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Michael L J Apuzzo

Counselor for Academic & Research Affairs & Development; Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Neurosurgery



Michael L. J. Apuzzo is one of the world’s best known and respected neurosurgeons. He is the Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Neurosurgery in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Yale Medical School, Adjunct Professor of Neurosurgery in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Weill Cornell Medical College and Senior Consultant for Clinical and Research Activities at the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute at West Virginia University.

The Edwin M. Todd/Trent H. Wells, Jr., Professor Emeritus, of Neurological Surgery and Radiation Oncology, Biology, and Physics at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles, he was Director of Neurosurgery at the Kenneth Norris, Jr. Cancer Hospital and Research Institute and Director of the Center for Stereotactic Neurosurgery and Associated Research at the institution. He was Senior Clinical Director of Surgical NeuroOncology and the former Director of Surgical Epilepsy Treatment Programs at the School of Medicine. He was Director of the Gamma Unit Facility at the USC University Hospital and Neurosurgical Director of the Norris CyberKnife Facility.

In addition, he served as Distinguished Professor of Advanced Neurosurgery and Translational Neuroscience and Senior Advisor, at the Neurological Institute at the Wexner Medical School, The Ohio State University.

He is the product of a maritime family with roots in Amalfi, Italy. A New Haven, Connecticut native, he attended college preparatory school at the Hopkins School and went on to Yale College where he completed an active academic and athletic career. He obtained his medical school degree at Boston University and after taking general surgery training in Montreal at McGill’s Royal Victoria Hospital, he returned to the Yale School of Medicine to complete his neurosurgical residency with additional fellowships in neurophysiology and neuropathology.

During that period, he also obtained special training in nuclear, submarine and deep sea diving medical specialties at the US Naval Post Graduate School at Groton, Connecticut, following which, he served in the United States Naval Nuclear Submarine Service assigned to extended Polaris submarine patrols for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to polar regions, the Mediterranean and Black Seas receiving Atlantic Fleet Admiral’s Commendations and the Surgeon General’s Award for distinguished service and unusual achievements.

Later, in association with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, he served as a Medical Consultant and Research Scientist during the first Viking project for MARS Landing (1977).

He joined the surgical staff of the Los Angeles County General Hospital and the faculty at the University of Southern California School of Medicine in 1973. There in 1975, he established one of the world’s first central nervous system immunology and cellular biology laboratories. He simultaneously developed programs for the study of refinements of microsurgical techniques for intra- and trans-cerebral surgeries for the management of intracranial neoplasms. In particular, he devised, described, and advocated complex midline trans-cerebral microsurgical corridors to the centrally located third ventricle, ultimately popularizing these approaches internationally. During this period, he helped to establish the microscope as a regular and essential component of the general neurosurgical armamentarium. He was appointed Full Professor by early selection in 1980.

In 1979, he was a primary clinical motivator in the emergence of imaging directed stereotactic neurosurgery as a modern component of the world’s neurosurgery armamentarium and worked in developing, testing, and refining prototype stereotactic systems and technical adjuvants both in the laboratory and clinical sectors. These devices and methods created a mode of intracranial navigation that brought the performance of intracranial surgery to a new level of precision and safety, affecting the technical practice of neurosurgery universally. He introduced the computer as an intraoperative neurosurgical tool. During that same period, he reintroduced intracranial and spinal endoscopy as technical adjuncts. He took an early leadership position in stereotactic radiosurgery introducing and developing rotational dynamic radiosurgery techniques and performing one of the first procedures using these methods for brain tumors and arteriovenous malformations in North America. He has been active in studying the concept of functional restoration in the central nervous system and performed one of North America’s first human stereotactic cerebral grafting research procedures for the amelioration of Parkinsonism.

