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Our History

In 1921 the University of Cincinnati was searching for a new head of surgery who would create a world-class surgical section. The position was originally offered to Walter Dandy, MD, of Johns Hopkins, who declined. It was then offered to George Heuer, MD, who accepted and became the first Christian R. Holmes Professor of Surgery (1922-1931). In what became known as the “Hopkins Invasion,” Heuer brought the William Halsted method of surgical residency training to Cincinnati, along with several of Halsted’s residents.

At the time, surgical specialties were not sufficiently developed to stand apart from general surgery or train their own residents. Halsted’s revolutionary residency program set the precedent for surgical training in the U.S. Initially, a prospective resident completed an internship of undefined length. After internship, the residency consisted of six years as assistant resident, followed by two years as house surgeon. The assistant residency period was further subdivided into clinical and research years.

UC became the third postgraduate surgical training program in the U.S., joining the Johns Hopkins and the Peter Bent Brigham hospitals.

In 1937 Joseph Evans, MD, and Frank H. Mayfield, MD, were final candidates for a new position to head the neurosurgery division within the UC Department of Surgery. Mont Reid selected Evans for the academic post. Mayfield was about to return home when Sister Theodora offered him a position to start neurosurgery services at Good Samaritan Hospital. He accepted and began his community-based practice. Evans and Mayfield became close personal and professional friends.

In 1948 Evans established the first neurosurgery residency program at UC. In collaboration with Mayfield, the program was expanded with the addition of neurosurgery departments at Christ Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital. Evans is best known for his research in head injury, and his research team was one of the first to record intracranial pressure continuously and to quantify the relationship between ICP and cerebral blood flow.

In 1954 Evans was succeeded by Robert L. McLaurin, MD, who is best known for his interest in head injury and pediatric neurosurgery. McLaurin established and directed pediatric neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital and was a founder and chairman of the AANS/CNS Pediatric Neurosurgery Section.

As the neurosurgical program grew and developed, Cincinnati became identified as a center of excellence in neurological surgery. In 1977, Dr. Mayfield passed the torch of leadership to John M. Tew Jr., MD.

In 1983, Tew was appointed professor and chairman of the Division of Neurosurgery at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. As chairman of two neurosurgical residency programs, Tew was in a unique position. Understanding the needs of the community and the historical development of neurosurgery in Cincinnati, Tew moved to merge the two programs, reasoning that both the community and the discipline could best be served by combining the strengths of each program.

Unification was achieved in 1984, when the Division of Neurosurgery was granted departmental status and Tew was appointed professor and chairman.

In 2002 Tew passed the torch of leadership to Raj K. Narayan, MD, who is best known for his interest in traumatic brain injury. Under his leadership the residency program was expanded to three residents per year; the clinical trials program was expanded; and a neurocriticial care program was established at University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

In 2009 Mario Zuccarello, MD, assumed leadership upon Narayan's departure. Dr. Zuccarello is internationally known for his surgical skill and research interests in cerebrovascular surgery. Under Zuccarello’s leadership, several significant NIH research studies have come to UC, including COSS, MISTIE and CREST.

The affiliation of the University of Cincinnati Department of Neurosurgery and Mayfield Clinic ended in 2017.  As of July, 2017, Joseph Cheng, MD, MS, became the first UCP neurosurgeon to serve as the Frank H. Mayfield Professor and Chairman.  Cheng’s clinical focus includes all aspects of spinal surgery such as treating degenerative disease, deformities, trauma, tumors and spinal cord injury. He has a national reputation as an expert in complex spinal surgery.  His research activities have been in areas of clinical outcomes and health policy, spinal biomechanics, modeling of spinal motion, properties of bone healing, spinal reconstruction and instrumentation and minimally invasive spinal techniques

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231 Albert Sabin Way
PO Box 670515
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0515

Mailing Address
University of Cincinnati
College of Medicine
Department of Neurosurgery
PO Box 670515
Cincinnati Ohio 45267-0515