History of the Department of Neurological Surgery
The Department started in 1948 as the (one-person) Division of Neurosurgery directed by Dr Arthur A Ward, Jr. at the new UW School of Medicine. Dr. Ward was a recent graduate of Yale Medical School who developed a strong interest in epilepsy surgery while working with Wilder Penfield as a resident at the Montreal Neurologic Institute. His vision was to combine neurosurgical research and clinical activities with a focus on interdisciplinary treatment of epilepsy. In addition, the Division began a neurosurgery residency training program which remains a national leader today.
In 1965, the Division become a full Department and began to attract substantial NIH funding. Principal accomplishments included establishing the NIH sponsored Regional Epilepsy Center at Harborview and a basic science Epilepsy Research Program Project at the University. In addition to providing innovative multidisciplinary patient care, these programs integrated research projects involving 6 Schools, 18 University departments or divisions, 33 investigators and 45 support staff.
Following Dr. Ward’s retirement in 1981, Department leadership passed to H. Richard Winn, MD, and research and clinical care interests broadened to include cerebrovascular disease with a clinical and research emphasis on aneurysm repair, spine surgery and traumatic brain injury (TBI). New funding came with NIH sponsorship of research in basic mechanisms of cerebrovascular disease, head injury seizure prophylaxis and an NIH Head and Spinal Cord Injury Center grant. In addition to basic science research in injury mechanisms, stem cell biology and epilepsy research, important clinical advances were introduced including Gamma Knife and endovascular procedures.
Dr. Richard Ellenbogen became Chairman in 2004 and brought additional surgical competencies and research interests to the program. The tradition of resident training excellence has continued and we now offer additional fellowship opportunities, including summer internships to college and high school students interested in neuroscience and medicine. Clinical and research involvement with other University Departments and Seattle Children’s has grown significantly. Department faculty exercise leadership roles in the Seattle Children’s Center for Integrative Brain Research and in the UW Medicine Neuroscience Institute.
We have expanded clinically, especially in minimally invasive procedures such as endoscopic surgery, endovascular coiling of cerebral aneurysms, spine surgery, and movement disorders through implantable electrodes and deep brain stimulation. We helped found the Seattle Sports Concussion Program and Harborview has added new buildings to house state-of-the-art trauma and neuro ICUs along with neurosurgery outpatient facilities and Departmental main office space in the new Ninth and Jefferson Building.
In addition to our traditional areas of research excellence, new projects have been funded in neuroprotection, brain tumor research including imaging and use of nanoparticles, an NIH sponsored Research Core Neuroproteomics facility, and multi-disciplinary research on Brain Computer Interfaces to control robotic neuro- prosthetic limbs. We are conducting research in brain injury including international studies of TBI monitoring, research on concussion, clinical trials on hypothermia for pediatric TBI and DOD research on TBI/PTSD, as well as invention of new medical pathway devices such as flexible robotically controlled endoscopes and diagnostic tools such as portable ultrasonic brain imaging devices.
Dr. Ellenbogen gave a recent report to the Medical School Executive Committee on our current activities in the field. His presentation slides give a feel for the dynamic growth in Neurological Surgery over the past 10 years. Please click anywhere on the slide to enlarge the presentation below. The slideshow will start with approximately 7 seconds between slides. The < || > buttons allow one to pause or go forward or back through the slides.
History of Harborview Medical Center
Harborview Medical Center began as a six-bed King County welfare hospital in a two-story South Seattle building in 1877. By 1906, the hospital had moved into a new building in Georgetown with room for 225 patient beds.
Another move occurred in 1931, when the center wing of the present hospital was completed, and King County Hospital's name was changed to Harborview.
Today, Harborview is a leading academic medical center that houses several centers of emphasis. Harborview is well-known as a patient care facility that also excels in teaching and discovery.
University of Washington School of Medicine
Opened in 1946, The School of Medicine is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in medical education, patient care, and scientific research. US News & World Report ranks us among the best medical schools in the nation, and first for primary care. The School of Medicine is the second largest in the nation with more than 1,300 faculty members, and serves as a regional medical resource for the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho.
The University of Washington
The University of Washington was founded in 1861 on a ten-acre knoll in what is now downtown Seattle, and moved to its present 660-acre site on the shores of Lake Washington in 1895. The University offers instruction in more than 200 academic disciplines to more than 34,000 students.
In the News
Dr. Silbergeld is the Arthur A. Ward Jr. professor of neurological surgery at the UW Medical Center. He is also an adjunct professor of pathology.
Make a Gift
Support the Department of Neurological Surgery by
Your donation will help support patient- and family-centered care, breakthroughs in medical research, and the training of tomorrow's physicians.