I am pleased to announce that, following a national search, Alex Valadka, M.D., will serve as chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. He will begin his tenure on August 24.
Valadka succeeds Harold F. Young, M.D., who is the founding chair of the Neurosurgery Department. I am profoundly grateful to Dr. Young whose leadership has been invaluable since he joined VCU as professor of neurosurgery in 1976. Today he is the James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Chair in Neurosurgery and director of the Harold F. Young Neurosurgical Center at VCU Medical Center. I credit Dr. Young with building a department that’s among the nation’s leading head-trauma programs. In addition, the department has generated more than $25 million in sponsored research from the NIH and is a top training program for neurosurgeons, including Dr. Valadka who completed his residency training on the MCV Campus in 1993.
Currently, Dr. Valadka is chairman and chief executive officer of the Seton Brain and Spine Institute in Austin, Texas, the largest, most comprehensive neuroscience program in Central Texas. He has a strong clinical and research interest in neurotrauma and critical care as evidenced by his research funding and record of scholarly publication. Dr. Valadka has been investigator and co-investigator on 18 research grants, including serving as initiating investigator on a $33.7-million Department of Defense research consortium on mild traumatic brain injury. He is author and co-author on more than seven dozen scientific papers and was co-editor on the textbook Neurotrauma: Evidence-Based Answers to Common Questions. He also is an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.
He is active on the national front and has served as chair of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)/Congress of Neurological Surgeons Section on Neurotrauma and Critical Care; as chair of the Neurosurgical Specialty Group of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Committee on Trauma; and on the boards of directors of the AANS and the Coalition for American Trauma Care. He has chaired the Washington Committee for Neurosurgery and served as vice president of the AANS. He served as a standing study section member for the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and continues to be a frequent ad hoc reviewer. His current responsibilities include serving as treasurer of the AANS and governor of the ACS as well as membership on the board of directors of the National Trauma Institute. He is associate editor of the Journal of Neurotrauma and section editor for Neurosurgery. He is the Consultant to the Commissioner of Major League Baseball for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, and in that role, he helped create and implement important new initiatives to improve player safety
Dr. Valadka earned his medical degree at the University of Chicago in 1987 and completed his neurosurgery residency training on the MCV Campus in 1993. Afterwards, he joined the faculty of the Department of Neurosurgery at Baylor College of Medicine. In 2006, he accepted a position as professor and vice chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. In 2009, he moved to Austin where he became CEO of the Seton Brain and Spine Institute and worked to create an academic medical center in Central Texas.
Dr. Valadka is married to Richmond native Patricia Valadka, who earned a pair of bachelor’s degrees from VCU: in psychology in 1982 and in nursing in 1986. Please join me in welcoming them both back to Richmond.
My thanks go to David Chelmow, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, who led the national search for a surgeon capable of following in the footsteps of Dr. Young and continuing the department’s traditional strengths in training and advancing the field of neurosurgical care.
Jerome F. Strauss, III, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System