David O. Okonkwo, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery
Clinical Director, Brain Trauma Research Center
Executive Vice Chairman, Clinical Operations
Director, Neurotrauma Program
Director, Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Program





David O. Okonkwo, MD, PhD, is associate professor and director of neurotrauma, director of scoliosis and spinal deformity at UPMC Presbyterian, and clinical director of the Brain Trauma Research Center of the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Okonkwo completed his undergraduate work at the University of Virginia, where he received the University Academic Achievement Award and was named a Howard Hughes Undergraduate Biomedical Research Scholar. He completed his medical and doctoral education through the MD/PhD program of the Medical College of Virginia of Virginia Commonwealth University.

He joined the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery in 2006 following completion of neurosurgical residency at the University of Virginia and a fellowship at Auckland Public Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand. He has additional specialized training in scoliosis and other spinal deformities.

Dr. Okonkwo’s clinical interests are traumatic injuries to the brain and spine as well as scoliosis and spinal deformity. His research endeavors involve developing novel therapeutic interventions for brain and spinal cord injury. Dr. Okonkwo is the principal investigator of a nationally funded clinical core to study the pathophysiology of traumatic brain injury. He is also principal investigator of several ongoing clinical studies in neurotrauma in Pittsburgh.

Dr. Okonkwo has published more than 60 papers in refereed journals, authored numerous book chapters, and garnered several awards for his scientific research. He is a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the National and International Neurotrauma Societies.

Dr. Okonkwo's publications can be reviewed through the National Library of Medicine's publication database.

Hospital Privileges

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC
UPMC Presbyterian
UPMC Mercy
Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System

Professional Organizational Membership

Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
American College of Surgeons (Associate Member)
American Spinal Injury Association
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
International Neurotrauma Society
National Neurotrauma Society

Media Appearances

'Spectacular' Recovery for State Fair Stage Collapse Victim
March 10, 2013

University of Pittsburgh lands leading role in international brain injury study
October 22, 2013
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Less invasive spinal surgery pioneered by UPMC neurosurgeon helps patients recover quicker
July 23, 2012
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Medical Miracles: Surgery Restores Crushed Spine
May 2012
Pittsburgh Magazine

MRI-based test could find hidden trauma
March 22, 2012
Associated Press

Pitt research unlocks secrets of brain
March 2, 2012
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

High-Definition Fiber Tracking Could Help To Diagnose Traumatic Brain Injury
March 1, 2012
Huffington Post

A pitt professor has developed a new way of understanding the workings of the human brain
August 23, 2011
Pittsburgh Quarterly

Giffords' Brain Fluid Buildup a 'Minor Setback,' but Other Risks Remain
January 25, 2011 
AOL News