L. Dade Lunsford, MD

  • Lars Leksell Distinguished Professor
  • Director, Center for Image-Guided Neurosurgery

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.

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 training under Peter Jannetta. Following a one-year fellowship in stereotactic and functional neurosurgery at the Karolinska institute in Stockholm, Sweden—where he studied with professors Lars Leksell and Erik-Olof Backlund—he joined the Department of Neurological Surgery faculty in 1981.

[Read also Lunsford Named Recipient of Patient Award.]

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 (TIPAC) 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 more than 1,400 published articles, abstracts, and book chapters and has served as the editor or co-editor of 16 books.

Dr. Lunsford served as department chairman for ten years, before stepping down in July of 2006 to devote more time to his clinical work, clinical investigation, and resident and fellow training. He also served as the department residency director from 1987 until 2020.

Since 2012, he has served as a team physician (neurosurgeon) for the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins.

In 2016, Dr. Lunsford received the Cushing Award for Technical Excellence and Innovation in Neurosurgery from the American Association of Neurological Surgery. In December of 2017, he received the prestigious Herbert Olivecrona Award—known by some as the “Nobel Prize of Neurosurgery”—from the Karolinska Institute & Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. In April of 2018, he was honored to present the 2018 Van Wagenen Lecture during the American Association of Neurological Surgeons Annual Meeting in New Orleans. On June 19, 2020, via live stream, he delivered the inaugural Dan Leksell Lecture at the 4th IRRF/ISRS Biennial Radiosurgery Research and Education meeting.

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

UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
UPMC Presbyterian
UPMC Shadyside

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 Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery (president, 1995-97)
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Florida Medical Association
Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation, Data Safety Monitoring Board
International Radiosurgery Research Foundation, Founding Chairman
International Stereotactic Radiosurgery Society, (Co-Founder and President, 1991-1993)
North American Skull Base Society
Pennsylvania Medical Society
Pennsylvania Neurosurgical Society
Society of Neurological Surgeons

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

  • Pittsburgh’s Best Doctors, Pittsburgh Magazine, 2012-21
  • Excellence in Patient Experience Award, UPMC, 2018
  • Van Wagenen Lecturer, American Association of Neurological Surgeons Annual Meeting, 2018
  • Herbert Olivecrona Award, Karolinska Institute & Karolinska University Hospital, 2017
  • AANS Cushing Award for Technical Excellence and Innovation in Neurosurgery, 2016
  • Best Doctors in America, Pittsburgh Business Times, 2016
  • American Most Honored Professionals, Top 1%, 2016
  • America’s Top Doctors for Cancer, Castle Connolly Medical, Ltd., 2005-16
  • Best Doctors in America, 2005-16
  • Top Doctor, The Global Directory of Who’s Who, Neurological Surgery, 2013-16
  • Best Doctors in America database, 2010-16
  • Who’s Who In America, Marquis, 2003, 2006-14
  • Pioneers in Radiosurgery Award, Leksell Gamma Knife Society, 2010
  • Leading Health Professionals of the World, 2010
  • Faculty Teaching Award, Department of Neurosurgery 1997, 1999, 2000, 2010
  • Guide to America’s Top Surgeons, 2006-09
  • 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
  • Distinguished Professor, University of Pittsburgh, 2007
  • Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, 2007
  • Congress of Neurological Surgeons Honored Guest, 2007
  • AANS Young Neurosurgeon Award, 2005
  • Academic Keys Who’s Who in Medical Sciences Education, 2005
  • Lars Leksell Provost Lecture, 2000
  • International Stereotactic Radiosurgery Jacob Fabrikant Award, 1997
  • William S. McEllroy Award, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 1997
  • Good Housekeeping Best Doctors, 1996
  • William P. Van Wagenen Fellowship, AANS, 1980
  • Phi Beta Kappa - University of Virginia, 1970
  • BA with High Honors - University of Virginia, 1970

Selected Publications

Niranjan A, Lunsford LD, Richardson RM. Current Concepts in Movement Disorder Management, Karger, 2018.

Harrison G, Kano H, Lunsford LD, Flickinger JC, Kondziolka D. Quantitative tumor volumetric responses after Gamma Knife radiosurgery for meningiomasJ 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 schwannomasNeurosurgery 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 studyJ 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 studyJ 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.

Media Appearances

More About Steroids for Sepsis
February 1, 2019
NEJM Journal Watch Audio

Ask the Expert: Can Neurosurgery Residency Be Shorter Than 7 Years?
Spring 2018
CNS Congress Quarterly

Donor Nancy Dunlap
March 7, 2017
University of Pittsburgh PittGiving

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
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.