Michael T. Lawton MD


Professor in Residence of Neurological Surgery, Tong Po Kan Endowed Chair

Chief, Cerebrovascular Surgery

Director, Cerebrovascular Disorders Program

Co-Director, Skull Base and Cerebrovascular Laboratory

Michael Lawton MD is the Tong-Po Kan Endowed Chair, Professor of neurological surgery, and Vice-Chairman of the department at the University of California, San Francisco. He is chief of vascular neurosurgery, specializing in the surgical treatment of aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, arteriovenous fistulas, cavernous malformations, and cerebral revascularization, including carotid endarterectomy. As chief of one of the busiest cerebrovascular service on the west coast for over 18 years, he has experience in surgically treating over 4,000 brain aneurysms and over 700 AVMs. He also practices the endovascular treatment of aneurysms.

Dr. Lawton co-directs and conducts his research at the UCSF Center for Cerebrovascular Research (CCR), a collaborative research group funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health that investigates the physiology of cerebral circulation and the pathophysiology of vascular malformations. His basic science investigations study the formation, underlying genetics, and rupture of brain AVMs, as well as the hemodynamics, rupture, and computational modeling of brain aneurysms. His clinical investigations study the anatomy of microsurgical approaches to vascular lesions and efficacy of aneurysm, AVM, and bypass surgery. He is the principle investigator of a NIH U54 grant and program director of the Brain Vascular Malformation Consortium (BVMC), a multicenter group studying malformations associated with Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia, cavernous malformations, and Sturge-Weber Syndrome.

Dr. Lawton has published over 400 peer-reviewed articles, over 70 book chapters, and 3 textbooks, including Seven AVMs: Tenets and Techniques for Resection and Seven Aneurysms: Tenets and Techniques for Clipping, which has won numerous awards. His awards include the Young Neurosurgeon Award from the World Federation of Neurological Societies, the Harold Rosegay Teaching Award, and the Diane Ralston Clinical and Basic Science Teaching Award. He has given over 600 invited lectures nationally and internationally, including visiting professorships at over 40 neurosurgical institutions. He has been active in resident teaching courses, directing the CNS Anatomy Course for Senior Residents, developing and co-directing the AANS Vascular Skills Course, and directing industry-sponsored anatomy courses and teaching programs for residents nationally and internationally to observe vascular neurosurgery. He co-founded Mission:BRAIN, a teaching mission to raise the level of neurosurgical technique practiced in developing countries, and has conducted 7 missions in Mexico and the Philippines.

Read about Dr. Lawton's current research ►

Education, Training, and Previous Positions

1986: BS, Brown University
1990: MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
1990-1991: General Surgery Internship, Johns Hopkins Hospital
1991-1997: Neurosurgical Residency, Barrow Neurological Institute
1994-2000: Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Arizona State University
1995-1996: Fellowship in Cerebrovascular/Skull-base Surgery, Barrow Neurological Institute
2008 – 2011: Fellowship in Endovascular Surgery, University of California, San Francisco

Selected Professional Memberships and Appointments

American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Cerebrovascular Section of the AANS and CNS
American Academy of Neurological Surgery
Western Neurological Society
San Francisco Neurological Society
Bay Area Stroke Society

Selected Honors and Awards

1996: Sigma Xi
1996: Resident Research Award, Rocky Mountain Neurosurgical Society
1997: Resident Research Award, Rocky Mountain Neurosurgical Society
1997: Young Neurosurgeon Award, World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies and International Congress of Neurological Surgery
2005: Harold Rosegay Teaching Award, Department of Neurological Surgery, UCSF 
2006: Diane D. Ralston Clinical and Basic Science Teaching Award, Department of Neurological Surgery, UCSF 
2007 – Present: Top Doctor, Castle Connolly and American Registry, Boca Raton, FL
2007 – Present: Best Doctors in America, Best Doctors, Aiken, SC
2009 – Present: America’s Top Surgeons, Consumers’ Research Council of America, Washington, DC
2010 – Present: Guide to America’s Top Surgeons, SLD Industries, Simi Valley, CA

Selected Recent Publications

Conger A, Kulwin C, Lawton MT, Cohen-Gadol AA. Diagnosis and evaluation of intracranial arteriovenous malformations. Surg Neurol Int 2015;6:76.

Shimada K, Furukawa H, Wada K, Korai M, Wei Y, Tada Y, Kuwabara A, Shikata F, Kitazato KT, Nagahiro S, Lawton MT, Hashimoto T. Protective Role of Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor-γ in the Development of Intracranial Aneurysm Rupture. Stroke 2015;46(6):1664-72.

Choquet H, Pawlikowska L, Lawton MT, Kim H. Genetics of cerebral cavernous malformations: current status and future prospects. J Neurosurg Sci. 2015 Sep;59(3):211-20.1.

Conger A, Kulwin C, Lawton MT, Cohen-Gadol AA. Endovascular and microsurgical treatment of cerebral arteriovenous malformations: Current recommendations. Surg Neurol Int. 2015 Mar 19;6:39.

