L. Dade Lunsford, MD

Lars Leksell Distinguished Professor
Director, Center for Image-Guided Neurosurgery
Director, Residency Training Program

L. Dade Lunsford




L. Dade Lunsford, MD, is the Lars Leksell Professor and Distinguished Professor at the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also director of the Center for Image-Guided Neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and an internationally recognized authority on stereotactic surgery, radiosurgery, and minimally invasive surgery.

In 1987, Dr. Lunsford was responsible for bringing the Gamma Knife to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the first center in the United States to offer this state-of-the-art, minimally invasive form of brain surgery.

[See also Lunsford Named Cushing Award Recipient.]

Dr. Lunsford received his medical degree in 1974 from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He completed his internship in surgery at the University of Virginia Hospital and his residency in neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. Following a one-year fellowship in stereotactic and functional neurosurgery at the Karolinska institute in Stockholm, Sweden—studying with professors Lars Leksell and Erik-Olof Backlund—he joined the Department of Neurological Surgery faculty in 1981.

He is an active staff member of several UPMC hospitals and was president of the medical staff at UPMC Presbyterian from 1999-2001 and past president of the Council of Clinical Chairs for the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 2001-2003. Dr. Lunsford chairs the UPMC Health System Technology and Innovative Practice committee and co-chairs the UPMC Brain Mapping (MEG) Center.

Dr. Lunsford has been board-certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery since 1983. He is the author of 576 published articles and 270 book chapters as well as the editor or co-editor of twelve books.

Dr. Lunsford also served as department chairman for ten years, stepping down in July of 2006 to devote more time to his clinical work, clinical investigation, and resident and fellow training.

Specialized Areas of Interest

Brain tumor management; Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery; movement disorders and trigeminal neuralgia; vascular malformations; concussion and sports medicine.

Board Certifications

American Board of Neurological Surgery

Hospital Privileges

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
UPMC Presbyterian
UPMC Shadyside
UPMC St. Margaret’s

Professional Organization Membership

AANS/CNS Joint Section for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery (chair, 1995-97)
Allegheny County Medical Society
American Academy of Neurological Surgery
American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Fellow
American College of Surgeons, Fellow
American Medical Association
American Pain Society
American Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery (president, 1995-97)
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Elekta Scientific Advisory Board
Florida Medical Association
International Association for the Study of Pain
International Gamma Knife Research Foundation, Chairman
International Radiosurgery Association, Chairman, Medical Advisory Board
International Stereotactic Radiosurgery Society, Co-Founder and President, 1991-1993
Japan Neurosurgical Society, Guest Member
Mid-Atlantic Neurosurgical Society
North American Skull Base Society
Pennsylvania Medical Society
Pennsylvania Neurosurgical Society
Phi Sigma Biological Society
Pittsburgh Neuroscience Society
Research Advisory Committee of the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation
Society for Neuro-Oncology Society of Neurological Surgeons
University of Virginia Alumni Association, Regional Selection Committee, Jefferson Scholars Program
World Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery

Education & Training

BA, University of Virginia, 1970
MD, Columbia University, 1974
Internship, General Surgery, University of Virginia, 1975
Residency, University of Pittsburgh, 1980
Fellowship, Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery, Karolinska Sjukhuset, 1981

