David O. Okonkwo, MD, PhDAssociate Professor of Neurological Surgery
Clinical Director, Brain Trauma Research Center
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.
Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC
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)
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
International Neurotrauma Society
National Neurotrauma Society
Innovations in trauma and emergency care at UPMC
July 28, 2012
Less invasive spinal surgery pioneered by UPMC neurosurgeon helps patients recover quicker
July 23, 2012
Medical Miracles: Surgery Restores Crushed Spine
MRI-based test could find hidden trauma
March 22, 2012
Pitt research unlocks secrets of brain
March 2, 2012
High-Definition Fiber Tracking Could Help To Diagnose Traumatic Brain Injury
March 1, 2012
A pitt professor has developed a new way of understanding the workings of the human brain
August 23, 2011
Giffords' Brain Fluid Buildup a 'Minor Setback,' but Other Risks Remain
January 25, 2011
The Neurotrauma Clinical Trials Center, under the direction of principal investigator David O. Okonkwo, MD, PhD, participated in several clinical studies and clinical trials in neurotrauma during academic year 2010-11. Major studies included:
1) Spreading Depressions as Secondary Insults after Traumatic Brain Injury.
The purpose of this study is to determine the impact of particular brain seizure-like events, spreading depressions, on recovery from TBI. Interim analysis has demonstrated that cortical spreading depression occurs in 54% of patients with traumatic brain injury requiring craniotomy and is a major predictor of worsened outcome, perhaps the most important physiologic observation in TBI in the last 25 years.
2) Transforming Traumatic Brain Injury Research and Clinical Care.
The global aim of this study is to test and refine standards for data collection in TBI studies and to develop a pilot set of performance indicators for assessment of health care quality and comparative effectiveness in TBI, making use of emerging technology. The first seminal observation from this work is that 30% of mild TBI patients with “normal” head CTs have abnormalities on high signal-strength MRIs.
3) ARRA Administrative Supplement - Emerging Therapeutics for TBI: Acute to Chronic Changes; AKA University of Pittsburgh Brain Trauma Research Center – Clinical Core.
This administrative supplement expands the capability of the Clinical Core to coordinate the development and maintenance of a core genetic repository bank of TBI patients. This addition of a genetic repository compliments the currently prospectively collected data, samples and neuropsychological outcome that has been provided by the Clinical Core for the past 15 years.
4) Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Phase 3 Study to Investigate the Efficacy and Safety of Progestorone in Patients with Severe Traumatic Brain Injury.
The objective of this study is to evaluate the clinical efficacy of a novel formulation of progesterone for treatment of severe traumatic brain injury.
5) A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Dose-Escalation Study of NNZ-2566 in Patients with TBI.
The objective of this dose-escalation study is to evaluate the safety, pharmacokinetics and preliminary evidence of the neuroprotective effect of NNZ-2566 in patients with moderate to severe TBI (GCS 4-12). The safety, efficacy, and PK evaluations will be based on a comparison of the three NNZ-2566 treated groups with a matched placebo group.