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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine is establishing a new Department of Neurosurgery, effective July 1, 2010.

The new department will be chaired by Matthew G. Ewend, MD, who currently serves as chief of the Division of Neurosurgery within the Department of Surgery. Neurosurgery has been a division of the Department of Surgery since its creation in 1952. However, recent growth in neurosurgery at UNC has lead to a wider role in the Health Care System; these responsibilities are best served by elevating Neurosurgery to departmental status.

“Since 2005, our neurosurgery program has grown from three faculty members to 10 and our clinical volume has increased by more than 75 percent, from about 900 surgical cases a year to more than 1,700. UNC neurosurgeons now cover both UNC Hospitals and the First Health Hospital in Pinehurst,” Ewend said. Ewend leads the neuro-oncology program for UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The creation of the Department of Neurosurgery is closely timed to the opening of the UNC Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit, slated to open in mid May 2010, and the completion of the UNC Imaging and Spine Center Building. “These two initiatives, coupled with our growth to a department, will increase our ability to treat the people of North Carolina who suffer from neurologic problems. In addition to clinical growth, establishing the new Department of Neurosurgery will enable us to improve our educational and research programs to be among the best in the country,” Ewend said.

To most neurosurgery patients at UNC, this change will not be noticeable, Ewend said. But having departmental status for neurosurgery will give UNC a boost in recruiting new faculty members and residents and in retaining existing neurosurgery faculty, and these changes will in turn enhance patient care, he said.

In addition, the move is consistent with a nationwide trend. At more than 80 percent of academic medical centers that offer neurosurgery residencies, the neurosurgery group is housed administratively within its own department, Ewend said.

At UNC, the Department of Neurosurgery will be the first new department created in the School of Medicine since the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, which is co-located at UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University, was established on Dec. 1, 2003.

Media contact:
Tom Hughes or (919) 966-6047