About the Department

The VCU School of Medicine’s Department of Neurosurgery is proud to be at the forefront of state-of-the-art services and care, new tools and techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of neurological conditions and comprehensive clinical training for emerging neurosurgeons.

As a regional referral center, we regularly see and treat patients with the most complex cases. Our cadre of internationally renowned physicians and faculty provide the innovative and compassionate outcomes today while tirelessly working to produce even better results tomorrow.

Mission, Vision & Values


As clinicians, educators and investigators in the evolving field of neurosurgery, our mission is to improve the health of all people by excelling in patient care, education and research.


We will lead the world in person-centric health care while inspiring the next generation of providers in a culture of innovation and intellectual curiosity.


Our collaborative team of physicians, researchers, educators and learners strives to foster an environment of compassion, integrity, stewardship and curiosity.

Our History


Professor of surgery Charles Bell Gibson, M.D., performed MCV’s first recorded neurosurgical procedure, successfully removing a frontal bone tumor in a 22-year-old woman presenting with loss of vision in her left eye and partial facial paralysis.


C. C. Coleman, M.D., who graduated from the Medical College of Virginia (MCV), now the VCU School of Medicine, in 1903 and later organized the Army School of Brain Surgery, returned to MCV and became the first dedicated neurosurgeon in Virginia.


Dr. Coleman established a neurosurgery residency at MCV, one of the first four programs of its kind in the U.S. to be approved by the American Medical Association’s Council on Medical Education and Hospitals.


The MCV Board of Visitors appointed John Meredith, M.D., who completed his residency under Dr. Coleman, professor and chair of neurosurgery.


Following the sudden death of Dr. Meredith, William Collins, Jr., M.D. became chief of neurosurgery, which had temporarily become a division within the Department of Surgery. During his time at MCV, Dr. Collins established the groundwork for the first neuroscience intensive care unit.


John Alksne, M.D. became chief of neurosurgery. During his time at VCU he pursued his interest in cerebrovascular pathology, experimenting with techniques such as stereotactic magnetic thrombosis of aneurysms, which presaged today’s modern endovascular coiling techniques.


Donald Becker, M.D., became chief of neurosurgery at the age of 36. During his time at VCU, he developed the subarachnoid screw for monitoring intracranial pressure and collaborated with other faculty members to receive NIH funding for neurotrauma and neurocritical care research.


Harold Young, M.D., joined the VCU faculty and worked with friend and colleague John Jane, M.D., at the University of Virginia to establish an annual teaching conference for neurosurgery residents at both universities, enriching their education and fostering interinstitutional camaraderie.


Dr. Young was appointed chair of neurosurgery, which had transitioned back to being its own department.


The VCU Board of Visitors approved the creation of the Harold F. Young Neurosurgical Center in the VCU Health System, with a focus of improving patient care, research and neuroscience education.


The VCU School of Medicine opened the McGlothlin Medical Education Center, funded in part by a $25 million gift from the McGlothlin family to honor Dr. Young’s excellence in patient care and teaching.


Alex Valadka, M.D., who trained under Dr. Young and completed his residency in 1993, returned to VCU and became chair of the department.


The Department of Neurosurgery celebrated its centennial in 2019, and faculty members collaborated to release a publication highlighting the department’s achievements over the past 100 years, available here.