Elizabeth C. Tyler-Kabara, MD, PhD

Associate Professor

Elizabeth Tyler Kabara




Elizabeth C. Tyler-Kabara, MD, PhD completed her bachelor’s degree at Duke University, double majoring in biomedical and electrical engineering, in 1989. After leaving Duke, she worked at the National Institutes of Health as a biomedical engineer, developing and testing molecular biology software, developing a strategic plan for implementing computer networking, and recruiting a head for the newly formed Computational Biology Group.

She left the NIH to attend Vanderbilt University, earning her MD and PhD in 1997. Her graduate research in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics investigated the neurophysiology of the corticostriatal synapse. This served as the basis for her interest in neuromodulation, which has been a key aspect of her subsequent research activities.

She completed her internship in general surgery at the University of Pittsburgh in 1998 under the direction of Richard Simmons, MD. Following her internship, she continued residency training in neurological surgery at UPMC and VA hospitals from 1998-2004 under L. Dade Lunsford, MD. She completed a fellowship in pediatric neurosurgery at the Children’s Hospital of Alabama in 2005 under the direction of W. Jerry Oakes, MD.

Dr. Tyler-Kabara joined the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery faculty in 2005 and currently serves as associate professor. She maintains secondary appointments in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and in the Department of Bioengineering, Swanson School of Engineering, where she is on the graduate faculty. She is also a faculty member of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and has served on the executive committee since 2008. She is  a member of the medical staff of UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, UPMC Shadyside and UPMC Presbyterian and has been a medical consultant at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital since 2007.

Dr. Tyler-Kabara directs the Neural Enhancement Laboratory in the Department of Neurological Surgery. The focus of the laboratory is improving function following injury to the central nervous system.

She represents the Department of Neurological Surgery in the Rehab Neural Engineering Laboratory. Dr. Tyler-Kabara’s research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, DARPA, Craig Nielsen and Margot Anderson Foundations, The Copeland Fund and Pedal with Pete. She served as principal investigator for five of those grants. She was the co-principal investigator on the grant that kick-started the brain computer interface human trials at the University of Pittsburgh. She has served as a co-investigator on thirteen grants including the current brain computer interface grants. Current efforts are focused on the use of brain computer interfaces to restore function. The current studies employ microelectrodes recording and stimulation techniques in conjunction with brain computer interfaces for control of neural prosthetics. These studies are conducted in collaboration with the Rehab Neural Engineering Laboratory combining expertise in engineering, neuroscience, and rehabilitation medicine. A new collaboration with the University of Chicago is supported by a NIH U3 award and a collaboration with CMU is supported with a NIH U01 award. Her work was featured on CBS-TV’s 60 Minutes.

Additionally, Dr. Tyler-Kabara has been the director of the Spasticity and Movement Disorder Program at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh since 2006. This program is one of the few multidiscipline movement disorder programs combining the expertise of neurological surgery, orthopedics, physiatry, neurology, occupational and physical therapy and social work. This program is one of the world’s largest pediatric intrathecal baclofen pump experiences with over 900 pump implants.

Dr. Tyler-Kabara was the director of the Surgical Epilepsy Program at the University of Pittsburgh. She provided the support to build both the pediatric and adult epilepsy programs including recruiting new faculty members for each program. She served on the Epilepsy Task Force created in 2012. She has been a member of the medical executive committee at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh since 2015 and was elected treasurer of the professional staff in 2019.

In her clinical work she has pioneered the use of expanded endonasal surgery of the skull base in extremely young children providing them with a minimally invasive alternative for the treatment of a variety of conditions.

Dr. Tyler-Kabara has over 90 publications in peer-reviewed journals. She has over 15 book chapters and 80 published abstracts.

She supervises pediatrics, neurology, and physical medicine residents and fellows on the neurological surgery service and in the Spasticity and Movement Disorder clinic. Dr. Tyler-Kabara won the Department of Neurological Surgery teaching award in 2009 and is actively engaged in teaching medical students, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows in laboratory. She has taught numerous medical school courses including the first year Introduction to Being a Physician. She has been the ILS course director for the Neurosurgery and Head and Neck Dissection since 2007.

Dr. Tyler-Kabara has given 25 local lectures, 20 regional lectures, 10 national invited lectures and eight international invited lectures. Dr. Tyler-Kabara provides lectures each year within the Department of Neurological Surgery and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Specialized Areas of Interest

Cerebral palsy; spasticity; dystonia; movement disorders; epilepsy; pediatric spinal and skull base disorders.

