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  • Nader Sanai, MD

    Neurosurgeon
    (602) 406-3181

    Nader Sanai, MD, is the J.N. Harber Professor of Neurological Surgery and also holds the Francis & Dionne Najafi Chair in Neurosurgical Oncology at Barrow Neurological Institute. As an internationally recognized brain tumor surgeon, his specialty clinical practice is devoted entirely to patients with benign and malignant brain tumors, particularly those in high-risk areas. He is a world expert in using brain mapping techniques to identify and preserve areas of motor, sensory, and language function during surgery. As one of the nation’s highest volume neurosurgical oncologists, Dr. Sanai was elected, in 2016, as the youngest member of the American Academy of Neurological Surgeons, the most respected academic organization in neurosurgery.

    As director of the Ivy Brain Tumor Center, Dr. Sanai oversees all brain tumor research at Barrow Neurological Institute. The Ivy Center includes over 50 scientists, clinicians, and clinical trial specialists and is a world leader in designing experimental treatments for brain cancer. Its precision medicine drug development program pioneered the use of Phase 0 clinical trials to accelerate new drug discovery for incurable brain tumors.

    Dr. Sanai’s brain tumor research efforts are funded by over a dozen external granting agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation. Dr. Sanai is one of only a handful of neurosurgeons in the nation serving as the principal investigator for multiple NIH R01 grants. Collectively, Dr. Sanai’s published research has led to over 15,000 total citations and an h index of 47 – one of the highest for an academic neurosurgeon in the United States, where the median for a department chair is 22.

    Please call (602) 406-3181 to request an appointment with Dr. Sanai.

    Insurance Accepted
    Education & Training
    • 2009-2010: Fellowship, Barrow Neurological Institute, Skull Base Surgery
    • 2007-2009: Postdoctoral Fellowship, UCSF, Neural Stem Cell Biology
    • 2004-2009: Residency, UCSF, Neurosurgery
    • 2003-2004: Internship, UCSF, General Surgery
    • 1998-2003: MD with thesis, UCSF
    • BS with thesis, University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Animal Physiology and Neuroscience, summa cum laude, 1998
    • BA, UCSD, French Literature, summa cum laude, 1998
    Professional Memberships
    • Study Chair, Barrow 5-ALA Intraoperative Confocal Evaluation (BALANCE) Trial
    • Co-Director, Brain Tumor Tissue Bank, Barrow Neurological Institute
    • Member, St. Joseph’s Hospital Cancer Center Executive Council
    • American Association of Cancer Research
    • American Society of Clinical Oncology
    • American Association of Neurological Surgeons
    • Congress of Neurological Surgeons
    • Society for Neuroscience
    • American Brain Tumor Association
    • National Brain Tumor Foundation
    • Associate Editor, BMC Cancer
    • Ad hoc reviewer, The New England Journal of Medicine, Neurosurgery, Journal of Neuro-Oncology, Neuro-Oncology, Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Brain, Annals of Neurology, Frontiers in Neurogenesis, Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery
    Honors and Awards
    • Preuss Award, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, 2010
    • National Brain Tumor Foundation Mahaley Award, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 2010
    • Honorable Mention, 2009 Academy Award, American Academy of Neurological Surgery, 2009
    • Howard Naffziger Resident of the Year Award, UCSF Department of Neurological Surgery, 2009
    • Guest Editor, Neurosurgery Clinics of North America, Neural Stem Cells Issue, 2007
    • Kaiser Award for Clinical Research, San Francisco Neurological Society, 2007
    • Invited Lecturer, Frye-Halloran Symposium on Neuro-Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Neurological Surgery, 2005
    • Edwin F. Boldrey Award for Basic Science Research, San Francisco Neurological Society, 2004
    • Dean’s Research Prize Finalist, UCSF, 1999
    • Medical Scholars Program, UCSF, 1998-2003
    • Senior of the Year, UCSD, 1997
    • Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, 1997-present
    • Provost’s Honors, UCSD, 1994-1998
    • Department of Biology Honors Program, UCSD, 1994-1998
    • Thurgood Marshall College Honors Program, UCSD, 1994-1998
    Selected Publications
    1. Sanai N, Nguyen T, Ihrie RA, Mirzadeh Z, Tsai HH, Wong M, Gupta N, Berger MS, Huang E, Garcia-Verdugo JM, Rowitch DH, Alvarez-Buylla A. Corridors of migrating neurons in the human brain and their decline during infancy. Nature. Sep 28;478(7369):382-6.
    2. Sanai N, Polley MY, McDermott MW, Parsa AT, Berger MS. An extent of resection threshold for newly diagnosed glioblastomas. J Neurosurg. Mar 18 2011.
    3. Sanai N, Sughrue ME, Shangari G, Chung K, Berger MS, McDermott MW. Risk profile associated with convexity meningioma resection in the modern neurosurgical era. J Neurosurg. May 2010;112(5):913-919.
    4. Sanai N, Polley MY, Berger MS. Insular glioma resection: assessment of patient morbidity, survival, and tumor progression. J Neurosurg. Jan 2010;112(1):1-9.
    5. Sanai N, McDermott MW. A modified far-lateral approach for large or giant meningiomas of the posterior fossa. J Neurosurg. May 2010;112(5):907-912.
    6. Sanai N, Mirzadeh Z, Berger MS. Functional outcome after language mapping for glioma resection. N Engl J Med. Jan 3 2008;358(1):18-27.
    7. Sanai N, Berger MS. Glioma extent of resection and its impact on patient outcome. Neurosurgery. Apr 2008;62(4):753-764; discussion 264-756.
    8. Sanai N, Alvarez-Buylla A, Berger MS. Neural stem cells and the origin of gliomas. N Engl J Med. Aug 25 2005;353(8):811-822.
    9. Sanai N, Tramontin AD, Quiñones-Hinojosa A, Barbaro NM, Gupta N, Kunwar S, Lawton MT, McDermott MW, Parsa AT, Manuel-García Verdugo J, Berger MS, Alvarez-Buylla A. Unique astrocyte ribbon in adult human brain contains neural stem cells but lacks chain migration. Nature. Feb 19 2004;427(6976):740-744.

    View complete list of publications on PubMed

    About Barrow Neurological Institute
    Since our doors opened as a regional specialty center in 1962, we have grown into one of the premier destinations in the world for neurology and neurosurgery. Our experienced, highly skilled, and comprehensive team of neurological specialists can provide you with a complete spectrum of care–from diagnosis through outpatient neurorehabilitation–under one roof. Barrow Neurological Institute: Discover. Educate. Heal.