1. History of Barrow Neurological Institute

  2. 1950

    Seeds of a Partnership

    Charles Barrow, a coal magnate, donates a electroencephalography (EEG) machine to St. Joseph’s Hospital and the Sisters of Mercy.

    Black and white portrait of charles barrow
  3. 1958

    Barrow Neurological Institute Founded

    Charles Barrow, a coal magnate, made an initial donation of $500,000 to found Barrow Neurological Institute after Dr. John Green extended the life of his wife, Julia, who had a malignant brain tumor. He made the donation in the name of his father, William H. Barrow.

    Barrow Neurological Institute Founded in 1958
  4. 1960

    Barrow Neurosurgery Residency Program Accredited

    The Barrow Neurosurgery Residency Program received accreditation from the American Board of Neurosurgery. “Barrow was, at that time, the only residency not associated with a university,” Dr. Volker Sonntag said. “So that was a huge accomplishment for Dr. Green.” In this photo, actor Vincent Edwards (left) is pictured with Barrow’s first neurosurgical resident, Dr. David Scheetz.

    Barrow doctors in 1961
  5. 1961

    Barrow Gets a Home

    Construction begins on the state-of-the-art Barrow Neurological Institute building. The building now houses the Heart and Lung Tower of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. The photo above was taken at the new building’s dedication in 1962.

    Barrow group photo in 1961
  6. 1962

    Barrow opens its doors

    Sept. 23, 1962: Barrow opened its doors to patients with one neurosurgical operating room and 52 beds. It was one of only three neuroscience institutes in the entire country. It had five divisions: neurology, neurosurgery, neuroradiology, neurobiology, and neuropathology.

    Newspaper article 1962
  7. 1970

    Level 1 Trauma Center

    In 1972 Barrow and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center were designated as Arizona’s first Level 1 Trauma Center.

    Level 1 Trauma Center
  8. 1975

    CT Scanner

    Barrow Installs 1st CT Scanner in Phoenix

    Barrow's first CT Scanner
  9. 1979

    Neurorehabilitation Center Launched

    The center has continued to expand ever since.

    Woman receiving rehab treatment
  10. 1980

    Dr. Robert F. Spetzler Joins Barrow

    In 1986, Dr. Spetzler would succeed Dr. John Green as Director of Barrow Neurological Institute.

    Dr. Robert Spetzler during surgery at Barrow
  11. 1983

    Refining Cardiac Standstill Procedure

    Dr. Robert Spetzler and Dr. Joseph Zabramski refine this radical procedure, which involves inducing hypothermia, stopping the heart, and removing blood from the patient, allows neurosurgeons to treat previously inoperable lesions in the brain.

    Doctors at Barrow analyzing results from computer
  12. 1985

    BNI Quarterly

    Dr. Robert Spetzler established the BNI Quarterly, the official journal of Barrow.

    1985 image of brain
  13. 1986

    Dr. John Green Retires

    Dr. John Green Retires as director of Barrow and is succeeded by Dr. Robert Spetzler.

    black and white photo of barrow surgeon
  14. 1987

    America’s Brain Trust Event

    Barrow celebrates its 25th anniversary by sponsoring the America’s Brain Trust event. The forum consisted of President Gerald Ford, Vice President Walter Mondale, and Henry Kissinger.

    America's first brain trust event
  15. 1987

    Papal Visit

    Pope John Paul II Visits Barrow and St. Joseph’s. Barrow was the only hospital visited by the Pope on his tour of the United States.

    Pope John Paull II at Barrow
  16. 1988

    First Lady Nancy Reagan

    First Lady Nancy Reagan dedicates the Dr. Loyal and Edith Davis Neurological Research Laboratory. Nancy Reagan’s father, Dr. Loyal Davis, was one of the first neurosurgeons at Barrow.

    Nancy Reagan at Barrow
  17. 1989

    “Internal Decapitation”

    Dr. Volker Sonntag Successfully Treats “Internal Decapitation.” Barrow and Dr. Volker Sonntag make international headlines with the successful reattachment of the skull of a boy whose skull was severed from his spine.

    Amazing internal decapitation treatment
  18. 1990

    Thoracoscopic Spinal Surgery

    Dr. Curtis Dickman Pioneers Thoracoscopic Spinal Surgery. Dr. Dickman devises a method of operating on the spine using endoscopic tools through small incisions in the chest.

    Thorascoscopic Spinal Surgery
  19. 1994

    First Celebrity Fight Night Held

    The first annual Celebrity Fight Night is held. The star-studded event has raised funds for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow since its inception.

    First celeb fight night
  20. 1997

    Neuroscience Research Tower Opens

    A $40-million Neuroscience Research Center, now known as the Marian H. Rochelle Neuroscience Research Center, opens on the Barrow Campus.

