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University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry Taps Pilcher to Chair Neurosurgery Department

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

The University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry turned to one of its own and named Webster H. Pilcher, M.D., Ph.D., to chair its neurosurgery department. The appointment is subject to approval at the University Board of Trustees' Executive Committee April 25 meeting.

According to Senior Vice President and Vice Provost for Health Affairs Jay H. Stein, M.D., Pilcher's long-time association with the University of Rochester Medical Center made him a natural choice for the position.

"For the past 25 years, Dr. Pilcher has been part of the University of Rochester Medical Center as a student, faculty member, researcher, and talented neurosurgeon," Stein said. "Now Dr. Pilcher can apply his collective experience within this institution to the great benefit of our students, residents, patients and researchers."

Pilcher has brought hope to thousands of patients needing brain surgery for various ailments including tumors, cysts and epilepsy. He is nationally recognized for his epilepsy surgery work, and is one of the few specialists in the region able to perform a complicated epilepsy surgery, where damaged brain cells are removed to help reduce a patient's seizures. Pilcher helped lead the effort to establish Strong Health's Epilepsy Center, a multi-disciplinary approach to treating the ailment.

"After conducting an extensive national search, it became clear that Dr. Pilcher was the best neurosurgeon to lead the department forward as Chair," David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, said. "He has proven his ability to build a nationally eminent, interdisciplinary program in epilepsy, and has the respect of his peers as a superb neurosurgeon. Moreover, with his scientific background, he has articulated plans for the development of several key areas of neurosurgery that will foster the translation of laboratory results to clinical outcomes. We are highly enthusiastic about the opportunity to help him build these important clinical and academic neurosurgical programs."

In his new role, Pilcher will oversee a staff of five full-time neurosurgeons as well as two full-time and one part-time researchers. Initially, he plans to focus on enhancing two programs within the department, neuro-oncology and movement disorders, by facilitating translation of promising research into clinical care.

"It is my goal to build upon the already tremendous talent we currently have in the department, and look to expand in those areas where there is both a community need and an expertise here," Pilcher said. "I hope to provide an efficient means for our faculty, residents and students to take the outstanding research being performed at the Frank P. Smith Neurosurgical Laboratory and our other Departmental laboratories and apply it to improve patient care."

Pilcher has served on the faculty of the University since 1990, most recently as an associate professor of neurosurgery. He earned both his medical degree and Ph.D. from the University of Rochester Medical Center, and completed his surgical internship and neurosurgery residency through the University of Rochester as well. He was a fellow in neurosurgery, focusing on epilepsy and tumor surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle. Pilcher is board-certified in neurosurgery. He received his bachelor's in anthropology from Colgate University, and received a DMD in dentistry from Columbia University.

A member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the Neurosurgical Society of America, Pilcher also serves as an investigator in three active grants, two of which are focused on epilepsy surgery. He is a frequent lecturer and presenter at neurosurgery conferences nationwide and has published numerous papers, abstracts and contributed to physician textbooks on neurosurgery.

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