery (1980)

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
Grass Foundation AwardSociety of Neurological Surgeons2006
Invited speaker at Council of Deans2004
Clinical Investigator AwardAmerican Epilepsy Society Milken Family Foundation1999

Departments & Organizations