Why the University of Minnesota

Since our inception more than 75 years ago, 15% of our graduates have gone on to lead neurosurgery departments around the world. We have worked hard to create an intimate, multi-faceted neurosurgical training experience. We care deeply about your training and will give you many opportunities to develop your skills. 

We are renowned for:

  • Innovative brain tumor research/treatment
  • Introducing dexamethasone as a treatment for cerebral edema
  • Pioneering research in applying stem cell therapies to treat neurological disorders
  • Collaborating with the medical device industry to develop, apply and improve technologies associated with procedures such as deep brain stimulation for treatment of Parkinson’s disease
  • Applying epidural spine stimulation for treating chronic spinal cord injury
  • Developing groundbreaking procedures using intraoperative MRI surgery.

You can participate in cutting-edge research

Because we deal with some of the most complicated and difficult neurosurgical diseases, we constantly face problems for which there are not definite answers. Our research programs are focused on better understanding these problems, which can lead to effective treatments in the future.

The neurosurgical research laboratories have developed a focus on stem-cell mediated recovery from various forms of nervous system injury.

  • Clark C. Chen, MD, PhD, leads a team working on brain tumor research at the Masonic Cancer Center
  • Walter Low, PhD, who directs the research laboratories, has particular expertise in adult multi-potent neural stem cells
  • Resident Program Director Michael C. Park, MD, PhD, is a neuromodulation researcher aligned with the Udall Center of Excellence, working on treatments for movement disorders
  • Ann Parr, MD, PhD, is focused on novel cell-based therapies for spinal cord injury
  • Andrew Grande, MD, has established his laboratory for stem cell-mediated recovery from stroke. In partnership with Bharathidasan Jagadeesan, MD, he co-directs the U's Neuroanatomy Lab
  • Cornelius Lam, MD, PhD, is investigating bio-engineering artificial cerebrospinal fluid absorption pathways in his lab at the Veterans Administration Medical Center.

Pre-doctoral and postdoctoral opportunities in translational research

Opportunities are available for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to obtain rigorous training in translational research in the neurobiology of disease at the University of Minnesota. An NIH-awarded Training Grant provides financial support that will allow students and fellows to establish themselves as independent investigators who will pursue research into translational neuroscience.

Research opportunities in the laboratories of more than 35 preceptors at the University of Minnesota cover broad areas of translational neuroscience. Research is conducted in state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, including the McGuire Translational Research Facility, Lions Research Building, Jackson Hall, Molecular and Cell Biology Building, and the Basic Sciences and Biomedical Engineering Building (BSBE).

All trainees supported by the Translational Research in Neurobiology of Disease Training Grant must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

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Graduate placements since 2004

  • Florida Spine Institute, Clearwater, FL
  • Metropolitan Neurosurgery, PA, Minneapolis, MN
  • Mercy Medical Center, Redding, CA
  • Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital, Minneapolis, MN
  • Metropolitan Neurosurgery, Minneapolis, MN
  • Central Minnesota Neurosciences, Sartell, MN
  • Neurosurgical Associates Ltd, Minneapolis
  • Great Lakes Neurosurgery and Neurointervention, Erie, PA
  • Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN
  • Mayo Clinic Health System, LaCrosse, WI
  • Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford, CA
  • Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Los Angeles, CA
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

Resident Award Program

The Department of Neurosurgery gives up to four awards each year to residents for outstanding performance. Awards are given only when the criteria are met, thus are not necessarily given each year.

Zhao Zi-Zhen Award

The Zhao Zi-Zhen Award is the highest honor that we can bestow on a graduate resident. The winner receives a certificate, a specially designed commemorative plaque and $4,000. Established by Dr. Shelley Chou and his wife, Jolene, the award is in memory of Dr. Chou's mother, Zhao Zi-Zhen. It honors a graduating neurosurgery resident who exemplifies his mother’s qualities of:

  • Inquisitiveness
  • Perseverance
  • Honesty
  • Frugality
  • Compassion.

This award recognizes the true "triple-threat" performer: an excellent clinician and technical surgeon, one who teaches with skill and enthusiasm, and a continuous learner who constantly searches for solutions to unanswered questions facing neurosurgeons and their patients. Dr. Chou recognized that such individuals are a special subset of neurosurgeons and that it would not necessarily be appropriate to give the award every year.

Peyton Award

The Peyton Award, in memory of Dr. William Peyton, the founding head of Neurosurgery at Minnesota, is given for the outstanding presentation of scientific investigation during the academic year by a resident, in collaboration with a University of Minnesota faculty member. To be eligible for the award, the presentation must be competitively selected for presentation at a meeting of national scope, and at least one faculty member must witness it. The winner's name is engraved on the Peyton Award plaque; the award is formally presented during the Welcoming Ceremony in June.

Seljeskog Award

The Seljeskog Award for outstanding resident publication is given in honor of Dr. Edward Seljeskog. Dr. Seljeskog was a faculty member for 25 years and demonstrated a strong interest in resident academic activity throughout his time on the faculty. To qualify for consideration, an article must be published in a peer-reviewed journal during the academic year in question. The article must be published with a University of Minnesota faculty member. The winner's name is engraved on the Seljeskog Award plaque; the award is formally presented during the Welcoming Ceremony in June.

American Board of Neurological Surgery Written Exam Performance

Awarded to the resident taking the examination for credit during the academic year who achieves the highest score. A minimum score in the 80th percentile is required for the award to be conferred. The recipient of this award will have his or her name engraved on a plaque in the departmental conference room and receive a certificate of recognition at the annual graduation celebration.

Department of Neurosurgery Resident Teaching Award

Given that medical education is both a core function and a behavior we strive to instill in our residents, this award is designed to be given annually at graduation to the resident who is deemed the best medical educator the previous year of fellow residents, medical students, or other health care providers. 

The recipient will be selected by the faculty by direct vote after considering the following:

  • Peer nomination
  • Medical student evaluations
  • Annual review performance
  • Other nominations/evaluations.

Ties will be broken by the Chairman’s vote.

The recipient will have his or her name engraved on a permanent plaque in the department and will receive a $250 cash prize.

World-class research

"The kind of research being done – especially stem cell and shunt research – attracted me to the program. After I started, I noticed that you get strong support from attendings. They provide a lot of attention, teaching, and feedback." - Joshua Lim, Former Resident

Strong leaders

"The program has stable, solid, principled leadership. Faculty members are really excellent in terms of their expertise. We learned from them firsthand; I don’t think I would get this everywhere." –Akshay Gupte, Former Resident