Honors & Awards

  • BA with High Honors - University of Virginia (1970)
  • Phi Beta Kappa - University of Virginia (1970)
  • William P. Van Wagenen Fellowship, AANS (1980)
  • Good Housekeeping Best Doctors (1996)
  • Pittsburgh Magazine, “Top Docs - Who Do Local MDs Trust?” (1996, 2005, 2006-2015)
  • International Stereotactic Radiosurgery Jacob Fabrikant Award (1997)
  • William S. McEllroy Award, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (1997)
  • The Best Doctors, 1997 - 2002
  • Faculty Teaching Award, Department of Neurosurgery (1997, 1999, 2000, 2010)
  • Lars Leksell Provost Lecture (2000)
  • “America’s Top Doctors,” Castle Connolly Medical, Ltd. 2000-2008
  • Who’s Who In America, Marquis (2003, 2006-2008, 2011-2014)
  • AANS Young Neurosurgeon Award (2005)
  • Academic Keys Who’s Who in Medical Sciences Education (2005)
  • Best Doctors in America (2005-2014)
  • Guide to America’s Top Surgeons (2006- 2009)
  • Distinguished Professor, University of Pittsburgh (2007)
  • Who’s Who in Science and Engineering (2007)
  • Congress of Neurological Surgeons Honored Guest (2007)
  • Allegheny County Medical Society Ralph C. Wilde Award (2008)
  • Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. National Physician of the Year Award (2008)
  • Who’s Who in the World (2008)
  • Pioneers in Radiosurgery Award, 2010, Leksell Gamma Knife Society (2010)
  • Leading Health Professionals of the World (2010)
  • America’s Top Doctors for Cancer Award, Castle Connolly (2010 -2014)
  • Best Doctors in America database (2010-2014)

Selected Publications

Harrison G, Kano H, Lunsford LD, Flickinger JC, Kondziolka D. Quantitative tumor volumetric responses after Gamma Knife radiosurgery for meningiomas. J Neurosurg 124(1):146-154, 2016.

Mousavi SH, Kano H, Faraji AH, Gande A, Flickinger JC, Niranjan A, Monaco E 3rd, Lunsford LD.  Hearing preservation up to 3 years after Gamma Knife radiosurgery for Gardner-Robertson Class I patients with vestibular schwannomas. Neurosurgery 76(5):584-91, 2015.

Bowden G, Kano H, Caparosa E, Park SH, Niranjan A, Flickinger J, Lunsford LD.  Gamma Knife radiosurgery for the management of cerebral metastases from non-small cell lung cancer. J Neurosurg 122(4):766-72, 2015.

Kano H, Shuto T, Iwai Y, Sheehan J, Yamamoto M, McBride HL, Sato M, Serizawa T, Yomo S, Moriki A, Kohda Y, Young B, Suzuki S, Kenai H, Duma C, Kikuchi Y, Mathieu D, Akabane A, Nagano O, Kondziolka D, Lunsford LD.  Stereotactic radiosurgery for intracranial hemangioblastomas: A retrospective international outcome study. J Neurosurg 122(6):1469-78, 2015. 

Sheehan JP, Starke RM, Kano H, Barnett GH, Mathieu D, Chiang V, Yu JB, Hess J, McBride HL, Honea N, Nakaji P, Lee JY, Rahmathulla G, Evanoff WA, Alonso-Basanta M, Lunsford LD.  Gamma Knife radiosurgery for posterior fossa meningiomas: A multicenter Study. J Neurosurg 122(6):1479-89, 2015.

Sheehan JP, Kano H, Xu Z, Chiang V, Mathieu D, Chao S, Akpinar B, Lee JY, Yu JB, Hess J, Wu HM, Chung WY, Pierce J, Missios S, Kondziolka D, Alonso-Basanta M, Barnett GH, Lunsford LD. Gamma Knife radiosurgery for facial nerve schwannomas: a multicenter study. J Neurosurg 123(2):387-394, 2015.

Stokes TB, Kondziolka D, Niranjan A, Kano H, Lunsford LD, Monaco EA 3rd.  White matter changes in breast cancer brain metastases patients who undergo radiosurgery alone compared to whole brain radiation therapy plus radiosurgery. J Neurooncol 121(3):583-90, 2015. 

Shin SS, Murdoch G, Hamilton RL, Faraji AH, Kano H, Zwagerman N, Gardner PA, Lunsford LD, Friedlander RM.  Pathological response of cavernous malformations following radiosurgery. J Neurosurg 123(4):938-944, 2015.

Sheehan JP, Cohen-Inbar O, Ruangkanchanasetr R, Bulent Omay S, Hess J, Chiang V, Iorio-Morin C, Alonso-Basanta M, Mathieu D, Grills IS, Lee JY, Lee CC, Lunsford LD. Post-radiosurgical edema associated with parasagittal and parafalcine meningiomas: a multicenter study. J Neurooncol 125(2):317-24, 2015.