Abla AA, Lawton MT. Variability in Endovascular Treatment of Delayed Cerebral Ischemia and Vasospasm in Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage. World Neurosurg. 2015 Apr 13. pii: S1878-8750(15)00374-5.

Davies JM, Kim H, Lawton MT. Surgical treatment of cerebral cavernous malformations. J Neurosurg Sci. 2015 Sep;59(3):255-70. .

Kim H, Nelson J, Krings T, terBrugge KG, McCulloch CE, Lawton MT, Young WL, Faughnan ME; Brain Vascular Malformation Consortium HHT Investigator Group; BVMC HHT Investigator Group. Hemorrhage rates from brain arteriovenous malformation in patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. Stroke. 2015 May;46(5):1362-4.

Pawlikowska L, Nelson J, Guo DE, McCulloch CE, Lawton MT, Young WL, Kim H, Faughnan ME; Brain Vascular Malformation Consortium HHT Investigator Group. The ACVRL1 c.314-35A>G polymorphism is associated with organ vascular malformations in hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia patients with ENG mutations, but not in patients with ACVRL1 mutations. Am J Med Genet A. 2015 Jun;167(6):1262-7. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.36936.

Davies JM, Ozpinar A, Lawton MT. Volume-outcome relationships in neurosurgery. Neurosurg Clin N Am. 2015 Apr;26(2):207-18, viii.

Shimada K, Furukawa H, Wada K, Wei Y, Tada Y, Kuwabara A, Shikata F, Kanematsu Y, Lawton MT, Kitazato KT, Nagahiro S, Hashimoto T. Angiotensin-(1-7) protects against the development of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage in mice. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2015 Mar 11.

Benet A, Rincon-Torroella J, Lawton MT. Microsurgical clipping of a superior hypophyseal artery aneurysm: part 1: intradural anterior clinoidectomy: 3-dimensional operative video. Neurosurgery. 2015 Jun;11 Suppl 1:358.

Abla AA, Nelson J, Kim H, Hess CP, Tihan T, Lawton MT. Silent arteriovenous malformation hemorrhage and the recognition of "unruptured" arteriovenous malformation patients who benefit from surgical intervention. Neurosurgery. 2015 May;76(5):592-600; discussion 600.

Pancucci G, Potts MB, Rodríguez-Hernández A, Andrade H, Guo L, Lawton MT. Rescue Bypass for Revascularization After Ischemic Complications in the Treatment of Giant or Complex Intracranial Aneurysms. World Neurosurg. 2015 Jun;83(6):912-20.

Potts MB, Lau D, Abla AA, Kim H, Young WL, Lawton MT; UCSF Brain AVM Study Project. Current surgical results with low-grade brain arteriovenous malformations. J Neurosurg. 2015 Apr;122(4):912-20.

Yang ST, Rodriguez-Hernandez A, Walker EJ, Young WL, Su H, Lawton MT. Adult mouse venous hypertension model: common carotid artery to external jugular vein anastomosis. J Vis Exp. 2015 Jan 27;(95):50472.

Benet A, Rincon-Torroella J, Lawton MT. Microsurgical clipping of a superior hypophyseal artery aneurysm: part 2: distal dural ring dissection and clipping: 3-dimensional operative video. Neurosurgery. 2015 Jun;11 Suppl 1:359.

Alexander MD, Cooke DL, Nelson J, Guo DE, Dowd CF, Higashida RT, Halbach VV, Lawton MT, Kim H, Hetts SW. Association between Venous Angioarchitectural Features of Sporadic Brain Arteriovenous Malformations and Intracranial Hemorrhage. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2015 May;36(5):949-52.

Garcia RM, Ivan ME, Lawton MT. Brainstem cavernous malformations: surgical results in 104 patients and a proposed grading system to predict neurological outcomes. Neurosurgery. 2015 Mar;76(3):265-77; discussion 277-8.

Guo Y, Tihan T, Kim H, Hess C, Lawton MT, Young WL, Zhao Y, Su H. Distinctive distribution of lymphocytes in unruptured and previously untreated brain arteriovenous malformation. Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 2014;1(3):147-152.

Lawton MT. The role of AVM microsurgery in the aftermath of a randomized trial of unruptured brain arteriovenous malformations. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2015 Apr;36(4):617-9.

Murphy PA, Kim TN, Huang L, Nielsen CM, Lawton MT, Adams RH, Schaffer CB, Wang RA. Constitutively active Notch4 receptor elicits brain arteriovenous malformations through enlargement of capillary-like vessels. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Dec 16;111(50):18007-12.

Nacar OA, Rodrıguez-Hernandez A, Ulu MO, Rodrıguez-Mena R, Lawton MT. Bilateral ophthalmic segment aneurysm clipping with one craniotomy: operative technique and results. Turk Neurosurg. 2014;24(6):937-45.

