Department of Neurosurgery

Providing comprehensive care for cerebrovascular conditions, epilepsy, cancer, spinal abnormalities, chronic pain,
and movement disorders.

Department of Neurosurgery

Providing comprehensive care for cerebrovascular conditions, epilepsy, cancer, spinal abnormalities, chronic pain,
and movement disorders.


The Department of Neurosurgery provides comprehensive care for cerebrovascular conditions, epilepsy, cancer, spinal abnormalities, chronic pain, and movement disorders. The neurosurgical team is also at the forefront of pediatric neurosurgery with three pediatric neurosurgeons. RNI neurosurgeons are leaders in robotic technology, minimally invasive procedures, laser ablation, and focused ultrasound. In three years, our team has grown to become a national destination for complex surgeries, and expanded research infrastructure for innovations in technology.


Joe Runels
Pediatric Epilepsy Patient

Joe Runels, age 17, and his family traveled from Georgia to the RNI for treatment of his drug-resistant epilepsy. During his laser thermal ablation surgery, a surgical robot placed electrodes into his brain to identify where his seizures originated. Then the surgical team precisely placed a small laser fiber to the epileptic brain tissue, and ablated it without opening the skull. Joe was discharged from the hospital the day after his successful procedure.




The WVU team has become a world leader in non-invasive focused ultrasound procedures for essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease. The team is also pioneering innovative research with first-in-the-U.S. clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease and addiction.



As the first site in the U.S. to treat a glioblastoma patient with intra-operative radiotherapy (IORT), WVU is a national leader for brain tumor cases, allowing for immediate radiation after surgery. Christopher P. Cifarelli, MD, PhD, has been published in peer-reviewed journals and developed an international IORT patient registry.



WVU Medicine – Berkeley Medical Center recently became the first hospital in West Virginia to acquire the Surgical Theater Precision Virtual Reality® platform. This technology utilizes virtual and augmented reality, creating a reconstructed, 360° VR model, based on imaging. Jonathan H. Sherman, MD, says the Surgical Theater gives patients a better understanding of the location of their tumor and how the surgical team will safely resect it.


Don Wahl’s essential tremor caused involuntary shaking that prevented him from working as a mechanic, or even feeding himself. After High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), to the deep brain structure of the thalamus, Don was immediately tremor-free.


The WVU Department of Neurosurgery offers two fellowship training programs. Each is nationally accredited by the Committee on Advanced Subspecialty Training (CAST).

The one-year Stereotactic and Functional Fellowship provides an intensive surgical experience in all areas of functional and stereotactic neurosurgery, combined with collaborative clinical and didactic training in neurology, psychology, psychiatry, neurophysiology, and radiology.

The WVU Department of Neuroradiology, in conjunction with the Department of Neurosurgery, offers a CAST-certified fellowship in Neurointerventional Surgery or Endovascular Neurosurgery. The duration of the fellowship is one to two years, depending on the applicant’s previous training and experience.



“I chose the RNI because it rewards creativity and offers a chance to help build something special. I feel empowered to pursue projects which elevate the quality of neurosurgical care, particularly the children, of West Virginia. The field of neurosurgery is challenging but incredibly rewarding, and I aim to show young women it is not only possible, but natural, to pursue a career in the field. The RNI provides the culture and support to accomplish that.”


Ashley Mears Headshot

“In 2017, the opioid epidemic was declared a national public health emergency. With West Virginia being a lead contributor, it is estimated that around 130 people die per day in our country from an overdose. As someone who has personally seen the consequences that addiction inflicts on individuals and families, the decision to join the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) was easy. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the innovations that could change the way we treat addiction and many other neurologic disorders. More importantly, I am confident that the team here at the RNI will be part of the reason we start reversing this challenging statistic for all Americans.”

Clinical Research Practitioner, Neuromodulation


“The RNI has provided me with the opportunity to grow as surgeon and educator. The RNI offers unique collaboration between ophthalmology, ENT, radiation oncology, neuro-oncology, and neuroradiology. We focus on providing minimally invasive, patient-specific plans to provide the best possible outcomes with quality of life as the focus. The RNI has established this team to provide world-class and comprehensive care to the patients of West Virginia who require complex cranial interventions.”

Assistant Professor, Neurosurgery

Ashley Mears Headshot

“Working at the RNI allows me to deliver high-quality, cutting-edge care to the people of West Virginia and beyond. Working here has allowed me to further the care of patients with epilepsy, movement disorders, stroke, traumatic brain injury and many other conditions of the nervous system. The incredible culture of innovation, collegiality, and patient care make this a wonderful place to work. “

Assistant Professor, Neurosurgery