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Global Neurosurgery Leader to Head Neurosciences at Rutgers, RWJBarnabas Health

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In a transformative move that will significantly improve the capacity for neurosurgical services in the state and enhance Rutgers’ and RWJBarnabas Health’s reputation among the top tier of neurosurgical care providers, renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Anil Nanda has been appointed joint chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and New Jersey Medical School, both part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. He will also serve as the senior vice president for neurosurgical services at RWJBarnabas Health.

Founding chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center–Shreveport (LSUHSC) for 27 years, Dr. Nanda has gained international renown for his clinical, research and academic achievements. An expert in several advanced neurosurgical techniques who specializes in skull base, vascular and spinal neurosurgery, including Gamma Knife radiosurgery, Dr. Nanda has performed more than 17,000 surgeries, 2,000 of which were for skull base tumors and aneurysms.

“Dr. Nanda’s arrival at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences is another major step forward in creating a premier academic health system for New Jersey, statewide in scope with the promise of national prominence and delivering innovative, value-driven patient care. As Dr. Nanda builds his team, Rutgers will be establishing one of the leading research-intensive neurosurgery programs in the nation. This is a great benefit for New Jersey, for our neurosurgery patients, and presents unprecedented training opportunities for our students and residents,” says Dr. Brian Strom, Chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.

“Dr. Anil Nanda brings extraordinary experience and leadership to his role at RWJBarnabas Health and as joint chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at the Rutgers medical schools,” says Barry H. Ostrowsky, president and chief executive officer of RWJBarnabas Health. “As an internationally renowned surgeon, his expertise and vision in both the clinical and academic settings will greatly expand RWJBarnabas Health’s neurosurgical profile and capabilities at a global level, transforming neurosurgical care in New Jersey, and advancing our partnership with Rutgers University to create the state’s largest academic health care system.”

It’s an undertaking that’s familiar to the man who created and built the neurosurgery department and residency training program at LSUHSC into one of international renown and the largest neurosurgery residency program in the state of Louisiana, as well as attracted some of the world’s leading minds in neurosurgery to Shreveport as visiting professors.

Dr. Nanda’s goals at Rutgers and RWJBarnabas Health are similarly far-reaching: to build a dynamic neurosciences institute that has the potential to become a national destination for people in need of neurosurgical care, that has expanded capabilities for ground-breaking research in the field, and that is a leader in training, not only of medical students and residents, but also physicians in a variety of specialties. He also seeks to strengthen and expand endovascular services, as well as care for neurotrauma, peripheral nerve, pediatric neurosurgery for brain tumors, neuro-oncology, stroke, spine and other affiliated specialties.

The potential is clearly there, he says, and is part of what he finds exciting about his new position.

“More than 8 million residents are in the state of New Jersey, 5 million of whom are covered in the service area of RWJBarnabas Health’s comprehensive health system. The medical schools at Rutgers have national brand recognition, with strong neurology and ENT programs, and are positioned to play a pivotal role in providing neurosurgical care for the state. By capitalizing on identified strengths and expanding neurosurgical faculty and services, there is ample opportunity for growth and excellence in the neurosciences,” Dr. Nanda says, adding, “I felt there is a need for a unified academic neurosurgical program in New Jersey, and I think it’s a unique opportunity to merge three campuses and build a really world-class center.”

Robert Wood Johnson Medical School faculty and leadership are excited about the possibilities, says Dr. Sherine E. Gabriel, dean. “Dr. Nanda’s outstanding leadership, his clinical expertise in neurosurgery and the strength of his research and teaching abilities are the perfect complement to our four-fold mission in education, research, highest quality clinical care, and community health. Together, we have the pieces necessary to transform care and provide truly world-class neurosurgical services, while at the same time advancing science through innovative research, and training the next generation of neurosurgeons in advanced techniques to best serve our community,” Dr. Gabriel says.

“We’re delighted to have Dr. Anil Nanda, a leader in Neurological Surgery, join the New Jersey Medical School as Chair of Neurosurgery. His stature as an academic neurosurgeon will greatly enhance the educational, research and clinical missions throughout the Rutgers/RWJBarnabas Health system, providing world-class neurosurgical services throughout the State of New Jersey,” adds Dr. Robert L. Johnson, The Sharon and Joseph L. Muscarelle Endowed Dean, New Jersey Medical School.

The move to the Northeast after nearly three decades in Louisiana also is a homecoming of sorts for the New York native, whose wife, Laura, is a Rutgers alumna.

With an emphasis on outcomes rather than volume, compassion rather than business, Dr. Nanda envisions the development of a dynamic, statewide neurosciences network with a nationally recognized center founded on the promise of high-quality care.

“In the end, high-quality care aims to exceed patient expectations, provide an environment to inspire medical students, train exemplary residents, nurture junior faculty, and seek the wisdom of experienced practitioners, while creating a culture of excellence, diversity and compassion,” Dr. Nanda explains.

His storied career is reflective of that merger, with significant contributions to education and research, involvement in public health issues, and leadership in numerous professional organizations. Currently secretary of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Dr. Nanda has served as past president of such organizations as the Society of University Neurosurgeons, North American Skull Base Society and Southern Neurosurgical Society, past vice president of the Society of Neurological Surgeons, and a member of the American Academy of Neurological Surgery, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, and many others at state, national and international levels. He is also director of the American Board of Neurological Surgery (ABNS) and was recognized as a global leader in neurosurgery by the World Federation of Neurological Societies.

His interest and involvement in public health issues have been recognized by a number of organizations, including the Junior Achievement of North Louisiana, which inducted him as a member of its 2011 Business Hall of Fame for his leadership, determination, ethics and giving back to the community. In 2012, he earned his Master of Public Health degree from Harvard School of Public Health, where, as part of his curriculum, he helped pass the Louisiana Youth Concussion Law, requiring all schools, clubs and other organizations that sponsor youth athletics to provide athletes and their parents with information about concussion and the potential long-term effects of playing after a head injury. And, in 2017, he was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters by Centenary College and gave its commencement address.

A graduate with honors from Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Madras University, India, Dr. Nanda completed an internship in surgical oncology from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, followed by a residency in general surgery at what is now Rush University Medical Center; in neurosurgery at Hahnemann University School of Medicine, Philadelphia; and in pediatric neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He completed fellowship training in microneurosurgery and cranial base surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Presbyterian Hospital.

He and his wife, who is an attorney, have three children.

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