Research Opportunities

Residency Training Program

Information Resources for Medical Students and Others Interested in Neurosurgery

Research Training :: The Mass General Department of Neurosurgery is a leader in clinical, translational and basic science research. Every neurosurgical attending is engaged in research and works closely with collaborators from Neurooncology, Radiation Oncology, Neuropathology, Neurophysiology, Neurology and the Mass General Cancer and Vascular Centers. Residents pursue research projects with mentors stemming from neurosurgery, and researchers at Mass General, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Broad Institute, Dana Farber Cancer Center and Harvard University.


Research Accomplishments :: The Mass General Department of Neurosurgery has a successful track record with NIH and foundation grants. Our residents are often awarded independent funding and fellowships, including awards from the NIH (NRSA, K08) NREF, ABTA, Parkinson Disease Foundation, American Parkinson Disease Associations, Burroughs Welcome Fund and many others. Numerous residents have had high quality publications in journals such as Science, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Medicine, Cancer Discovery, New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neurosurgery and Neurosurgery, among many others. The department has also been awarded the prestigious R25 training grant by the NIH to support the resident research years.


The clinical faculty, most of whom have a significant research interest, are joined in the department by basic researchers covering a broad spectrum of neurobiology, neurophysiology, and neuropathology. The laboratories within MGH Neurosurgery include the Molecular Neuroscience Laboratory, the Laboratory of Molecular Neurophysiology, Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory, the Center for Nervous System Repair, the Laboratory for Cellular Engineering and the Laboratory for Sensorimotor Integration. See Research @ Neurosurgery for more listings.

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Research Training

Oncolytic Virus

Clinical & Basic Research - Residents lead research projects in collaboration with faculty at MGH, Harvard Medical School and other departments throughout Harvard, MIT, Broad Institute and Dana Farber.

Awards - The department of Neurosurgery is awarded several million annually in NIH funding for PI. The residents are frequent recipients of their own fellowships including awards from the NIH (NRSA, K08) NREF, ABTA, Parkinson Disease Foundation, American Parkinson Disease Associations, Burroughs Welcome Fund, and many others. Most recently, we have been awarded a prestigious R25 training grant by the NIH to support residents in their research.

Resources - MGH is the single largest recipient of NIH finding among independent hospitals at over 700 million dollars per year - see the new MGH Research Institute. The department of Neurosurgery has outstanding facilities at the Main Campus, Simches Research Center, and the Charlestown Navy Yard campus. The residency program contains two contiguous and dedicated research years. Residents have reported the experience to be a pivotal period and refer to the research years as a springboard to moving directly into academic careers. Three recent graduates are excellent examples: Manish Aghi, MD a faculty member at UCSF; Ziv Williams MD PhD a faculty member at MGH; and Dan Cahill, MD PhD, a faculty member at MGH.

Areas of Research - Residents at MGH are currently doing research in such varied areas as tumor biology, nervous system repair, viral gene therapy, molecular genetics, behavioral neurophysiology, movement disorders, learning and memory formation, spinal cord injury and repair, health policy, and developing innovative radiological methods of imaging

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Research Stories

MGH Etherdome MM and Rounds

Sameer Sheth, MD, PhD

Spine Rounds with Dr Borges "...My research interests are in functional neurosurgery, including neurophysiology and mapping. As neurosurgeons we have a unique opportunity to study the physiology of the human brain, whether during deep brain stimulation procedures for Parkinson's Disease, or with chronically implanted electrodes in patients with medically intractable epilepsy. My current projects include studying the role of the subthalamic nucleus and nucleus accumbens in decision-making and risk, the role of the cingulate gyrus in contending with cognitive interference, and the role of the pre-frontal cortex in motor planning. Dr. Eskandar's lab also offers the opportunity to study physiology in the controlled model of non-human primates. My primate research centers on neuromodulation and learning enhancement. I am also interested in developing better ways of mapping eloquent cortex intra-operatively. I am developing novel optical imaging techniques to provide high-resolution images of cortical function. MGH provides a unique blend of phenomenal surgical training with unparalleled research opportunities - The opportunities are endless and there is a camaraderie and support from your co-residents, attendings, and the larger Harvard Community that is unbelievable. ..."

Brian Nahed, MD

"...I work at the MGH Cancer Center in the laboratory of Dr. Daniel Haber where we aim to identify and capture circulating tumor cells from glioma patients. In collaboration with Dr. Mehmet Toner and Dr. Maheswaran, we have designed a GBM specific microfluidic device which can isolate tumor cells from whole blood. Until now, methods at identifying circulating tumor cells were laborious and resulted in low yield and purity. However, using this device, we hope to capture and characterize these cells to better understand the mechanisms which lead to spread of gliomas and the relationship with the primary tumor. Through our project, we hope to provide patients and physicians the ability to better monitor disease and ultimately further our understanding to lead to our improved treatment. ...

"...The neurosurgical training at MGH is absolutely phenomenal - Upon completion of your junior residency, you are poised to jump into your lab years and work with leaders in science at Harvard, MIT, Dana Farber, the Broad. The number of resources available and the ease with which collaboration occurs allows for an unparalleled research experience. ..."

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