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Faculty & Staff

We are pleased to introduce the newest members of the Department of Neurosurgery.

Congratulations to Deb Bhowmick, MD, who was promoted to Clinical Associate Professor in September. In addition, Dr. Bhowmick recently received board certification in neurological surgery.

Simon Khagi, MD, is now board certified in neuro-oncology, as well as internal medicine and medical oncology.

Best Doctors named Drs. Matt EwendScott Elton and Julie Sharpless to the 2017-2018 Best Doctors in America® list. Approximately four percent of doctors in America earn this prestigious honor.

Best wishes to Julie Sharpless, MD, whose last day with the Department was November 17. Dr. Sharpless moved to Washington, D.C. to join her husband, Ned Sharpless, MD, the recently appointed director of the National Cancer Institute.

You may soon spot a super hero or two walking the halls of the UNC Children’s Specialty Clinic. Carolyn Quinsey, MD, is outfitting medical students in hero costumes to put smiles on the faces of our patients and their families.

In addition, Dr. Quinsey has initiated a weekly resident skull base educational program to help our residents fine-tune their knowledge and skills.

Research, Treatment and Conferences

Deanna Sasaki-Adams, MD, received the Ellie Helton Chair of Research Award for $40,000 from the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. Dr. Sasaki-Adams will use the funds to research the novel magnetic resonance imaging sequence to characterize inflammatory changes in aneurysms and assess the therapeutic effect of aspirin.

In October, UNC became the first center in the state of NC to implant the new, FDA-approved deep brain stimulation electrodes manufactured by St. Jude/Abbott.  Eldad Hadar, MD and Daniel Roque, MD from Neurosurgery and Neurology, respectively, collaborated to offer this new device to a patient suffering from essential tremor with the added benefit that electrical current delivered by the stimulator could be directed towards desired brain structures and away from other structures, with the goal of reducing the risk for stimulation-related side effects.

Drs. Sasaki-AdamsYap and Omofoye were part of a team whose research, Factors Affecting the Obliteration Rate of Intracranial Aneurysms Treated with a Single Pipeline Embolization Device, was published in World Neurosurgery, August 2017.

Matt Ewend, MD, along with other researchers, published research in Ear and HearingLongitudinal Changes in Electrically Evoked Auditory Event-Related Potentials in Children with Auditory Brainstem Implants: Preliminary Results Recorded over 3 Years, September 2017.

Deb Bhowmick, MD, and Casey Hribar published research in the Journal of Craniovertebral Junction and SpineUse of C2 vertebroplasty and stereotactic radiosurgery for treatment of lytic metastasis of the odontoid process, July – September, 2017.

Neurosurgery resident Nathan Davis, MD and neurocritical care fellow, Winnie Lau, MD, presented posters at the Neuro Critical Care conference held in Hawaii last October. Deanna Sasaki-Adams, MD, was also a contributor. Both posters received a top score award.

Drs. Davis and Lau at the Neuro Critical Care Conference
Drs. Davis and Lau at the Neuro Critical Care Conference
Drs. Cools Elton Quinsey at AANS
Drs. Cools, Elton and Quinsey at the AANS/CNS Section on Pediatric Neurological Surgery Annual Meeting

Drs. Scott Elton, Carolyn Quinsey and Michael Cools attended the 46th Annual AANS/CNS Section on Pediatric Neurological Surgery Annual Meeting in Houston in late November. The research poster presented by Dr. Cools was Use of Ligamentum Nuchae for Dural Closure in Chiari Decompressions.

Melody Watral, CPNP-PC, CPON and Kristi Hildebrand, MSN, CPNP-AC, attended the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Conference last September. In addition, Melody Watral attended the Annual Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Conference last August.

Events and Community Outreach

Head for the Cure sponsored a public tailgate event for the Department last September. About 90 attendees enjoyed food, beverage and conversation before the UNC/Duke football game.



The South African news program Carte Blanche recently highlighted the research of Matt Ewend, MD; Shawn Hingtgen, PhD; and Simon Khagi, MD, on how stem cells made from skin cells can hunt down and kill brain cancer.

Simon Khagi, MD, discussed the benefits of Optune, an FDA-approved device for treatment of glioblastoma, in Lineberger’s November newsletter.

In addition, Dr. Khagi was quoted last September in a News and Observer article, Duke researchers say they have a breakthrough in treating brain cancer.

UNC Neurosurgery was a sponsor of the Ellie Helton Memorial 5K and Auction last October. Many thanks to all who donated or participated in the event.

Drs. Resident MDs Loewenstein, Barnett, Piazza at the Ellie Helton 5K
Resident MDs Loewenstein, Barnett, Piazza at the Ellie Helton 5K
Edy Murphy - Helton Run
Edy Murphy

Gene Hobbs, CHSE, along with UNC Anesthesiology clinicians, wrote a letter to the editor that was published in Anesthesia and AnalgesiaYou Will Never Walk Alone: A Simulation Experience for Caregiver’s Family and Friends, December 2017.

In addition, The Society for Human Resource Management published a blog by Gene Hobbs in November, Accommodating Epilepsy in the Workplace.

Scott Elton, MD, gave a presentation on Abnormal Headshapes, Craniosynostosis, and Plagiocephaly to 12 pediatricians at the Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg in November. In addition, Dr. Elton, along with Dr. Jeyhan S. Woods, also gave this presentation to 30 pediatric physicians at Cone Hospital in Greensboro in early December.

From the Department

After receiving over 200 applications for the residency program, we’ve wrapped up three rounds of interviews with over 40 exceptional candidates. Now we wait for match day on Friday, March 16.

The UNC Neurosurgery, Neurology and Child Neurology residency programs all ranked in the top 50 for reputation nationwide according to the latest Doximity Residency Navigator rankings.

After three successful years, last September marked the final month for the Better Back Care program, funded through a $6 million grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Innovation Center.

The Department of Neurosurgery folks, along with friends and family, enjoyed an evening of fun and fellowship at the annual holiday party on December 8. A cold, snowy evening brought out the “ugly” sweaters in droves.


Featured Tweet

More than a few raised eyebrows in the weekly resident neurosurgery skills lab. These minimally invasive supra-orbital “eyebrow” craniotomies have less pain and a faster recovery than an open craniotomy for brain cancer. (Quinsey/Hobbs)


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