Neurosurgery Department Celebrates Residency Program Graduates of 2021

This year, the UCSF Neurosurgery Residency Program congratulates our three graduates, who recently completed their seven-year training program in the department. Our graduating chief residents have already made significant impact on the field of neurosurgery – learn more about their accomplishments below. 

Andrew Chan, MD

Andrew K. Chan, MD attended the University of California, Los Angeles where he graduated with a degree in Psychobiology. Thereafter, he received his medical degree from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons where he graduated Alpha Omega Alpha and was awarded the Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship.

As a neurosurgery resident at UCSF, he has trained extensively with his mentor, Praveen V. Mummaneni, MD, and additionally under the guidance of UCSF spine surgeons Christopher P. Ames, MD, Dean Chou, MD, Aaron J. Clark, MD, PhD, and Lee A. Tan, MD in order to develop an expertise in open and minimally invasive deformity surgery and complex spine surgery.

He is dedicated to spine surgical research, with a specific focus in working with prospective longitudinal spine registries, such as the Quality Outcomes Database (QOD). His work has helped identify patient-specific factors that portend the best results following surgery and his research has been recognized by the Journalistic And Neurosurgical Excellence (J.A.N.E.) Award, awarded by the AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves, and the Stewart Dunsker Award for Best Clinical Spine Abstract at the 2021 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting. During his research year, he received funding to investigate the effect of pulsed electromagnetic fields on experimental models of disc degeneration and disc herniation. His work received publication in Spine and was recognized with the Best Basic Science Research Award at the 2020 UCSF Department of Neurological Surgery Resident Research Day.  

He has been active within organized neurosurgery, serving as Resident Consultant to the Board of the California Association of Neurological Surgeons (CANS) and resident chair of the CNS Online Fellowship Directory Subcommittee.

After residency, he will complete a spine fellowship at Duke University, with Christopher I. Shaffrey, MD, and colleagues. With that, he will begin his career as an academic complex spine and deformity surgeon.

Featured Publications

Chan AK, Bisson EF, Bydon M, Glassman SD, Foley KT, Shaffrey CI, Potts EA, Shaffrey ME, Coric D, Knightly JJ, Park P, Wang MY, Fu KM, Slotkin JR, Asher AL, Virk MS, Kerezoudis P, Alvi MA, Guan J, Haid RW, Mummaneni PV. Predictors of the Best Outcomes Following Minimally Invasive Surgery for Grade 1 Degenerative Lumbar Spondylolisthesis. Neurosurgery. 2020 Jun 04. 2019 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves Journalistic And Neurosurgical Excellence (J.A.N.E.) Award

Chan AK, Bisson EF, Bydon M, Foley KT, Glassman SD, Shaffrey CI, Wang MY, Park P, Potts EA, Shaffrey ME, Coric D, Knightly JJ, Fu KM, Slotkin JR, Asher AL, Virk MS, Kerezoudis P, Alvi MA, Guan J, Haid RW, Mummaneni PV. A Comparison of Minimally Invasive and Open Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion for Grade 1 Degenerative Lumbar Spondylolisthesis: An Analysis of the Prospective Quality Outcomes Database. Neurosurgery. 2020 Sep 01; 87(3):555-562.

Chan AK, Badiee RK, Rivera J, Chang CC, Robinson LC, Mehra RN, Tan LA, Clark AJ, Dhall SS, Chou D, Mummaneni PV. Crossing the Cervicothoracic Junction During Posterior Cervical Fusion for Myelopathy Is Associated With Superior Radiographic Parameters But Similar Clinical Outcomes. Neurosurgery. 2020 10 15; 87(5):1016-1024. 2019 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves Charles Kuntz Award.

Chan AK, Ballatori A, Nyayapati P, Mummaneni NV, Coughlin D, Liebenberg E, Külling FA, Zhang N, Waldorff EI, Ryaby JT, Lotz JC. Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields Accelerate Sensorimotor Recovery Following Experimental Disc Herniation. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2021 Feb 15; 46(4):E222-E233.


Michael Safaee, MD

Michael Safaee, MD completed his undergraduate education at the University of California, Los Angeles with a focus on molecular, cell, and developmental biology. He was a recipient of the Regents Scholarship and graduated with Phi Beta Kapa and Highest Departmental Honors. He earned his medical degree from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA with Alpha Omega Alpha Honors. During medical school, he received the Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco where his work focused on mechanisms of glioma invasion and immunosuppression. 

During residency he developed an interest in spinal surgery under the mentorship of Christopher Ames, MD. His focus transitioned from brain tumors to spinal deformity, spinal oncology, and minimally invasive spine surgery. He is a recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the NIH, UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute Resident Research Award, San Francisco Neurological Society Resident Scholarship Award, and Howard Naffziger Award (twice). His research focuses on clinical outcomes, novel techniques, and cost analysis in spinal deformity and spinal oncology with over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts. He has developed a particular interest in prevention strategies for proximal junctional failure, patient-specific spinal implants, and biomarkers for risk stratification. 

