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Lesniak Named Chair of Neurological Surgery

Renowned neurosurgeon explores therapies for malignant and benign brain tumors

  • Joins Northwestern after esteemed career at University of Chicago
  • Therapies involve using genes, stem cells, the immune system and nanotechnology
  • ‘An innovative scientist and scholar dedicated to finding novel targets for glioma therapies’

CHICAGO --- Influential neurosurgical oncologist Dr. Maciej (Matt) Lesniak has been named the Michael J. Marchese Professor and chair of the departments of neurological surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
 
Lesniak comes from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, where he is a professor of neurosurgery, neurology and cancer biology, as well as director of neurosurgical oncology and neuro-oncology research.

One of the nation’s leading neurosurgeons, Lesniak has a reputation for investigating and carrying out creative treatment approaches for adults with both malignant and benign brain tumors. He is known for his expertise in performing a large number of awake craniotomies, a unique procedure during which the patient is kept awake.

“Matt is not only an internationally recognized physician in the field of neurosurgery, he is also an innovative scientist and scholar dedicated to finding novel targets for glioma therapies,” said Dr. Eric G. Neilson, vice president for medical affairs and the Lewis Landsberg Dean. “We are delighted to welcome him to Northwestern Medicine and have no doubt he will be a superb leader for the department of neurological surgery.”

Lesniak was born in Krakow, Poland, and received an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in health care management from Harvard University. He earned his medical degree in 1996 from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed his residency in neurosurgery and fellowship in neurosurgical oncology in 2003, both at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. In 2003, he joined the University of Chicago, where he rose through the ranks over the next 12 years.

“Dr. Lesniak has distinguished himself as a physician-scientist and a leader in his field,” said Dean M. Harrison, president and CEO of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare. “We are excited to have him join us and believe he will make many invaluable contributions to advance Northwestern Medicine’s reputation for excellence and outstanding care.”

In his research, Lesniak explores a diverse range of promising brain cancer therapies, involving genes, stem cells, the immune system and nanotechnology. He has published more than 350 peer-reviewed journal articles and other publications and is currently the principal investigator of six multi-million dollar grants funded by the National Institutes of Health.

“It is a tremendous privilege to be entrusted with the leadership of a top neurosurgical department at one of the best and leading academic medical institutions in the United States,” Lesniak said. “The department of neurological surgery at Northwestern has a rich history and is composed of national and international leaders who deliver outstanding neurosurgical care and participate in leading-edge neurological research.  

“I am humbled by this honor and look forward to working with Dean Eric Neilson and Dean Harrison on promoting our core values, advancing medical science and education and delivering exemplary clinical care that is without rival in the U.S.,” Lesniak added.

Lesniak’s career to date has been marked by many honors and awards, notably the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy Outstanding Investigator Award. Most recently, he won the National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award for exceptional and transformative cancer research.

His wide involvement in the scientific community includes memberships in many societies, including the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Society of Neurological Surgeons. He also is on many scientific advisory boards, editorial boards and grant review panels.

Even before arriving on campus, Lesniak forged ties to the Northwestern community. He is a member of the Northwestern University Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence and collaborates with faculty members in the neurosciences on ongoing research. Lesniak fills the position held in the interim by Dr. Michel Kliot, professor of neurological surgery.

“We would like to thank Michel for his outstanding service during the department’s time of transition,” Dr. Neilson said. “We also greatly appreciate the leadership of Dr. Dimitri Krainc, who chaired the search committee that identified Dr. Lesniak.”

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