About the Division of Neurosurgery

Gelareh Zadeh

Dan Family Chair in Neurosurgery 
University of Toronto

Gelareh Zadeh, MD, PhD, FRCSC

Tel: 416-603-5679
Fax: 416-603-5298
Email: gelareh.zadeh@uhn.ca

Division of Neurosurgery
Toronto Western Hospital, West Wing 4-439
399 Bathurst Street
Toronto, ON
M5T 2S8

From the Chair's Office

Welcome to the University of Toronto Division of Neurosurgery. Having 32 clinical faculty, 8 research faculty, 36 residents and 32 fellows, we are among the largest neurosurgical training programs in the world. Our four teaching hospitals (St. Michael’s, Sunnybrook, Toronto Western and the Hospital for Sick Children), each with their individual expertise and culture, provide diversity and breadth of experience and opportunities for our residents. Beginning with the founding of our division of Neurosurgery in 1923, we have a rich and illustrious past tradition. Building on nine decades of achievement, we are now forging a trajectory of innovation and excellence for the future. Among our most
important attributes are:

  • Excellent clinical faculty and patient care
  • Expertise that is cross cutting all fields of Neurosurgery
  • Over half our neurosurgical faculty have PhD degrees and have a major interest in research
  • We produce world leading science
  • We have exceptional residents
  • We have outstanding teaching
  • We thrive on knowledge generation and translation
  • We attract neurosurgical trainees from throughout the world
  • We enjoy an unequalled record of innovation and productivity in Neurosurgery
  • We exert a major presence in Canadian and International Neurosurgical Leadership

This co-localization of talent housed in a single University Program within a major multicultural city is rarely encountered anywhere and gives us unique advantages including;

  • A high volume of patients and clinical material
  • The exposure of residents to both diverse and specialized practices of Neurosurgery
  • The opportunity to tailor neurosurgical residency training to fit individual career goals and aspirations

One of our most valuable assets, our Surgeon-Scientist program gives our residents the opportunity to train in both Clinical Neurosurgery and in Neurosurgical research and to become the future leaders in our specialty.

Our faculty and residents and fellows have a level of scientific productivity that is the benchmark for the neurosurgical programs in the world.

Led by Dr Nir Lipsman, our Neurosurgical Residency Program Director, we have an intensive didactic and practical curriculum for teaching our residents and enabling them to develop and blossom into the clinical and research leaders of tomorrow.

Our vision stated simply is to train the best neurosurgeons and push forward the frontiers of neurosurgery. With the tremendous talent and dedication of our trainees and faculty , with our determination and tenacity of purpose and with setting our sights on these goals, we will make an impact on our patients and on this most fascinating discipline we have chosen, Neurosurgery.


Neurosurgery in Canada was first officially recognized as a specialty in 1923 when the University of Toronto and the Toronto General Hospital sponsored Kenneth George McKenzie to train under Harvey Cushing in Boston. K.G. McKenzie became Canada's first neurosurgeon. When he returned to Toronto in 1924, he limited his practice to operations on the nervous system and soon established a reputation as one of the world leaders in the new specialty. The University of Toronto Division of Neurosurgery thus became the first neurosurgical program in Canada. McKenzie was a brilliant technical neurosurgeon who made significant contributions to operative procedures for spasmodic torticollis, glioblastoma multiforme, acoustic neuroma, and chronic pain. McKenzie served as the President of the Harvey Cushing Society in 1936-37, and was President of the Society of Neurological Surgeons in 1948-49. He was a member of the founding Editorial Board for the Journal of Neurosurgery, and served as editor from 1943-1950. 

The Canadian Neurosurgical Society honoured his name with the creation, in 1973, of the annual McKenzie Prize, awarded for the best paper given by a neurosurgical resident at the annual Canadian Congress of Neurological Sciences Meeting. 

The next neurosurgeon in sequence was William S. Keith who spent a year at the University of Chicago including time under Percival Bailey before returning to Toronto in 1930 to become McKenzie’s first full-year neurosurgical resident.  [h_picture03] The appointment in 1933 of Dr. Keith as neurosurgeon to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto marked the recognition of the subspecialty of Paediatric Neurosurgery in Canada. Energetic, stimulating, and kind, Bill Keith became one of Canada’s most beloved neurosurgeons. In 1976, in honour of this early pioneer in the annals of Toronto Neurosurgery, the Division of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto established the annual William S. Keith Visiting professorship in Neurosurgery. 