Board Certifications

American Board of Neurological Surgery
American Board of Pediatric Neurosurgery

Hospital Privileges

UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital
UPMC Presbyterian
UPMC Shadyside

Professional Organization Membership

Allegheny County Medical Society
American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Medical Association
American Medical Student Association
American Medical Women’s Association
American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgery
American Society of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery
Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS)
Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Joint Section on Neurotrauma and Critical Care (AANS/CNS)
Joint Section on Pediatric Neurological Surgery
Joint Section on Tumors (AANS/CNS)
North American Skull Base Society
North American Spine Society
Pennsylvania Medical Society
Sigma Xi
Society for Neuroscience
Women in Engineering
Women in Neurosurgery 

Education & Training

BSE, Biomedical and Electrical Engineering, Duke University, 1989
MD, Vanderbilt University, 1997
PhD, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Vanderbilt University, 1997
Residency, Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh, 2004
Fellowship, Pediatric Neurosurgery, University of Alabama, 2005

Honors & Awards

Pittsburgh’s Best Doctors, Pittsburgh Magazine, 2016-19
Castle Connolly Top Doctor, 2018
Ladies Hospital Aid Society Trailblazer Award
Charles Fager Lecturer, Tufts University School of Medicine

Selected Publications

Collinger JL, Kryger MA, Barbara R, Betler T, Bowsher K, Brown EH, Clanton ST, Degenhart AD, Foldes ST, Gaunt RA, Gyulai FE, Harchick EA, Harrington D, Helder JB, Hemmes T, Johannes MS, Katyal KD, Ling GS, McMorland AJ, Palko K, Para MP, Scheuermann J, Schwartz AB, Skidmore ER, Solzbacher F, Srikameswaran AV, Swanson DP, Swetz S, Tyler-Kabara EC, Velliste M, Wang W, Weber DJ, Wodlinger B, Boninger ML. Collaborative approach in the development of high-performance brain-computer interfaces for a neuroprosthetic arm: translation from animal models to human control. Clin Transl Sci 7(1):52-9, 2014.

Wang W, Collinger JL, Degenhart AD, Tyler-Kabara EC, Schwartz AB, Moran DW, Weber DJ, Wodlinger B, Vinjamuri RK, Ashmore RC, Kelly JW, Boninger ML. An electrocorticographic brain interface in an individual with tetraplegia. PLoS 8(2):e55344, 2013.

Collinger JL, Wodlinger B, Downey JE, Wang W, Tyler-Kabara EC, Weber DJ, McMorland AJ, Velliste M, Boninger ML, Schwartz AB. High-performance neuroprosthetic control by an individual with tetraplegia. Lancet 381(9866), 2013.

Chivukula S, Koutourousiou M, Snyderman CH, Gardner PA, Tyler-Kabara EC. Endoscopic endonasal skull base surgery in the pediatric population. Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics 11(3):227-41, 2013.

Thampatty BP, Klamerus MM, Oberly PJ, Feldman KL, Bell MJ, Tyler-Kabara EC, Adelson PD, Clark RSB, Kochanek PM, Poloyac SM. Hypothermia decreases cerebrospinal fluid asymmetric dimethyl arginine levels in children with traumatic brain injury. Pediatr Crit Care Med 14(4):403-412, 2013.

Koutourousiou M, Gardner PA, Fernandez-Miranda JC, Tyler-Kabara EC, Wang EW, Snyderman CH. Endoscopic endonasal surgery for craniopharyngiomas: surgical outcome in 64 patients. J Neurosurg 119(5):1194-207, 2013.

Kirk KA, Shoykhet M, Jeong JH, Tyler-Kabara EC, Henderson MJ, Bell MJ, Fink EL. Dysautonomia after pediatric brain injury. Dev Med Child Neurol 54(8):759-764, 2012. 

Shein SL, Bell MJ, Kochanek PM, Tyler-Kabara E, Wisniewski SR, Feldman K, Makoroff K, Scribano PV, Berger RP. Risk factors for mortality in children with abusive head trauma. Journal of Pediatrics 161(4):716-722 e1, 2012. 

Stippler M, Ortiz V, Adelson PD, Chang Y-F, Tyler-Kabara EC, Wisniewski SR, Fink EL, Kochanek PM, Brown D, Bell MJ. Brain tissue oxygen monitoring after severe traumatic brain injury in children: relationship to outcome and association with other clinical parameters: Clinical article. J Neurosurg Pediatr 10(6):383-91, 2012. 

Su E, Bell MJ, Kochanek PM, Wisniewski SR, Bayır H, Clark RS, Adelson PD, Tyler-Kabara EC, Janesko-Feldman KL, Berger RP. Increased CSF concentrations of myelin basic protein after TBI in infants and children: Absence of significant effect of therapeutic hypothermia. Neurocrit Care 17(3):401-7, 2012.

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

Media Appearances