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Department News

After receiving almost 300 applications for the residency program, we wrapped up three consecutive days of interviews from October 31 – November 2 with 50 exceptional candidates. Now we wait for match day on March 15.

We’re hiring! The department has openings for a neurosurgeon, a Spine Center nurse, a quality and organizational excellence specialist and an administrative coordinator. We welcome referrals!


Beacon AwardThe UNC Neurosciences ICU received the silver-level Beacon Award for Excellence reflecting their exceptional patient care and healthy work environments. They are the only Neuroscience ICU in the state of NC to hold this award.

Carolyn Quinsey, MD, received a grant for $21,926 from Carolina for the Kids for her proposed research: “Technological approach to improvement of care access, throughput, and patient satisfaction in our Spanish-Speaking Pediatric Neurosurgical Population.” The project will use new translation devices during patient interactions and will assess medical accuracy and helpfulness in our patient’s clinical experiences.

DSA - Keynote Award 2018Deanna Sasaki-Adams, MD, and Adam Zanation, MD, (UNC Otolaryngology) were honored as keynote faculty at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Advanced Skull Base Course.

Resident Michael Catalino, MD, was awarded $5,000 in funding from the NC Spine Society for his research project: “Disparities in surgical treatment of spine fractures in older adults.”

Our team received the 2018 Smooth Operator Award from the multi-center Early MiNimally-invasive Removal of IntraCerebral Hemorrhage (ENRICH) trial. We made it from LKN to the OR in 8 hours 43 min! Learn more about ENRICH.


Scott Elton, MD, and Matt Ewend, MD, were co-authors of a study lead by UNC Lineberger’s Shawn Hingtgen, PhD, in which researchers were able to shrink tumors in laboratory models of medulloblastoma, and extend life. The study, published in PLOS ONE, is a necessary step toward developing clinical trials to determine if the approach works for children. Articles about the study were also published in Futurity and Science News.

Matt Ewend, MD, Deanna Sasaki-Adams, MD, and other UNC researchers found that “skullbase surgery is a safe option in persons 70 years or older, with similar outcomes across age ranges, surgical approaches, and disease processes” in their article published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Matt Ewend, MD, Deanna Sasaki-Adams, MD, and UNC researchers from the Departments of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and Ophthalmology published “Analysis of anterior and posterior maneuvers to enhance intraconal exposure” in the International Forum of Allergy and Rhinology.

Eldad Hadar, MD, and Hae Won Shin, MD (UNC Neurology), along with other UNC researchers published “Low-frequency direct cortical stimulation of left superior frontal gyrus enhances working memory performance” in NeuroImage.

Carolyn Quinsey, MD, and other researchers published, “A Systematic Review of Shunt-Related Extraneural Metastases of Primary Central Nervous System Tumors,” in Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery.

Drs. Carolyn Quinsey, Weston Northam, and Eldad Hadar along with other researchers published, “Challenges and opportunities for effective data collection in global neurosurgery: traumatic brain injury surveillance experience in Malawi” in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

Presentations / Conferences

Michael Cools, MDResident Michael Cools, MD, presented “Readmissions following prenatal vs postnatal myelomeningocele repair” at the 47th Annual Meeting of the AANS/CNS Section on Pediatric Neurological Surgery in Nashville in early December. In addition, medical student Allie Harbert mentored by Dr. Quinsey, presented on CT reduction in children. Also attending the meeting were Drs. Scott Elton, Carolyn Quinsey and Wes Northam, along with Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Melody Watral and Kristi Hildebrand.

DSA - Stroke Strikes Event 2018In September, Deanna Sasaki-Adams, MD, spoke about minimally invasive surgical treatments for stroke at the When Stroke Strikes event, joining experts from the UNC Comprehensive Stroke Center in a new educational program designed for nurses and other healthcare providers who want to learn the latest advances in caring for stroke patients. Suzann Riddle, RN, BSN; Audrey Lucterhand, RN, BSN; and Lindsay Thorp, FNP-BC, attended the course.