Wang L, Shi W, Su Z, Liu X, Su H, Liu J, Liu Z, Lawton MT. Endovascular treatment of severe acute basilar artery occlusion. J Clin Neurosci. 2015 Jan;22(1):195-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2014.05.032. Epub 2014 Oct 28. PubMed PMID: 25443091.

Desai SJ, Lawton MT, McDermott MW, Horton JC. Vertical diplopia and ptosis from removal of the orbital roof in pterional craniotomy. Ophthalmology. 2015 Mar;122(3):631-8.

Abla AA, Rutledge WC, Seymour ZA, Guo D, Kim H, Gupta N, Sneed PK, Barani IJ, Larson D, McDermott MW, Lawton MT. A treatment paradigm for high-grade brain arteriovenous malformations: volume-staged radiosurgical downgrading followed by microsurgical resection. J Neurosurg. 2015 Feb;122(2):419-32. doi: 10.3171/2014.10.JNS1424. Epub 2014 Nov 28. PubMed PMID: 25423274.

Rayz VL, Abla A, Boussel L, Leach JR, Acevedo-Bolton G, Saloner D, Lawton MT. Computational modeling of flow-altering surgeries in basilar aneurysms. Ann Biomed Eng. 2015 May;43(5):1210-22.

Han SJ, Englot DJ, Kim H, Lawton MT. Brainstem arteriovenous malformations: anatomical subtypes, assessment of "occlusion in situ" technique, and microsurgical results. J Neurosurg. 2015 Jan;122(1):107-17.

Kim H, Abla AA, Nelson J, McCulloch CE, Bervini D, Morgan MK, Stapleton C, Walcott BP, Ogilvy CS, Spetzler RF, Lawton MT. Validation of the supplemented Spetzler-Martin grading system for brain arteriovenous malformations in a multicenter cohort of 1009 surgical patients. Neurosurgery. 2015 Jan;76(1):25-31; discussion 31-2; quiz 32-3.

Tada Y, Makino H, Furukawa H, Shimada K, Wada K, Liang EI, Murakami S, Kudo M, Kung DK, Hasan DM, Kitazato KT, Nagahiro S, Lawton MT, Hashimoto T. Roles of estrogen in the formation of intracranial aneurysms in ovariectomized female mice. Neurosurgery. 2014 Dec;75(6):690-5; discussion 695.

Russin JJ, Spetzler RF, Giannotta S, Meyer FB, Lawton MT, Cohen-Gadol AA. Introduction: Strategies for management and outcomes of arteriovenous malformations. Neurosurg Focus. 2014 Sep;37(3):Introduction.

Rutledge WC, Abla AA, Nelson J, Halbach VV, Kim H, Lawton MT. Treatment and outcomes of ARUBA-eligible patients with unruptured brain arteriovenous malformations at a single institution. Neurosurg Focus. 2014 Sep;37(3):E8.

Abla AA, Nelson J, Rutledge WC, Young WL, Kim H, Lawton MT. The natural history of AVM hemorrhage in the posterior fossa: comparison of hematoma volumes and neurological outcomes in patients with ruptured infra- and supratentorial AVMs. Neurosurg Focus. 2014 Sep;37(3):E6.

Abla AA, Lawton MT. Editorial: Prenidal aneurysm rupture with posterior fossa AVMs. Neurosurg Focus. 2014 Sep;37(3):E5.

Torné R, Rodríguez-Hernández A, Lawton MT. Intraoperative arteriovenous malformation rupture: causes, management techniques, outcomes, and the effect of neurosurgeon experience. Neurosurg Focus. 2014 Sep;37(3):E12.

Abla AA, Lawton MT. Indocyanine green angiography for cerebral aneurysm surgery: advantages, limitations, and neurosurgeon intuition. World Neurosurg. 2014 Nov;82(5):e585-6.

Abla AA, Lawton MT. The superficial temporal artery trunk-to-M2 middle cerebral artery bypass with short radial artery interposition graft: the forgotten bypass. World Neurosurg. 2015 Feb;83(2):145-6.

Abla AA, Lawton MT. Revascularization for unclippable posterior inferior cerebellar artery aneurysms: extracranial-intracranial or intracranial-intracranial bypass? World Neurosurg. 2014 Nov;82(5):586-8.

Korja M, Hernesniemi J, Lawton MT, Spetzler RF, Morgan MK. Is cerebrovascular neurosurgery sacrificed on the altar of RCTs? Lancet. 2014 Jul 5;384(9937):27-8.

Abla AA, Lawton MT. Current treatment strategies for cavernous internal carotid artery aneurysms. World Neurosurg. 2014 Dec;82(6):994-5.

Abla AA, Lawton MT. Cerebellomedullary fissure dissection and tonsillar mobilization: a gateway to lesions around the medulla. World Neurosurg. 2014 Nov;82(5):e591-2.

Rutledge WC, Ko NU, Lawton MT, Kim H. Hemorrhage rates and risk factors in the natural history course of brain arteriovenous malformations. Transl Stroke Res. 2014 Oct;5(5):538-42.