The third and final appointment to the Neurosurgical Faculty at the University of Toronto before World War II was E. Harry Botterell. Dr. Botterell had trained under Professor W.E. Gallie in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto in 1934. In 1936, Botterell became a trainee in neurosurgery under McKenzie. During World War II, Botterell enlisted in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps and went overseas in 1940. Upon his return in 1945, Botterell established the first Canadian rehabilitation centre for spinal cord injured patients in North America at the Lyndhurst Lodge. In 1952, Botterell succeeded McKenzie, then age 60, as Head of the Division of Neurosurgery. One of Dr. Botterell’s greatest contributions was the establishment of a grading system, the so-called "Botterell-scale", for patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage. A superb administrator and organizer, Dr. Botterell left active neurosurgical practice in 1962 to become Dean of the Medical School at Queen’s University. In 1982, The Division of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto established the annual E. Harry Botterell Visiting Professorship in Neurosurgery. 

Dr. William J. Horsey became the first of eight chief residents under Botterell. In the years that followed, Dr. Horsey established the first neurosurgery service at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, a service that has become one of Canada’s leading neurosurgical centres. Having retired from active neurosurgical service in 1989, Dr. Horsey has been recognized for his major contributions to clinical research with the establishment of the Horsey Prize for best resident research presentation given annually at the Botterell lectureship. Botterell’s second resident was Dr. William Lougheed who trained in the laboratory of Dr. William Sweet in Boston in 1952. Upon his return to Toronto in 1954, Dr. Lougheed established a method of hypothermia and temporary circulatory arrest for aneurysm surgery. Another one of Dr. Lougheed’s numerous contributions to modern-day neurosurgery was his popularization of the operating microscope for intracranial neurosurgical procedures. Since 1980, the Division of Neurosurgery has recognized Dr. Lougheed’s seminal contributions in operative microneurosurgery with the establishment of the William M. Lougheed Microneurosurgical Teaching Laboratory and Bi-Annual Lougheed Microvascular Neurosurgery Course.

Following Horsey and Lougheed, the next Botterell resident was E. Bruce Hendrick who, upon completion of his residency at the University of Toronto, trained in pediatric neurosurgery in Boston in 1953 with Drs Franc Ingraham and Donald Matson. In 1964, Dr. Hendrick became the first full-time pediatric neurosurgeon in the world and helped to establish what has become a major neurosurgical institution dedicated to the care of the child with neurosurgical disease. Following his retirement from active neurosurgical practice in 1990, the Division of Neurosurgery established the annual E. Bruce Hendrick Lectureship in Pediatric Neurosurgery in 1986. 

Dr. Ross Fleming finished his neurosurgical residency under Botterell in 1956 having received additional training in neuroanatomy and neurosurgery at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Dr. Fleming joined the neurosurgical staff at the Toronto Western Hospital in 1956 and became head of the Division there in 1965. One of Dr. Fleming’s major contributions in neurosurgery has been to neurosurgical education. In this matter, he has been recognized by the creation of the Ross Fleming Surgical Educator Award presented annually for excellence in undergraduate or postgraduate teaching at the University of Toronto. 

Dr. Ron Tasker completed his neurosurgical training in 1959 following which he undertook training on a McLaughlin Travelling Fellowship to visit the major European Neurosurgical centres in stereotactic neurosurgery. Having trained with Professor Lars Leksell in Stockholm, Dr. Tasker moved to the laboratory of Dr. Clinton Woolsey to learn the technique of microelectrode recording. On his return to Toronto in 1961, Dr. Tasker joined the neurosurgical staff at the Toronto General Hospital. In a 40 year career time span, Dr. Tasker has led the field in stereotactic and functional neurosurgery with his mapping of the human thalamus and brainstem. His major contributions to neurosurgery have recently been recognized in the establishment of the Ron Tasker Chair in Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery at the Toronto Western Hospital. 

The final neurosurgery resident to train under Botterell was Dr. Harold J. Hoffman. Upon completing his residency, Dr. Hoffman went to Europe on a McLaughlin Fellowship before joining the neurosurgical staff at The Hospital for Sick Children in 1964. Throughout his career, Dr. Hoffman pioneered several new surgical approaches to children with craniofacial disorders, epilepsy, tethered spinal cord, and brain tumors. Upon his retirement from active neurosurgical practice in 1997, the Harold Hoffman/Shoppers Drug Mart Chair in Pediatric Neurosurgery was established at The Hospital for Sick Children. 

At right: historic photo depicting, from left to right: Sir Geoffrey Jefferson, KG McKenzie, Harry Botterell, Tom Morley, and William Lougheed on the occasion of the opening of the Neurosurgery Unit at the Toronto General Hospital, 1958. 

