About the Program
The Neurosurgery department offers four fellowship positions in neurosurgical oncology, plus one fellowship position dedicated to skull base surgery, beginning July 1 of each year.
The overall goal is to train young neurosurgeons to become academic neurosurgical oncologists who are highly skilled and knowledgeable surgeons. The program was established in 1991 and has trained more than 80 fellows, who currently practice throughout the world.
Fellows will learn from our exemplary team of clinical and research faculty members.
2020-2021 Fellowship Class
Cristopher Alvarez-Breckenridge, M.D., Ph.D.
Rasheed Zakaria, M.D., Ph.D.
Matthew Shephard, M.D.
Joel Passer, M.D. – Skull Base Fellow
Chibawayne Ene, M.D. – Research Fellow
Neurosurgery clinical faculty members are widely recognized for their expertise in primary and metastatic brain tumor surgery, pituitary adenoma surgery, cranial base surgery, spinal reconstructive surgery, surgical procedures for pain management, pediatric neurosurgery and stereotactic surgery. The department performs over 1,900 brain, spine and skull base surgeries each year.
Our unique surgical expertise allows us to offer fellows exposure to all aspects of neurosurgical oncology, including:
- The surgery of primary and metastatic brain tumors
- Surgery of primary and metastatic spinal tumors and reconstruction
- Trans-sphenoidal surgery
- Skull base surgery
- Surgical treatment of pain
- Advanced brain mapping techniques
- Endoscopic neurosurgery
- Pediatric neurosurgery
- Intraoperative MRI
- Proton Beam Therapy
- Brain (Gamma Knife) and Spinal Stereotactic Radiosurgery
Fellows will also have access to a new Microsurgical and Endoscopic Center for Clinical Applications (MECCA) Laboratory, a multidisciplinary state-of-the-art cadaveric and animal surgical lab for education, training and research.
The Department of Neurosurgery has developed a world-class clinical research program to manage all aspects of neurosurgical oncology, including complex brain and skull-base tumors, spinal tumors and intractable, cancer-related pain disorders. Our basic and applied research programs are also regarded as premier programs with expert faculty that work closely with physician-scientists to integrate laboratory discoveries with clinical observations.
Ongoing research projects include:
- Management strategies for brain metastasis
- Mechanisms of inducing immunity against human brain tumors
- The mechanism of cell death and differentiation of neural stem cells after radiation
- Molecular mechanisms of glioma and brain metastasis
- Oncolytic viral therapy for glioblastoma
In addition, we are proud to be one of the few cancer centers in the nation to house a prestigious federally-funded Brain Cancer SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) program. Enabling us to offer a range of clinical trials, many of which are available at only a few centers in the country.
In 2013, we expanded the Neurosurgical Oncology Fellowship to include a dedicated year in skull base neurosurgery. Under the guidance of Franco DeMonte, M.D., and working with Shaan Raza, M.D., trainees are exposed to the multidisciplinary care of patients with a variety of pathologies unique to the skull base. The fellows work closely with colleagues in Head and Neck Surgery, Neuro-Otology, Ophthalmology, Plastic Surgery, and Medical and Radiation Oncology. Their experience centers on problem-focused decision making, the acquisition and refinement of advanced surgical techniques, as well as study of the complex anatomy of the region. They are trained in technically challenging open procedures as well as minimally invasive and endoscopic surgeries. It is a unique program due to the high volume of patients seen at MD Anderson with skull base malignancies as well as the more commonly seen benign tumors of the skull base. This has quickly become one of the premier fellowship training programs focusing on the neurosurgical management of skull base neoplasia.
Applicants should have completed or be nearing completion of a board accredited residency program in neurosurgery. Minority and female applicants are strongly encouraged to apply. Use our DISCOVER online application system to apply for the 2023-2024 fellowship in Neurosurgical Oncology. The deadline to apply is September 15, 2021. Inside the DISCOVER system:
- Click on “How Do I Apply?"
