Cornelius H. Lam, MD, PhD

Professor, Department of Neurosurgery

Cornelius H. Lam

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Office Phone 612-624-6666

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Deb Fellows

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MD, University of Colorado

Residency in Neurosurgery, McGill University's Montreal Neurological Institute, Montreal, Canada

Fellowship in Pediatric Neurosurgery, McGill University's Montreal Children's Hospital, Montreal, Canada

PhD, Transport Phenomenon/Biomedical Engineering, University of Minnesota

BS, University of Denver


Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Lam received his undergraduate degree from the University of Denver and his MD from the University of Colorado. Following two years of surgery at Beth Israel Hospital of Boston, he completed his neurosurgical residency at McGill University's Montreal Neurological Institute. During his training, Dr. Lam was the Preston Robb Fellow and performed research on excitatory amino acids and basal ganglia development. He went on to Montreal Children's Hospital for his pediatric neurosurgery fellowship before coming to the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Lam joined the university in 1998. He is a versatile neurosurgeon who works in several areas, including pediatrics, functional neurosurgery, and spine. Most of his time is spent at the Minneapolis Veteran’s Administration Hospital where he works with patients and runs the VA-funded Neuro-transport Lab. “I’m interested in the movement of substances in and out of the brain,” he said. 

Having received his PhD from the University of Minnesota's Department of Biomedical Engineering in the area of fluid transport, Dr. Lam likens this type of fluid movement to building a dam or to draining sewage. “For instance, hydrocephalus is a buildup of water in the head,” he noted. “We want to know how that water can be removed.” 

Dr. Lam’s research at the VA focuses on removing by-products of trauma from the brain such as debris, blood by-products, or dead tissue. “Military trauma motivates the VA’s interest in this work,” he noted.

Collaborations help open doors

To do his research, Dr. Lam works closely with other departments at the U, such as Mechanical Engineering. In addition to partnering with Dr. Walter Low of the Neurosurgery Department, Dr. Lam is currently working with Allison Hubel, Mechanical Engineering; Ching Yuan, Ophthalmology and Neurosciences, and Greg Vercelloti, Hematology and Oncology. Together, they are designing instruments that will allow them to quantify fluid movement – or substance kinetics – in a single cell. “When you isolate a cell, you reduce or remove any influences on fluid movement,” he said. “Then you can observe that movement from one side of the cell to another.”

Why is this important? According to Dr. Lam, if you have a blood clot in the brain it contains toxins and oxidants that should be removed before they can do any damage. Dr. Lam and his research associates want to figure out how to help the body do that. “Any sort of toxins, drugs, or poisons can be studied by the same paradigms that we use,” he added. “Our research is rather broad.”

Awards & Recognition

  • Hornbeck Academic Achievement Award, Denver University, 1980, 1981, 1982
  • Award for High Achievement in Independent Research, Denver University, 1983
  • Honors in Chemistry, Denver University, 1983
  • Phi Beta Kappa, 1983
  • George B Packard Award in surgery, University of Colorado, 1987
  • Harris Yett Award in Clinical Orthopaedics, Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard University, Boston, 1988
  • Third Prize, Visiting Professor's Research Award, Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard University, Boston, 1989
  • Preston Robb Scholar, McGill University, Montreal, 1995
  • President, Montreal Neurological Institute Fellow’s Society, McGill University, Montreal, 1996
  • Penfield McNaughton Award for Outstanding Resident in Neurosurgery, McGill University Neurosurgery residency program, Montreal, 1997
  • Herz Foundation Faculty Teaching Development Award 2004
  • Regent’s scholarship, University of Minnesota, 2005 – 2011
  • Dr. and Mrs. Scott Augustine Endowment for the MDMS program, 2005 – 2006
  • Marquis Who’s who in Medicine and Healthcare, 2006
  • Nominee, 7th Annual Medical Staff Award for Clinical Excellence, Twin Cities Veterans Administration Medical Center, 2008
  • Mentor for Hydrocephalus Association Resident Presentation Award winner – Christopher G. Janson, MD, 2009
  • Mentor for VA Zieve Resident Research Award winner – Christopher G. Janson, MD, 2010

Professional Associations

  • Society of Neuroscience
  • American Association of Advancement of Science
  • Minnesota Medical Association Committee on Accreditation and
  • Pediatric section, American Association of Neurological
  • Surgeons and Congress of Neurological Surgeons
  • American Association of Neurological Surgeons
  • Minnesota Neurosurgical Society
  • Congress of Neurological Surgeons
  • Minnesota Medical Association
  • Hennepin Medical Society