    Neuroscience Towers at Barrow Neurological Institute
  21. 1997

    The Champ Teams with Barrow

    The Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute is founded.

    Muhammad Ali "The Champ"
  22. 1999

    Cavernous Malformations

    Barrow researchers, led by Dr. Joseph Zabramski and Dr. Eric Johnson, identify the gene that causes the inherited form of cerebral cavernous malformations.

    Dr. Joseph Zabramski and Dr Eric Johnson
  23. 2000

    Dr. James Pipe Creates Propeller MRI

    Dr. James Pipe at Barrow creates the new Propeller Method to assemble MRI scan images. The new method allows clinicians to obtain clear MRI images regardless of patient motion.

    Dr. James Pipe
  24. 2003

    Hypothalamic Hamartoma Program

    Barrow opens the nation’s first Hypothalamic Hamartoma (HH) program, successfully removing the devastating brain tumor from hundreds of children from all over the world.

    greyscale illustration
  25. 2005

    Eller Telepresence Conference Room Opens

    Barrow installs the nation’s first Med Presence video-conferencing unit, facilitating real-time global consultations during surgery.

    Eller Telepresence Conference Room
  26. 2006

    Neuroscience Tower Opens

    The 430,000 square foot Barrow Neuroscience Tower opens, creating the largest neuroscience center in the nation. It houses some of the most advanced operating rooms in the world.

    Neuroscience Tower Opens
  27. 2007

    Dr. Spetzler’s 5,000th Aneurysm Procedure

    Dr. Robert Spetzler clips his 5,000th aneurysm, believed to be the most of any neurosurgeon in the world.

    Dr. Spetzler’s 5,000th Aneurysm Procedure
  28. 2009

    Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center Expands

    The expansion makes the center the largest center for Parkinson’s disease treatment and outreach in the Southwestern United States.

    Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center Expands
  29. 2010

    Using Artificial Intelligence to Fight ALS

    Barrow Professor of Neurobiology Dr. Robert Bowser uses IBM’s Watson for Drug Discovery to identify five genes that had never before been linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

    Using Artificial Intelligence to Fight ALS
  30. 2017

    Dr. Michael Lawton Named President and CEO

    Dr. Lawton spent his seven-year medical residency training at Barrow under Dr. Spetzler and went on to build a prominent cerebrovascular service in California. He returned to Barrow to succeed Dr. Spetzler after an extensive national search.

    Dr. Lawton and Dr. Spetzler
  31. 2018

    Redefining Spine Surgery with Surgical Robot

    Barrow neurosurgeons begin performing spinal fusion surgeries with the Globus Medical ExcelsiusGPS. Developed at Barrow, the device utilizes navigation technology, imaging, and robotics to increase precision and reduce recovery times.

    New Surgical Robot
  32. 2019

    Dr. Francisco Ponce performs his 1000th DBS Procedure

    Neurosurgeon Francisco Ponce, MD, performs his 1000th deep brain stimulation (DBS) procedure.

    Ponce performs his 1000th DBS Procedure
  33. 2020

    Neuroplex Opens

    Fulfilling Dr. Robert Spetzler’s dream of a grand entry for Barrow, the Neuroplex will house our Department of Neurosurgery, an ambulatory surgery center, a pre-admission center for neurosurgery, a neuro-infusion suite, and the neuro-oncology, stroke, and neuro-endocrinrology divisions of our Department of Neurology.

    the barrow neuroplex at night
  34. 2021

    Franke Global Neuroscience Education Center

    Bill and Carolyn Franke create $21 million endowment funding global neuroscience education programs at Barrow.

    Bill Franke signs endowment
  35. 2022

    Construction Begins on Ivy Brain Tumor Center Headquarters

    With five stories and 75,000 square feet of research, clinical trial, and patient care space, the new building will be the largest brain tumor translational research center in the world. 

    rending of the ivy brain tumor center
  36. 2022

    Dr. Brad A. Racette Named Chair of Neurology

    Recruited from St. Louis, Missouri by Dr. Lawton, Dr. Racette takes the helm of the Department of Neurology at Barrow. His vision includes establishing a premier program in data science, positioning the department as a leader in global health training and health equity, and expanding the department’s portfolio of federally funded clinical research.

    barrow neurology chair brad racette in the lobby of the neuroplex
  37. 2024

    Neuro Analytics Center Opens

    The center uses data science to find new insights into the full spectrum of neurological diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases, vascular diseases, headache and pain disorders, epilepsy, neuroinflammatory disorders, and malignant brain tumors.

    common area in the barrow neuro analytics center


To advance the knowledge and practice of medicine in neuroscience through basic and clinical research, education of medical professionals, and innovation in clinical techniques and technology.