Partnering with the California Institute of Technology, he conceived the term “cellular and molecular neuro-surgery” and creating a synthesis has promoted the amalgam of molecular biology and neurosurgery in the comprehension and management of neurological diseases. He has developed and actively championed the concept of minimally invasive neurosurgery and has played a primary role in the investigation and application of vagal nerve stimulation for the management of intractable epilepsy establishing a new and important direction in the treatment and understanding of this disease and further defining pathways of cerebral function —applying modulation for movement, neuropsychiatric disease and pain.

He has consistently worked to introduce elements of advanced technology to neurosurgery and operative events working closely as a special consultant to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) through the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the Cape Kennedy Canaveral Facilities effecting important transfer of concepts and devices to patient treatment and research. Collectively and with these contributions , he coined and established the techniques of “minimal invasion” . The concept was directed to reducing the need of craniotomy and ultimately eliminating it.

Active in a broad spectrum of areas and working vigorously to support internationality in the field, he has given over 135 invited professorships nationally and internationally and has more than 800 publications including 52 edited volumes and 14 monographs on topics related to stereotaxy, micro-operative techniques, epilepsy, brain neoplasia, cerebral vascular anomalies and the future of neurosurgery. His major text atlases SURGERY OF THE THIRD VENTRICLE and BRAIN SURGERY COMPLICATION AVOIDANCE AND MANAGEMENT are considered classics in the field and are employed globally as principal technical guides in clinical practice. SURGERY OF THE HUMAN CEREBRUM is widely considered the foundation for surgery of the brain for the next generation.

He has served on more than 27 scientific editorial review boards. Beginning in 1991 and over an 18-year-period, he held the position of Editor-in-Chief of the international journal NEUROSURGERY establishing new dimensions in medical journalism through content, style presentation, and dynamic use of the Internet as a global vehicle for information dissemination and mutual exchange of ideas. NEUROSURGERY-Online was the first principal neuro-science publication to be internationally distributed via the Internet. This digital offering had a reach of 13 million through the OVID gateway. NEUROSURGERY became generally regarded as the principal voice for innovation and avant-garde thinking within the field and has served as a model for other journals. In this capacity, he worked to relate and emphasize the importance of history, culture, the arts, and humanities to the individual neurosurgeon and the collective field. In 2005, he founded Operative NEUROSURGERY, the field’s principal peer-reviewed publication dealing with operative techniques in surgery of the nervous system. Under his direction, NEUROSURGERY achieved the highest impact factor of all neurosurgery journals and stood in the top 7% of the top 200 surgical journals worldwide.

As Editor Emeritus of NEUROSURGERY, Operative NEUROSURGERY, and NEUROSURGERY Online, he was selected Editor-in-Chief and Founder of the global journal WORLD NEUROSURGERY, which published its first edition in April 2010. This publication was designed to communicate issues of social, political, economic, and educational relevance to the global delivery of neurosurgery and its continuing evolution in scientific, clinical and technical realms. WORLD NEUROSURGERY had an electronic reach of 23 million readers through the Elsevier Internet platforms. The project was highly successful with the publication taking its place as one of the principal peer-reviewed offerings in the field.

He has been active in neurosurgical organizations nationally and internationally. In particular, he has developed acclaimed innovative programs for transfer of scientific information and surgical methodology. Escalating the presence of internationality in the field, he established the benchmark style and content for neurosurgical meetings as Program Chair for the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) in 1990—a format which has been sustained and imitated for more than three decades by the majority of major national and international organizations. He served as the Founding Chair for the Coordinating Committee for Education for the AANS establishing methods and content of all educational offerings in the field during a six-year period. For a decade he chaired the committee responsible for developing the questions for the written Neurosurgery Board Examination (Society of Neurological Surgeons). He has simultaneously held leadership and founder’s positions on boards or key committees of many neurosurgical organizations serving as President of both the Society of University Neurosurgeons and the American Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery. He served on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

The recipient of numerous honors and awards, he is an Honorary Member of multiple national and international organizations. He has served as Honored Guest Laureate for the Congress of