In 1962, Dr. Thomas P. Morley succeeded Dr. Botterell as Head of the Division of Neurosurgery at the Toronto General Hospital, and in 1964 he was named Chairman of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto. Dr. Morley came to Toronto in 1952 having trained in neurosurgery in Manchester with Sir Geoffrey Jefferson. One of Dr. Morley’s accomplishments as Chairman was expanding the training program to include more residents trained each year, and to develop neurosurgery at other major Toronto Hospitals such as the Sunnybrook Medical Centre and the Wellesley Hospital. A total of 50 neurosurgeons finished either all or a significant part of their neurosurgical training while Dr. Morley was Chairman. Following his retirement from active neurosurgical practice in 1986, the Morley Neurosurgical Prize was established for the best research paper given by a neurosurgical resident at the annual Keith Lectureship. 

Dr. Alan Hudson became Chairman of the Division of Neurosurgery in 1979. A consummate surgical anatomist and skilled neurosurgeon who subspecialized in peripheral nerve surgery, Dr. Hudson placed Toronto on the map for world neurosurgery by bringing the World Federation, AANS, CNS, and Society of Neurological Surgeons Annual Meetings to Toronto during his tenure as Chairman. Dr. Hudson will also be remembered for training a generation of residents as surgeon:scientists, many of whom have assumed faculty positions in Neurosurgery at The University of Toronto. Following completion of his term as Chairman in 1989, Dr. Hudson became Surgeon-in-Chief of the Toronto Hospital, and then was appointed as President and Chief Executive Officer of the same institution. The institution grew in stature during his tenure to include the Toronto Western and Princess Margaret Hospitals and to become known as the University Health Network. In his name, the Alan and Susan Hudson Chair in Neuro-Oncology has been established at the University Health Network, as has the Hudson Teaching award given annually at the Hendrick Lectureship for the best resident and faculty teacher in the Division of Neurosurgery. 

Dr. Charles Tator followed Dr. Hudson as Chairman in 1989. As the first MD-Ph.D. to complete the neurosurgery residency program at the University of Toronto, Dr. Tator’s legacy remains his ability to encourage virtually all neurosurgical trainees during his tenure to undertake formal research programs as part of their training in neurosurgery. Many of the residents who trained under Dr. Tator have obtained their M.Sc.'s or Ph.D.'s, garnered numerous resident research awards, and have established themselves as neurosurgeon:scientists in academic neurosurgery in Toronto and throughout North America. In 1994, The Dan Family Chair in Neurosurgery was officially inaugurated with Dr. Charles H. Tator as the first Chair. This Chair was made possible following the generous donation of Leslie Dan to the Division of Neurosurgery. The Dan Family Chair fosters the academic enrichment of the research and teaching programs in the Division of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto. In Dr. Tator’s name, the Charles Tator Endowment Fund in Spinal Cord Injury Research has been established at the University Health Network. 

Today, there are four teaching neurosurgical units in the University including the Toronto Western Hospital of the University Health Network, the Hospital for Sick Children, St. Michael's and Wellesley Hospital, and Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre. Neurosurgery, like all of medicine, diversifies and expands as the years pass, and no single hospital can now provide a complete, modern training. Each hospital unit has cultivated its own special neurosurgical interests and each resident, during his or her rotations will rotate to all of these units. 

Although the University sets its own standards of training, the interdependence of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and Medical Schools across the country, binds these institutions tightly together. The Royal College sets minimum training requirements for candidates for the specialty certificates, including Neurosurgery. The University of Toronto offers training and experience beyond the minimum stipulated by the Royal College to those residents who request or require it. The training program also prepares residents for the examinations of the American Board of Neurological Surgery. 


1. Eben Alexander, Jr., "Kenneth George McKenzie, Canada's first neurosurgeon", J. Neurosurg. (July, 1974), 41:1-9 
2. Findlay J M, Neurosurgery at the Toronto General Hospital, 1924-1990: Part 1. Can J Neurol Sci 21: 146-158, 1994 
3. Findlay JM, Neurosurgery at the Toronto General Hospital, 1924-1990: Part 2. Can J Neurol Sci 21: 278-284, 1994 
4. Morley TM, A biographical sketch of Kenneth G. McKenzie (1892-1964). J Neurosurg 93:518-525, 2000 


Help support clinical advancements, research breakthroughs and education initiatives in the Division of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto.

Donations may be made online using our secure online giving form.

You may choose to support one or both of the following academic funds at the Division:

The Dan Family Chair in Neurosurgery

Supports academic activities within the Division--expanding the spectrum of surgical scholarship to a level unrivaled in the world.

The Surgeon Scientist Program

Gives our residents the opportunity to train in both clinical neurosurgery and in neurosurgical research--and in the doing, to become the future leaders in our specialty. These gifted residents are dedicated to excellent patient care, research and education.


Employment opportunities within the Division of Neurosurgery will be posted here as they become available.  

Contact Us

Office of the Chair:

Dr. James T. Rutka
R.S. McLaughlin Professor and Chair
Stewart Building
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Toronto, ON M5T 1P5
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Email: james.rutka@utoronto.ca


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