In addition, Dr. Sasaki-Adams spoke at the inaugural Women in Medicine Conference, sponsored by the UNC School of Medicine and the Office of Medical Education on October 12. The half-day conference was open to all UNC School of Medicine students, residents, fellows, faculty, staff, and alumnae.

Quinsey in Malawi, Sept 2018Carolyn Quinsey, MD, traveled to Malawi in September to share her expert knowledge on hydrocephalus and traumatic brain injury with health care providers at Kamuzu Central Hospital.

In addition, Dr. Quinsey moderated the pediatric neurosurgery section at the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) in Houston last October. She also spoke about surgical epilepsy at the Sturge-Weber Foundation Education Conference held at UNC in November, and presented “Tethered Cord – Who needs surgery and who needs to be screened?” at Rex’s pediatric grand rounds on October 10.

Simon Khagi, MD, presented a Medical and Surgical Oncology Live Lecture sponsored by UNC Lineberger on “Tumor Treating Fields for Glioblastoma” on September 26.

Pediatric nurse practitioners Melody Watral and Kristi Hildebrand attended the NC National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners conference (NC NAPNAP) on October 12. In addition, Melody attended the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation Board of Directors meeting in November, and serves as the secretary and treasurer for the organization.

Four medical students who have been working with UNC Neurosurgery faculty and staff presented their research at the John B. Graham Medical Student Research Society’s Student Research Day on October 29:

  • Allie Harbert presented “National Reduction of Head CT in Children” which earned her the Kuno Award for Public Health Research
  • Nic Alcala presented research on placental simulations
  • Tony Asher presented “How do you measure significant change following lumbar spine surgery?”
  • Deen Garba presented research on the efficiency of communication between neurosurgery and anesthesiologists.

During residency interviews, UNC Neurosurgery invited two special guest speakers for grand rounds:

  • Ankeet Udani, MD, Ms.ED, Duke Department of Anesthesiology, spoke on November 1 about the value of social media in healthcare and education; and
  • Majorie Stiegler, MD, Medical Director at GlaxoSmithKline and UNC Adjunct Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, spoke about “Medical Decision Making: The Cognition of Expertise and Error” on November 2.

Media / Outreach

Deb Bhowmick, MD, contributed to two articles:

  • UNC Health Talk: One Man’s Experience with Scoliosis, and a Surgical Solution
  • UNC Health Talk: A Surgical Solution for Degenerative Disease in the Neck

Carolyn Quinsey, MD, was interviewed for a story about the department’s efforts in Malawi in UNC Medicine’s November newsletter.

Scott Elton, MD, was featured in a patient story published by the Department of Surgery.

Khagi-Head Shave 2018Simon Khagi, MD, created a social media frenzy after holding a head shaving ceremony to promote the 2018 Head for the Cure 5K. In a WRAL story that was later picked up by other stations, he and his patient, Ashley Laton, discuss glioblastoma and the Optune device.

The Pediatric Neurosurgery team created four new social media blogs on bike helmets, car seats, pineal cysts and plagiocephaly.


UNC Neurosurgery hosted the North Carolina Spine Society’s 2018 Annual Meeting on the weekend of August 25 at UNC’s Rizzo Center. We had a record turnout for the meeting which featured hands-on labs at UNC Hospitals.

The 4th Annual Head for the Cure 5K Run/Walk held on September 8 was a tremendous success in its new location in Southern Village. We had a record-breaking 351 participants and 26 teams, raising over $54,000! View photos > | View Dr. Khagi’s post-run talk

Head for the Cure 2018 HFTC 2018


Several members of UNC Neurosurgery and their families participated in the Ellie Helton Memorial 5K held on October 13 in Cary to benefit the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.

Ellie Helton 2018 Ellie Helton 2018


Members of the UNC Department of Neurosurgery and their families enjoyed an evening of fellowship, celebration and sumo wrestling at the annual holiday party on December 7.

Dr. Hadar - Holiday party 2018 Holiday Party 2018