Neurosurgery Education & Research

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Our Programs

Our commitment to education includes teaching undergraduate and postgraduate trainees, as well as other health care professionals. Due to our clinical diversity and case volumes, UHN has the largest clinical fellowship program in Canada. On any given day, learners at all levels, including medical students, residents, fellows and observers, can be found in our division. Below is a list of our educational and research programs.

Some education programs at UHN may be suspended or modified at this time. For more information, visit our COVID-19 page.



The University of Toronto offers Clinical Fellowships in neurosurgery to provide additional specialized clinical and research training to physicians who will be returning to an academic position upon program completion. Fellowships span one to two years and, for UHN, are based at Toronto Western Hospital. During this time, Fellows will be exposed to a mix of cases and may participate in elective rotations, lecture series, journal clubs, institutional rounds and conferences. Some Fellowships may include a research component in addition to the clinical component. The following Fellowship programs based at Toronto Western Hospital are offered by the University.

Cerebrovascular Neurosurgery

The Cerebrovascular Neurosurgery Fellowship is a one- or two-year program that is focused on complex cerebrovascular surgery, with research projects available. Fellows will be exposed to open clipping of aneurysms, AVM and dural arteriovenous malformation surgery, minimally invasive approaches to vascular lesions, revascularization surgery using low-flow and high-flow bypass techniques, and carotid endarterectomy. Dr. Ivan Radovanovic is a UHN surgeon affiliated with this program.

Neurooncology

The Neurooncology Fellowship is a one- to two-year program that provides Fellows with experience in neurooncology. Areas of expertise include intra-axial tumours and skull-base tumours. Expertise is provided in awake craniotomy, outpatient brain tumour surgery, skull base surgery, open endoscopic approaches, pituitary surgery, intra-axial tumours, and genetics/epigenetics of brain tumours. UHN surgeons affiliated with this program include:

Spinal Neurosurgery

The Spinal Neurosurgery Fellowship is a one- or two-year program, which is jointly offered by the orthopedic and neurosurgical programs. Fellows will be broadly exposed to adult spine surgery for both traumatic and non-traumatic conditions as well as spinal deformity. UHN surgeons affiliated with this program include:

Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery and Epilepsy Surgery

The Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery and Epilepsy Surgery Fellowship is a one- or two-year program that is dedicated to the treatment of patients with epilepsy, pain, movement and psychiatric disorders. Fellowship in this area provides a breadth of exposure to functional neurosurgical treatments including technical expertise in open and non-invasive surgical procedures. Fellows will gain expertise in neuromodulation, intrathecal pumps, Gamma Knife radiosurgery, laser interstitial therapy and focused ultrasound. UHN surgeons affiliated with this program include:

Further information on application requirements and procedures as well as other details on all of the Fellowship Programs is provided by the Division of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto and the Michener Institute of Education at UHN.


The University of Toronto offers a Neurosurgery Residency Program to train Medical Students aspiring to become the next generation of neurosurgeons. Toronto Western Hospital at UHN is one of five affiliated teaching hospitals that Residents rotate through. Toronto Western Hospital offers the largest Neurosurgery service in Canada, with distinguishing service in tertiary and quaternary neurosurgical care for patients with complex neurosurgical conditions affecting the brain and spine. Over the course of six or more years, Residents will be trained in the modern medical, surgical and treatment methods. They will be exposed to UHN’s combined neurosurgical and orthopedic spinal program as well as its programs for AVMs and aneurysms, movement disorders, degenerative brain diseases, brain tumours and epilepsy. Resident’s will benefit from the faculty’s expertise in intra-operative navigation and imaging, surgery for peripheral nerve neoplasms, awake craniotomy for brain tumors with cortical mapping, endovascular therapy for aneurysms and AVMs, and stereotactic radiosurgery for tumors and vascular malformations using the Gamma Knife unit.

Residents will be able to apply to the Surgeon Scientist Training Program (SSTP) to complete a Masters or PhD level research project in preparation for an academic career in neurosurgery. Many of these ‘SSTP residents’ are under supervision of UHN faculty.

Residents are evaluated in the clinical setting by their supervisor(s), and are encouraged to develop autonomy and skills that will help them on their path toward independent practice.

Resident education includes didactic teaching sessions with specific topics presented over the duration of their rotation, simulation sessions, oral exam practice sessions, hands-on practical courses, neurosurgery grand rounds, M & M rounds and journal club rounds. In addition, a weekly three-hour session, Brain School, is dedicated to covering all aspects of neurosurgery theory and practice through lectures and case discussions.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of these formal rounds have been shifted to a virtual format.

Daily Teaching

An important focus of our postgraduate resident education program is the daily teaching, which consists of: informal and formal teaching sessions through resident and Faculty as well as fellow interactions on the ward, in the clinic, the operating room, and on-call.