Research Funding Grants

  • 2/2018 – 8/2018 VA Merit Review Application - extension, “CSF Clearance of Intracranial Debris from Traumatic Brain Injury” – role: PI
  • 1/2013 – no end date, A Long-term Follow-up Study for the Evaluation of Patients Who Have Deep Brain Stimulation System for the Adjunctive Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder, site co-investigator (PI: Barry Rittberg)
  • 2/10/2013 – no end date, Institute for Engineering in Medicine, Nanotechnology Development and Applications for Clinical Neuroscience Applications; role: co-I (PI: Jian-Ping Wang PhD, Walter Low PhD)
  • 1/2013- “Increase Of Vagal Tone in chronic Heart Failure (INOVATE-HF) - A Randomized Study to establish the Safety and Efficacy of CardioFit for the Treatment of Subjects with Heart Failure and Left Ventricular Dysfunction
    Role: co-I (PI: David G Benditt, MD)


Publications (most current, 38 total)

  1. Sharma A, DiVito MD, Shore DE, Block AD, Pollock K, Solheid P, Feinberg JM, Modiano J, Lam CH, Hubel A, Stadler BJH. Alignment of collagen matrices using magnetic nanowires and magnetic barcode readout using first order reversal curves (FORC). Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials (MAGMA) 459, 1 August 2018, pp. 176-181
  2. Miller, C., Hansen, EA, Lam, CH. Behavior of arachnoid cell growth in the presence of fibroblast, bilirubin and biliverdin. J Clinical Neuroscience 2017 40:163-168. PMID 28343921
  3. Hansen EA, Janson C, Romanova L, Lam, CH. The effects of blood and blood related products on the physiologic behavior of arachnoid cells, Experimental Brain Research, 235(6):1749-1758, 2017 PMID 28285405
  4. Norby K., Kainth K, Ganzel R, Wagner JA, Lam CH. Medication Adherence and OR Efficiency, Federal Practitioner, 34(3):16-19, March 2017 (lead article for cover topic).
  5. Lam C.H., Romanova L., Hubel A., Janson C., Hansen E.A. The influence of fibroblast on arachnoid leptomeningeal cells in vitro, Brain Research, 2017, 1657:109-119. PMID 27923631
  6. McPheeters MJ, Kainth DS, Lam C.H. Spontaneous frontal intradiploic meningoencephalocele, (Surg Neurol Int 2015, 8:6 (Suppl 27, S651-4.). PMID: 26713172
  7. Romanova L, Hansen EA, Janson C, Lam CH. Generation and preliminary characterization of immortalized cell line derived from rat microlymphatics, Microcirculation 2014, 21(6): 551-61.
  8. Lam, C.H., Hansen E.A., Hall W., Hubel A., Application of transport phenomena analysis technique to cerebrospinal fluid, J Neurosurgical Science, 2013, 57 (4) 317-26
  9. Lam, C.H., Hansen E.A., Janson C., Bryan A., Hubel A., The characterization of arachnoid cell transport II: paracellular transport and blood CSF barrier formation of arachnoid cells, Neuroscience 2012, 222:228-38
  10. Conway A., Wiernik A., Rawal A., Lam C., Mesa H., Occult primary medullary thyroid carcinoma presenting with pituitary and parotid metastases: case report and review of the literature, Endocrine Pathology 2012, 23 (2):115-22.


  1. Lam, C.H., The Egress of Fluid from the Brain via Arachnoid Transport: Foundational Work for the Tissue Engineering of the Arachnoid Granulation, PhD thesis, University of Minnesota, 2011

Chapters in Books

  1. Sherr G., Lam, C.H., iMRI Shunt Placement, in Intra-operative MRI-Guided Neurosurgery, ed. W.A. Hall, C. Nimsky, and C.L. Truwit, Thieme Publishing, 2010
  2. Rustamzadeh E., Lam, C.H., Managing hydrocephalus with shunting devices, in The Bionic Human, ed. F.E. Johnson and K.S. Virgo, Humana Press, 2005.