Neurological Surgeons and later received the organization’s Founder’s Laurel Award for contributions to neurosurgical education. He was lauded as “primary architect” of the “Reinvention of Neurosurgery “ during the CNS Annual Meeting in 2001, where he was the Honored Guest Laureate. He was awarded the William Beecher Scoville Prize for being exemplary practitioner of the “art and science” of Neurosurgery by the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies. He was awarded the Van Heck Prize by the Belgian National Foundation for Scientific Research for “work in the treatment of untreatable diseases.” He has been honored by the World Health Organization (WHO), World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) and Queen Sophia of Spain at Madrid’s El Escorial with the Sixto Obrador Medal and Sweden’s National Center for Research and Higher Education in Medicine, the Karolinska Institute, with the Herbert Olivecrona Award for unusual and seminal contributions to the field. At the award ceremonies that were in parallel with Nobel Prize activities in Stockholm, he was lauded as “the primary intellectual catalyst in neurological surgery.” He has received a Doctorate honoris pro causa from the 85 member Italian National University Consortium administered by the University Suor Orsola Benincasa in Naples and Honorary Doctorate of Science from The Ohio State University and West Virginia University and its associated Rockefeller Neurological Institute. He received University Gold Medals from Boston University in Boston and the University of Messina in Italy for his contributions to neurosurgery, medicine, internationalization and humanities. He is the recipient of the Vilhelm Magnus Medal (Norway), the Francesco Durante International Prize (Italy) and the Bahcesehir University Medical of Science (Turkey) where the Medical School Class of 2025 is designated “The Professor Michael L. J. Apuzzo Class”.

The Congress of Neurological Surgeons has established the Michael L. J. Apuzzo Lecture on Creativity and Innovation as a keynote of its Annual Meeting in perpetuity. The Apuzzo Lecture has been established in perpetuity at the Yale School of Medicine through the Department of Neurosurgery. An Apuzzo Prize for Creativity and Innovation has been established at the Keck School of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Yale School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College.

He has delivered multiple keynotes and named addresses at national and international meetings. He is proud to have initiated the founding of the Germany Academy of Neurosurgery on Alster Lake, Hamburg.

He served on the special advisory panels for the United States National Institutes of Health and held specific advisory positions for three American Presidents. In addition, he served as the principal Clinical Neurosurgical Consultant for the United States Congress.

Harboring a lifelong enthusiasm for recreational and competitive sports, he has served as the primary Neurosurgical Consultant to the University of Southern California Department of Athletics for more than four decades. In addition, he has served as special consultant to the National Football League (NFL). He was team neurosurgeon for the New York Football Giants for two decades. He has served as a special consultant to the NFL Commissioners Paul Tagliabue and Roger Goodell and the Leagues committee on head and spinal trauma.

Concurrently, he worked with investigators at the universities at USC, Cornell and Pittsburgh and the National Institutes of Health to develop both refined and practical neurological assessment methods that are now employed universally in the evaluation and management of head injury in sport.

He introduced the concept of physiological and navigational sensors during training and competitive events.

As Editor of NEUROSURSGERY, he introduced “sport” and emphasized the role of the neurosurgeon as a regular component of the publication.

During this time, he worked directly with biomedical engineers in Detroit’s automotive industry to improve design and testing standards of protective helmets.

His primary major interests continue to be the refinement of techniques of cerebral surgery, applications of the spectrum of physical energy forms for neoplastic, vascular and functional disease management, introduction of innovative high technology adjuvants to practical neurosurgery, functional restoration, applications of molecular biology to neurological disorders, cerebral protection methodologies, and the design of advanced neurosurgical operating environments. Most recently, he has become active in exploring aspects of molecular genetics and nanotechnology for their application to nervous system diseases. He has been and remains an activist in the realm of neurosurgical education and the amalgamation of the global neurosurgical community.

His personal interests continue to be Architecture—the American Vernacular; Fine Arts—20th Century Painting; Music—Classical Musicology; Automotive design and function: Competitive Athletics; Recreational Athletics; and Historical Elements of American Cinema and Cinematography.