Mousavi SH, Niranjan A, Huang M, Laghari FJ, Shin SS, Mindlin JL, Flickinger JC, Lunsford LD. Early radiosurgery provides superior pain relief for trigeminal neuralgia patients. Neurology 85(24):2159-65, 2015.

A complete list of Dr. Lunsford's publications can be reviewed through the National Library of Medicine's publication database.

Research Activities

The Center for Image-Guided Neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has been involved in active clinical research programs for more than 35 years. On an annual basis, the program publishes between 10 and 20 articles per year, based on our extensive experience in image-guided neurosurgery, including Gamma Knife radiosurgery. At present, over 13,400 patients have undergone Gamma Knife radiosurgery and are currently in the center’s initial database. The center’s current research activities are directed towards defining long-term outcomes of arteriovenous malformations; brain metastases; skull-based tumors including acoustic neuroma, pituitary tumor as well as other cranial tumors such as meningiomas, gliomas and less common tumors. The center currently trains not only residents, but also trains visiting scholars from other nations, having trained more than 50 such visiting scholars at this program over the last 30 years. Research activities are directed at looking at the long-term clinical outcome of patients who have undergone radiosurgery, as well as continuing to explore the benefits of other image-guided surgical techniques using minimally invasive strategies for tumors such as gliomas as well as more common clinical problems.

Dr. Lunsford continues to serve as chair of the International Gamma Knife Research Foundation, or IGKRF (formerly the North American Gamma Knife Consortium). Since its inception, the foundation’s mandate has been the review of the long term outcomes of radiosurgery using the Gamma Knife by utilizing both prospective and retrospective clinical data. There are currently 26 medical centers (from America, Canada, Puerto Rico, China, Taiwan, Spain and the Czech Republic) who have joined the IGKRF. Dr. Lunsford anticipates the membership to continue to grow both nationally and internationally. The IGKRF consistently publishes between three and five articles a year. There are three clinical trials proposed, developed and administered by the IGKRF that are underway: 

1) a randomized controlled study of outcomes in patients with five or more brain metastases treated with radiosurgery vs. whole brain radiotherapy; 

2) a multi-center phase II study of border zone stereotactic radiosurgery with Bevacizumab in patients with recurrent or progressive glioblastoma multiforme; and 

3) radiosurgery or open surgery for epilepsy (ROSE) trial. 

Media Appearances

Proud to be from Pittsburgh: UPMC medical student
August 5, 2016

Treated for a brain tumor at 16, VCOM student rotates with his former neurosurgeon
August 3, 2016
The DO - American Osteopathic Association

Lifesaving neurosurgeon inspires career in medicine
July 10, 2016
Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Lunsford Discusses Gamma Knife (mp3)
February 29, 2016
KDKA Morning News Show

Studies still looking for link between cell phones and brain tumors
May 22, 2014

Pitt recruit Blair overcomes stroke
September 6, 2013

Gamma Knife surgical team marks 25 years since first test
August 13, 2012
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Repeat Gamma Knife Radiosurgery Fixes Most Brain AVMs
April 20, 2011 
Medscape Today News

A drug’s unintended use restores the gift of hearing
July 9, 2009
Boston Globe

St. Joes - 3 OF A KIN: The Calathes brothers are in each other's corners
January 15, 2008 
Philadelphia Daily News

New Perfexion Gamma Knife unit installed at UPMC Presbyterian (.mov)
October 9, 2007
WTAE-TV Pittsburgh

Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery (.wmv)
August 11, 2005
Sky Radio

UPMC OnTopic Discussions

Glycerol Rhizotomy Treatment for Trigeminal Neuralgia
Dr. Lunsford explains trigeminal neuralgia and the advantages of using glycerol rhizotomy, a rapid action procedure, for treatment.

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery for Trigeminal Neuralgia
Dr. Lunsford explains trigeminal neuralgia and the advantages of using the Gamma Knife, a non-invasive one-day procedure, for treatment.

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery for Acoustic Neuromas
Lunsford, MD, explains acoustic neuromas and the advantages of using the Gamma Knife, a non-invasive one-day procedure, for treatment.