The entire teaching series has been designed to allow important basic and subspecialty neurosurgery lectures to be completed during each resident rotation.

Most of our staff participate in these teaching sessions. To ensure a comprehensive curriculum, we include teaching by our non-physician health care colleagues, where appropriate.

Further information on application requirements and procedures as well as other details on the Residency Program is provided by the Division of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto and the Michener Institute of Education at UHN.

The Residency Site Coordinator for Toronto Western Hospital is Dr. Mojgan Hodaie.


Dr. George Oreopoulos and Dr. Caleb Zavitz
Every year the UHN Department of Surgery hosts a Holiday Fun Rounds in December as an opportunity for the residents, fellows and other staff to show their 'appreciation and affection' for all the surgical staff. In 2019, Vascular Surgery won the award for best rounds presentation. Here, Dr. George Oreopoulos is shown presenting the award to then chief resident Dr. Caleb Zavitz.

Research is integral to many of the educational programs supported by the Division of Neurosurgery. All of the Division’s surgeons lead cutting-edge research programs and have scientific appointments scientists with Krembil Research Institute, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, or the Techna Institute at UHN:






Research areas of interest include neuro-oncology, regenerative medicine, spinal cord injuries, neuropathic pain, neurodegeneration, brain aneurysms, stroke, brain oscillations, and more.

Some of our surgeons hold additional appointments in departments at the University of Toronto beyond their appointments with the Department of Surgery, such as:

For more information on the research being done at UHN and the University of Toronto:


University of Toronto Medical Students

The Division of Neurosurgery has a significant role in Undergraduate Education at the University of Toronto.

The University offers core and elective experience for its undergraduate Medical Students. First- and second-year students have the opportunity to do clinical electives, meet with surgeons, and do summer research projects. Students in their third year can rotate with the Division of Neurosurgery as Clinical Clerks. As Clerks, students will be assigned to a team where they will be integrated into the daily patient care activities. By being in the clinic and operating room as well as participating in rounds, Clerks will be exposed to an overview of the different types of surgical problems and care.

During their rotation, students may have the opportunity to be involved in the patient assessment and management for a large number of neurosurgical conditions as seen in a busy academic centre.

The clinical experience is complemented by the option to contribute to clinical or basic research.

Further information on Undergraduate education is provided by the University of Toronto.

Elective Program

The Division of Neurosurgery accepts Elective Students from universities across Canada and abroad.

Comprehensive Research Experience for Medical Students (CREMS)

The CREMS Summer Program provides medical students with the opportunity to obtain research experience during the summer months.

The CREMS Summer Program is open to first- and second-year medical students at the University of Toronto.

Applications are submitted, reviewed, ranked and selected by the CREMS Director and a review panel of three other faculty members.

Students in the program present their work at the University of Toronto Medical Student Research Day, which is held in the following year with a poster presentation. Supervisors ensure that students receive the appropriate training needed to conduct their research projects.

Further information is provided by the CREMS office at the University of Toronto.

Patient as Teacher Program

The third-year surgical clerkship for undergraduate medical students at the University of Toronto integrates the Patient as Teacher program. Comprising three workshops and production of a creative reflection piece, this program aims to promote humanism and patient-centred approaches in medicine. Patients share their experiences and insights to provide students with the patient perspective of the surgical journey.

Further information on the Patient as Teacher program »


Artwork by University of Toronto surgical clerks
Artwork by University of Toronto surgical clerks George Ho (left) and Sivaani Sivaselvachandran (right).

The Observerships program at UHN provides health care professionals and students from around the world the opportunity to observe examinations and other procedures performed by UHN staff physicians, surgeons, nurses, and health professionals. All Observers require a UHN sponsor—a clinical or surgical staff member who will be responsible for the Observer’s learning experience. It is the observer’s responsibility to connect with a sponsor and then proceed with the application process.

In addition to the general Observerships program, the International Centre for Education at UHN’s Michener Institute of Education offers the Personalized Learning Program.

Personalized Learning Program (PLP)

The PLP at UHN is a fully customizable, observership-based program designed to meet learner goals and objectives. No two PLPs are exactly the same! Various resources and expertise throughout UHN are leveraged to enhance the learning experience. The program office works closely with host program(s) and learners to develop an Education Plan, outlining the activities of the PLP which are meant to meet the learning objectives. One-on-one coaching time and check-ins are also scheduled throughout the program, as needed. Learners are asked to provide a short presentation at the end of the program to summarize their learning and provide feedback. Learners also receive a UHN-Michener Certificate of Completion at the end of the program.

Depending on the PLP, the program may also be done virtually. A virtual PLP will provide one-on-one or group mentorship-like experiences and masterclasses with UHN clinicians and leaders. The virtual programs will be designed around and focused on meeting learners’ personalized learning needs and objectives.

Further information on the PLP is available from the International Centre for Education.