After graduation, he will begin a spine fellowship in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. 

Featured Publications

Safaee MM, Deviren V, Dalle Ore C, Scheer JK, Lau D, Osorio JA, Nicholls F, Ames CP. Ligament augmentation for prevention of proximal junctional kyphosis and proximal junctional failure in adult spinal deformity. J Neurosurg Spine. 2018;28(5):512-519.

Safaee MM, Lyon R, Barbaro NM, Chou D, Mummaneni PV, Weinstein PR, Tihan T, Chin CT, Ames CP. Neurological outcomes and surgical complications in 221 spinal nerve sheath tumors. J Neurosurg Spine. 2017;26(1):103-111.

Safaee MM, Dalle Ore CL, Zygourakis CC, Deviren V, Ames CP. Estimating a price point for cost-benefit of bone morphogenetic protein in pseudarthrosis prevention for adult spinal deformity surgery. J Neurosurg Spine. 2019; doi: 10.3171/2018.12.SPINE18613. Online ahead of print.

Safaee MM, Tenorio A, Osorio JA, Choy W, Amara D, Lai L, Molinaro A, Zhang Y, Hu SS, Tay B, Burch S, Berven SH, Deviren V, Dhall SS, Chou D, Mummaneni PV, Eichler CM, Ames CP, Clark AC. The impact of obesity on perioperative complications in patients undergoing anterior lumbar interbody fusion. J Neurosurg Spine. 2020; doi: 10.3171/2020.2.SPINE191418. Online ahead of print.


Ethan Winkler, MD, PhD

Ethan Winkler, MD, PhD completed his undergraduate education at the University of Southern California, in neuroscience. He then went to the University of Rochester School of Medicine, where he completed both his MD and PhD degrees. His graduate school thesis investigated how disruption of the brain’s vasculature contributes to neurologic disease under mentorship from Berislav Zlokovic, MD, PhD. 

During residency, Ethan’s clinical focus was on cerebrovascular and skull base surgery under mentorship of Adib Abla, MD, Philip Theodosopolous, MD, and Michael Lawton, MD. He completed an NIH-funded post-doctoral fellowship with Daniel Lim, MD, PhD and additional post-doctoral training with Tomasz Nowakowski, PhD. He has contributed >130 peer-reviewed manuscripts with a special research interest in defining cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for arteriovenous malformations and clinical outcomes from treatment. His work has been published in Nature, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron and Lancet Neurology, and has been honored with multiple resident research awards at UCSF and the Galbraith Award from the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.  He has received grant support from the NIH, Brain Aneurysm Foundation, Brain Vascular Malformation Consortium and UCSF Department of Neurological Surgery. His career goal is to create an integrated clinical practice and translational research program to provide compassionate care for patients with cerebrovascular diseases, while developing novel therapeutic strategies. 

After graduation, he will begin an Endovascular Surgical Neuroradiology Fellowship at the Barrow Neurological Institute with Felipe Albuquerque, MD, Andrew Ducruet, MD, and Ashutosh Jadhav, MD, PhD. He will also complete a Cerebrovascular and Skull Base fellowship with Michael Lawton, MD.

Featured Publications

Winkler EA, Nishida Y, Sagare AP, Rege SV, Bell RD, Perlmutter D, Sengillo JD, Hillman S, Kong P, Nelson AR, Sullivan JS, Zhao Z, Meiselman HJ, Wendy, RB, Soto, J, Abel ED, Makshanoff J, Zuniga E, De Vivo DC, Zlokovic BV. GLUT1 reductions exacerbate Alzheimer’s disease vasculo-neuronal dysfunction and degeneration. Nat Neurosci. 2015 Apr;18(4):521-530. doi: 10.1038/nn.3966. Epub 2015 Mar 2.

Winkler EA, Burkhardt JK, Rutledge WC, Rick JW, Partow CP, Yue JK, Birk H, Bach AM, Raygor K, Lawton MT. Tandem fenestration of the lamina terminalis and membrane of Liliequist during microsurgical aneurysm repair reduces rates of shunt dependency following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. J Neurosurg. 2018 Nov 1;129(5):1166-1172. doi: 10.3171/2017.5.JNS163271.

Winkler EA, Birk H, Burkhardt JK, Chen X, Yue JK, Rutledge WC, Lasker G, Tihan Tarik, Chang EF, Su H, Kim H, Walcott BP, Lawton MT. Reductions in brain pericytes are associated with arteriovenous malformation vascular instability. J Neurosurg. 2018 Dec 1;129(6):1464-1474. doi: 10.3171/2017.6.JNS17860.

Winkler EA, Lu A, Morshed RA, Yue JK, Rutledge WC, Burkhardt JK, Patel AB, Ammanuel S, Braunstein S, Fox C, Fullerton H, Kim H, Cooke D, Hetts SW, Lawton MT, Abla AA, Gupta N. Bringing high grade arteriovenous malformations under control: clinical outcomes following multi-modality treatment in children. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2020 Apr 10;1-10. doi: 10.3171/2020.1.PEDS19487. Online ahead of print.