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Robert M. Friedlander, MD, MA

Chair, Walter E. Dandy Professor Head of Cerebrovascular Neurosurgery Director, Complex Brain Surgery Program Co-Director, UPMC Neurological Institute


Robert Friedlander, MD, MA, is the Walter E. Dandy Professor and Chairman of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery and co-director of the UPMC Neurological Institute, positions he has held since 2010. Before coming to the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Friedlander was a professor at Harvard Medical School. He was also vice-chairman of neurosurgery, associate director of cerebrovascular surgery and co-director of the Neuroscience Research Center at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Dr. Friedlander has received many academic awards, including the Neurosurgery Resident Award from the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, the Bayer Cerebrovascular Award from the Joint Section of Cerebrovascular Surgery, the International Charcot Prize for Motor Neuron Diseases, the Award from the Academy of Neurological Surgeons, and the H. Richard Winn Prize from the Society of Neurological Surgeons.

Dr. Friedlander is an elected member of the prestigious America Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians and the National Academy of Medicine. As a sign of his prominence as a clinician and scientist, Dr. Friedlander is one of a very select group of authors to have been invited by the New England Journal of Medicine to write both a basic science review (mechanisms of neuronal cell death), as well as a clinical review (management of AVMs). Clinically, Dr. Friedlander focuses on the operative management of complex cerebrovascular disorders and brain tumors.

Dr. Friedlander’s major research interests lie in the study of the mechanistic pathways of the caspase apoptosis gene family. His work includes the evaluation of treatment strategies for neurodegenerative diseases (Huntington’s and ALS), stroke, brain trauma, and spinal cord injury through the modulation of the caspase-family apoptotic pathways. He was first to demonstrate activation and a functional role of caspase cell death pathways in neurological diseases. His research has received significant media attention. His major work has been published in the highest impact journals, most notably four publications in Nature, two in Science, one in Nature Medicine, one in Nature Neuroscience and eight in PNAS. For over two decades, he has had continuous NIH support as a principal investigator, as well numerous foundation awards. He directs a busy and prolific laboratory.

Dr. Friedlander has been appointed to the National Advisory Council of the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Additionally, a rewarding aspect of Dr. Friedlander’s activities is his involvement in organized neurosurgery. He was a member of the executive committee of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, as well as chair of the CNS Research Committee, the CNS Membership Committee, and the CNS Publications Committee. He directed the Society of Neurological Surgeons RUNN (Research Update in Neuroscience for Neurosurgeons) Course from 2004 to 2018 and served as chair of the Society of Neurological Surgeons research committee. He is a past chair of the AANS/CNS Joint Section of Cerebrovascular Surgery.

A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Dr. Friedlander came to the United States in 1983 and earned a joint BA and MA in biochemistry from Brandeis University in 1987. In 1991, he graduated from Harvard Medical School and went on to fulfill his internship in general surgery and residency in neurosurgery at Massachusetts General Hospital.


Selected Publications

Suofu Y, Li W, Jean-Alphonse FG, Jia J, Khattar NK, Li J, Baranov SV, Leronni D, Mihalik AC, He Y, Cecon E, Wehbi VL, Kim J, Heath BE, Baranova OV, Wang X, Gable MJ, Kretz ES, Di Benedetto G, Lezon TR, Ferrando LM, Larkin TM, Sullivan M, Yablonska S, Wang J, Minnigh MB, Guillaumet G, Suzenet F, Richardson RM, Poloyac SM, Stolz DB, Jockers R, Witt-Enderby PA, Carlisle DL, Vilardaga JP, Friedlander RM. Dual role of mitochondria in producing melatonin and driving GPCR signaling to block cytochrome c releaseProc Natl Acad Sci USA 114(38):E7997-E8006, 2017.

Yano H, Baranov SV, Baranova OV, Kim J, Pan Y, Yablonska S, Carlisle DL, Ferrante RJ, Kim AH, Friedlander RM. Inhibition of mitochondrial protein import by mutant huntingtinNat Neurosci 17(6):822-31, 2014.

Friedlander RM. Clinical practice. Arteriovenous malformations of the brain. Review. N Engl J Med 356(26):2704-12. Review, 2007.

Teng YD, Choi H, Onario RC, Zhu S, Desilets FC, Lan S, Woodard EJ, Snyder EY, Eichler ME, Friedlander RM. Minocycline inhibits contusion-triggered mitochondrial cytochrome c release and mitigates functional deficits after spinal cord injuryProc Natl Acad Sci USA 101(9):3071-6, 2004.

Primary Address
4th Floor, B-Wing, Suite B-449 UPMC Presbyterian Hospital
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