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Nixdorff-German Professor is neurosurgeon and geneticist

Medicine@Yale, 2009 - Nov Dec


Murat Günel, M.D., recently named the Nixdorff-German Professor of Neurosurgery, combines a neurosurgical practice with research in the genetics of neurovascular disease. His main clinical interest is the treatment of intracranial aneurysms (ICAs), weaknesses in the brain’s blood vessels that can balloon, putting pressure on brain tissue, or rupture, causing hemorrhagic stroke. He is chief of the Section of Neurovascular Surgery at Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH).

Günel, also professor of neurobiology and of genetics, is co-director of the Yale Program on Neurogenetics. In his research, he has explored the genetic risk factors for neurovascular disease, including ICAs and cerebral cavernous malformations, a less serious vascular irregularity in the brain.

In a paper in Nature Genetics in December 2008, Günel and colleagues reported variations in three genetic regions associated with a greater risk of ICA and proposed a likely causative role for two specific genes. The study population has since grown to 15,000 people, and Günel says that more detailed genetic data on aneurysm risk should soon emerge from his research.

Günel received his medical degree from Istanbul School of Medicine, in Turkey, and completed his residency in neurosurgery at YNHH in 1998. That same year, he joined the Yale faculty as an assistant professor of neurosurgery. Since 2001, he has been chief of the Section of Neurovascular Surgery.

Among other organizations, Günel is a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), and the Academy of Neurological Surgeons. He is currently serving a term as president of the Joint Cerebrovascular Section of the AANS/CNS.

The Nixdorff-German Professorship was established in 1974 with a bequest from Elizabeth S. Nixdorff in memory of her late husband, Charles Edward Nixdorff, and “in recognition of the many contributions to medicine” of William J. German, M.D. German’s neurosurgical career at the School of Medicine spanned four decades. He retired as professor of surgery and chief of the Section of Neurosurgery in 1968.

In a 1981 obituary of German published in the Journal of Neurosurgery and written by the late Yale neurosurgeons William F. Collins, M.D., and Lycurgus M. Davey, M.D., German was remembered as “an unpretentious, kind, dignified, expert in his profession, and, perhaps most of all, a friend to everyone who knew him.”