• The Barrow Neuroplex
  • Find a Doctor
  • International Patients
  • Contact Us
  • Patients & Families
  • Education
  • Research
  • Departments & People
  • News & Stories
  • Transfer a Patient
  • Nader Sanai, MD

    (602) 406-3181

    Nader Sanai, MD, is a neurosurgical oncologist who has been internationally recognized for his clinical expertise and research efforts dedicated to the treatment of brain tumors. Dr. Sanai’s clinical practice is devoted entirely to patients with tumors of the brain and spine, including those in high-risk areas. He also has extensive experience using intraoperative mapping to maximize tumor removal while preserving crucial structures controlling motor and language function. Gliomas, meningiomas, metastatic tumors, and complex tumors of the skull base are just some of the tumor types he routinely treats using both operative and radiosurgery techniques.

    As the director of the Barrow Brain Tumor Research Center (BBTRC), Dr. Sanai oversees all clinically directed brain tumor research at Barrow Neurological Institute at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, enabling the program to pioneer new clinical trials for patients with brain tumors. Within the BBTRC, Dr. Sanai also serves as the principal investigator of the stem cell neuro-oncology laboratory, which is funded by over a dozen external granting agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Sanai is one of only a handful of neurosurgeons in the United States serving as the principal investigator of a prestigious NIH R01 grant.

    Dr. Sanai attended the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), where he graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in French literature and a BS in physiology and neuroscience. He obtained his doctorate in medicine at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), where he also completed his residency in neurological surgery. In 2009, Dr. Sanai joined Barrow Neurological Institute to complete a clinical fellowship in skull-base surgery with Robert F. Spetzler, MD. He was then recruited by Dr. Spetzler to join Barrow Neurological Institute as director of neurosurgical oncology.

    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.