- Go to area 1) Physician-in-Training program > GME Residency/Fellowship
- Click the DISCOVER system link
- Follow instructions to sign up and create an account, using the following information:
- Position: Physician-in-Training Programs
- Academic year: 2023-2024
- Division Name: Surgery > Neurosurgical Oncology
- Click Apply now
MD Anderson Cancer Center is located in Houston, in the Texas Medical Center, which boasts:
- The finest in medical education and treatment
- Numerous parks, including Hermann Park which has an outdoor theater and large zoo
- An academic and cultural arena that includes Baylor College of Medicine, Rice and St. Thomas Universities, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Arts
- Close proximity to Houston's noted symphony orchestra, opera, theater and ballet.
Other sites of various activities available within a few minutes' drive include Moody Gardens, Sam Houston Race Park, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, SplashTown Waterpark, Downtown Aquarium, Space Center Houston, Lone Star Flight Museum, San Jacinto Battlefield, NRG Stadium, Minute Maid Park, Toyota Center and the George R. Brown Convention Center. For more information, go to Visit Houston. The cost of living is moderate and housing is very reasonable.
Shaan M. Raza, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Director of Training
Neurosurgery, Unit 442
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
1515 Holcombe Blvd.
Houston, Texas 77030
Since the Neurosurgical Oncology Fellowship was established in 1991, we have trained more than 80 fellows, who currently practice around the world. The Skull Base Tumor Fellowship was established in 2013 and all fellows who have graduated from the program have gone on to careers at highly respected academic medical centers. Learn more about our recent and faculty alumni below.
- Tiffany Hodges, M.D. Current Affiliation: University Hospitals at Cleveland Medical Center, Ohio
- Ali Jalali, M.D., Ph.D. Current Affiliation: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
- Wajd Al-Holou, M.D. Current Affiliation: Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan
- Richard Everson, M.D. Current Affiliation: UCLA, Los Angeles, California
- Jacob Freeman, M.D. (Skull Base Fellow) Current Affiliation: Ocala Neurosurgical Center, Ocala, Florida
- Sarah Garber, M.D. Current Affiliation: University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah
- Peleg Horowitz, M.D., Ph.D. (Skull Base Fellow) Current Affiliation: The University of Chicago Medicine, Illinois
- Jonathan Thomas, M.D. Current Affiliation: Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Brian Williams, M.D. Current Affiliation: University of Louisville, Kentucky
- Edjah Nduom, M.D. (2013-2015) Current Affiliation: National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
- Vincent DiNapoli, M.D., Ph.D. (Skull Base Fellow) Current Affiliation: University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
- Salvatore Zavarella, D.O. Current Affiliation: Long Island Neurological and Pain Specialists, West Islip, New York
- Michael Dirks, M.D., U.S. Army, Bethesda, Maryland
- Yan Michael Li, M.D., Ph.D., University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York
- Rohan Ramikrishna, M.D., Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell University, New York, New York
- Shaan Raza, M.D. (Skull Base Fellow), MD Anderson, Houston, Texas
- Betty Y.S. Kim, M.D., Ph.D. (Skull Base Fellow), Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Florida
- Tal Shahar, M.D. (2011-2013), Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
- Adrian Harvey, D.O., Maricopa Medical Center, Phoenix, Arizona
- Nick Marko, M.D., Geisinger Health System, Danville, Pennsylvania
- Mateo Ziu, M.D., Seton Brain and Spine Institute, Austin, Texas
Several members of our own faculty came from the Neurosurgical Oncology Fellowship Program. Faculty alumni include:
- Frederick Lang, M.D. (1995-1996)
- Jeffrey Weinberg, M.D. (2000-2001)
- Sujit Prabhu, M.D. (2001-2003)
- Claudio Tatsui, M.D. (2006-2008)
- Betty Kim, M.D., Ph.D. (2011-2013)
- Shaan Raza, M.D. (2013-2014)
MD Anderson Cancer Center is committed to encouraging good health and staying true to our mission to end cancer. If you are applying for a GME fellowship or residency program starting on or after July 1, 2016, please be advised that MD Anderson will have instituted a tobacco-free hiring process as part of its efforts to achieve these goals. If you are offered an appointment, you will be subject to a Pre-Employment Drug Screen for tobacco compounds in compliance with applicable state laws. If you do not pass the urine drug screening which includes testing for tobacco compounds, you CANNOT be appointed at MD Anderson. Should you fail to meet this contingency, MD Anderson will withdraw your offer of appointment for the academic year. You may reapply for the following academic year, but there are no guarantees that you will be offered a position as many of our programs are already filled for several years out.