He is particularly proud of his son Jason Alexander Apuzzo, PhD, MFA, writer, filmmaker and historian.

REV: 11/2021

Education & Training

  • Chief Resident
    Yale New Haven Hospital (1973)
  • Fellow
    Yale School of Medicine (1972)
  • Resident
    Yale New Haven Hospital (1971)
  • Fellow
    U.S. Navy Post Graduate School of Submarine, Nuclear & Deep Sea Diving Medicine (1968)
  • Fellow
    Yale School of Medicine (1967)
  • Resident
    Yale New Haven Hospital (1967)
  • Intern
    Royal Victoria Hospital McGill University (1966)
  • MD
    Boston University School of Medicine (1965)
  • BA
    Yale College (1961)
  • Graduate
    The Hopkins School (1957)

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
Counselor for Research, Academic Affairs & DevelopmentYale School of Medicine2021
"Professor Michael L J Apuzzo Class of 2025" AdmittedBahcesehir University School2021
Bahcesehir University Medal of ScienceBahcesehir University, School of Medicine2019
Michael L. J. Apuzzo Resident Literature Award for Creativity and Innovation for Contributions to the Peer-reviewed Medical LiteratureWeill Cornell Medical College2018
Michael L. J. Apuzzo Resident Literature Award for Creativity and Innovation for Contributions to the Peer-reviewed Medical LiteratureYale School of Medicine2017
PhD, Hon.The Consortium of Italian National Universitites (Rome) Administered by University of Suor Orsola Benincasa2016
Honoree: Library of Congress, Veteran History Project, US Naval: Submarine Service-"NATO Polaris Patrols", Archived, DiscussantAmerican Red Cross2016
Distinguished Adjunct Professor of NeurosurgeryDepartment of Neurosurgery, Yale School of Medicine2015
ScD, Hon.The Ohio State Univeristy2015
Founder's LaurelCongress of Neurological Surgeons2014
Distinguished Career AwardSociety of University Neurosurgeons2013
Francesco Durante International PrizeUniversity of Messina (Sicily) and La Sapienza (Rome, Italy)2010
Michael L. J. Apuzzo Resident Literature Award for Creativity and Innovation for Contributions to the Peer-reviewed Medical LiteratureUniveristy of Southern California Keck School of Medicine2009
Vilhelm Magnus MedalNorwegian Neurological Society2009
Michael L.J. Apuzzo Lecture on Creativity and InnovationEstablished in perpetuity by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons2006
Founder, Germany Academy of Neurosurgery2003
GAGNA A. Ch Van Heck PrizeThe National Foundation for Scientific Research2003
William Beecher Scoville PrizeWorld Federation of Neurological Societies (WFNS)2001
Honored Guest LaureateCongress of Neurological Surgeons2001
Distinguished AlumnusHopkins School New Haven2001
Herbert Olivecrona MedalKarolinska Hospital and Institute1998
Sixto Obrador Gold MedalWorld Health Organization (WHO) & World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS)1996
Distinguished Career AwardAmerican Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery1996
Edwin M. Todd/Trent H. Wells Jr., Professor, Neurological Surgery, and Radiation Oncology, Biology, and PhysicsKeck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California1995
Distinguished AlumnusBoston University School of Medicine1995
Honorary National Society MembershipsGermany, Austria, Norway, Scandinavia, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, China, and Korea1980
Board CertificationAmerican Board of Neurological Surgery1976
Fleet Admirals CommendationUnited States Navy Nuclear Submarine Force, New London, Connecticut1970
United States Surgeon General's AwardUnited States Navy, School of Submarine, Nuclear and Deep Sea Diving Medicine, New London, Connecticut1968

Professional Service

World NeurosurgeryFounder and Founding Editor-in-Chief2009 - 2015
Operative NeurosurgeryFounding Editor -in Chief2005 - 2009
NEUROSURGERY-CNSEditor-in-Chief1990 - 2009

Departments & Organizations