Brad Zacharia, MD, MS, assistant professor of neurosurgery, is seen in the operating room in 2015. He is wearing a mask, hair covering and scrubs.

Department of Neurosurgery

Neurosurgery at Penn State College of Medicine

The mission of the Department of Neurosurgery is to provide the highest quality care, to improve patient care through excellence in biomedical research, and to educate and train the future academic and community leaders in American brain and spinal surgery.

Penn State College of Medicine's Department of Neurosurgery is dedicated to providing the highest quality neurosurgical care possible. The department offers a range of state-of-the-art care to referring physicians and their patients, including Gamma Knife radiosurgery, deep brain stimulation, neurotrauma and critical care, neurosurgical oncology, pediatric neurosurgery and more.

The department aims to provide the highest quality, most state-of-the-art, most patient-centered care possible for a number of conditions, including brain, spine and peripheral nerve tumors; concussion; epilepsy; movement disorders; stroke and brain hemorrhage; and traumatic brain, spine and nerve injuries.

Robert E. Harbaugh, MD, FACS, FAHA, is Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Penn State College of Medicine. He is pictured in a white dress shirt, blue tie and white medical coat against a blue background.
Robert E. Harbaugh, MD, FACS, FAHA, Chair, Neurosurgery

As part of its commitment to innovation in the practice of neurosurgery, the department places a strong emphasis on research in developing the next new treatment for tumors of the nervous system, repairing nerve damage and surgical approaches through clinical and basic science research. This includes clinical trials, clinically-based research, preclinical and translational research.

Meanwhile, the department strives to educate the neurosurgeons of the future through electives for MD students and a comprehensive seven-year, ACGME-accredited neurosurgery residency.

Robert E. Harbaugh, MD, FACS, FAHA
Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Neurosurgery
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More about Neurosurgery @ Penn State

Education in the Department of Neurosurgery

Education in the Department of Neurosurgery provides training at all levels of practice.

Medical students can take part in electives and acting internships that introduce them to the basic and intermediate principles of evaluating and managing patients with neurosurgical disease, or join a 3+7 neurosurgery accelerated pathway that provides early entry into residency.

The seven-year ACGME-accredited neurosurgery residency also has six fellowships - endovascular, functional, neurocritical care, neuro-oncology, peripheral nerve and spine - accredited by the Society of Neurological Surgeons’ Committee for Advanced Subspecialty Training and offered only as enfolded fellowships to internal residents.

For practitioners, the department helps to organize a number of continuing medical education opportunities each year.

Research in the Department of Neurosurgery

In addition to exceptional clinical training, the department is known for its robust neuroscience research program in neurosurgery.

Eight full-time research faculty members have ongoing programs in a wide range of areas, including neural engineering, a joint program between Penn State Neurosurgery and Penn State Engineering Science and Mechanics that explores brain-computer interfacing.

The research group also has expertise and a body of published work in drug development and improvement, improved imaging methods, using nanotechnology to improve nerve regrowth, pioneering approaches for brain aneurysm treatment through neurosurgery, and more. Investigators have become national leaders in studies on quality of life for both patients and their caregivers.

Penn State Health Neurosurgery has more than $8,000,000 in active grants and ranks among the highest neurosurgery departments in NIH funding nationwide. It also maintains a vigorous clinical research program with a well-developed clinical trials group. More than 40 investigator-initiated or industry-sponsored clinical studies are underway.

Recent Publications

Clinical Care in the Department of Neurosurgery

More than 20 full-time clinical faculty members in the Department of Neurosurgery perform about 4,000 neurosurgical procedures per year, including endovascular and radiosurgical cases.

Nationally recognized and fellowship-trained neurosurgery faculty members provide care in all areas of neurosurgery, including Gamma Knife surgery, deep brain stimulation, dorsal root ganglion stimulation therapy, endovascular and vascular neurosurgery, epilepsy surgery, functional neurosurgery, neuro-oncology and skull base surgery, neurocritical care, neurotrauma, pediatric neurosurgery, peripheral nerve surgery, radiosurgery and spine surgery.

Nearly all of the department's neurosurgeons have been recognized as being in the top three percent of neurosurgeons nationally by Best Doctors in America. Several specialists have been recognized as being in the top one percent by America’s Top Doctors.

Jobs in Neurosurgery

Information on jobs that may be available in the Department of Neurosurgery can be found at psu.jobs (for non-clinical positions) or careers.pennstatehealth.org (for clinical positions). All applications must be made through those sites.