Invited Lectures (most current, 28 total)

  1. Hansen EA, Romanova L, Lam CH, Arachnoid Behavior in Fibroblast Co-culture, Research Day. Minneapolis VA Medical Center, Minneapolis, July 2016
  2. Norby K, Kainth K, Rosanne Ganzel R, Goyal A, Lam CH, Medication Compliance and Operating Room Efficiency, Neurosafe 2016, Oak Ridge Conference Center, Chaska, MN, July 2016
  3. Romanova L, Hansen EA, Lam CH, Transport Characteristic so Lymphatic Endothelial Cells, Society of Neuroscience, Chicago, September 2015
  4. Hansen EA, Romanova L, Lam CH, Arachnoid Behavior in Fibroblast Co-culture, Society of Neuroscience, Chicago, September 2015
  5. “CSF Dynamics”, Neurology Neurosurgery Neuroradiology conference, University of Minnesota, 2015
  6. “Neuraxial Scarring”, Neurology Neurosurgery Neuroradiology conference, University of Minnesota, 2013
  7. “The Neurosurgery-Biomedical Engineering Neurotransport Laboratory”, Minneapolis VA Operating Room Conference, Minneapolis, 2012
  8. “Clearance of Trauma Debris from the Brain”, Center for Translational Exploratory Neurotherapeutics, University of Minnesota, 2012
  9. “Hydrocephalus treatment: cutting edge”, Pediatric Neurology Grand Rounds, University of Minnesota, 2007
  10. “Hydrocephalus: models, shunts, directions”, Neurology Grand Rounds, University of Minnesota, 2005.

Presentations at National Conferences

  1. “Cellular substrate for the study of CSF transport: mouse leptomeningeal cell culture”, Pediatric section of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, San Francisco, 2004
  2. “Hydrocephalus”, Craniofacial clinic conference, University of Minnesota, 2002
  3. “Ventriculomegaly, arrested hydrocephalus, and compensated hydrocephalus”, American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons, Nevis, 2002
  4. “Nonteratomatous sacral tumors of the pediatric population”, Joint American and Japanese Society of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Hawaii, 2000
  5. “Nonteratomatous sacral tumors of the pediatric population”, Pediatric section of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Atlanta, 1999

Published Abstracts and Posters Presented at Professional Meetings, Conferences (most current, 55 total)

  1. Gupte A, Darrow D, Gawande R, Park M, Lam C. Subdural cavity volume, thickness and midline shift measurements in epilepsy patients with subdural grid electrode placement. World Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery (WSSFN), Mumbai, India, 2015. (submitted)
  2. Hansen EA, Romanova L, Yuan C, Lam CH. Arachnoid behavior in fibroblast co-cultures, Society for Neuroscience 45th Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, October 2015
  3. Hansen EA, Yuan C, Lam CH. Arachnoid and lymphatic transport and the effect of clathrin inhibitors, Society for Neuroscience 45th Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, Oct 2015
  4. Lam CH, Hansen EA, Hubel A, Yuan C, Norby KE. The effect of blood on arachnoid cell transport properties, VA Annual Research Day, Minneapolis VA Medical Center, May 2015
  5. Miller C, Hansen EA, Lam CH. Decreased growth of arachnoid cells exposed to fibroblasts and bilirubin, AANS/CNS Section on Pediatric Neurological Surgery, Amelia Island, FL, December 2014
  6. Miller C, Hansen EA, Lam CH. Decreased growth of arachnoid cells exposed to fibroblasts and bilirubin, 12th Annual Neurocritical Care Society Meeting, Seattle, WA, September 2014
  7. Lam CH, Hansen EA. Arachnoic cell physiology and behavrio in fibroblast co-cultures, VA Annual Research Day, Minneapolis VA Medical Center, June 2014
  8. Sharma, A., Zhu, Y., Hansen, E., Hein, M., Thor, S., Lam, C.H., Hubel, A., Stadler, B., Manipulation of Cells using Au-capped Ni Nanowires, invited talk, 12th Joint MMM/Intermag Conference, Chicago, IL, 2013
  9. Hein, M., Sharma, A., Hansen E., Lam, C., Stadler B., Nanowire Enhanced Cell Permeability, Materials Research Society, San Francisco, CA, 2013
  10. Lam, C.H., Hansen, E.A., Arachnoid Cell Morphology/Physiology in Fibroblast Cocultures, Society of Neuroscience, San Francisco, CA, 2013.



  • Pediatric neurosurgeryEpilepsyHydrocephalusSpina bifidaTethered spinal cordCraniofacial disordersBrain tumorsCysts in children