Kalil G. Abdullah, MD

  • Assistant Professor
  • Director, Translational Neuro-Oncology

Kalil G. Abdullah, MD, MSc, is a neurosurgeon specializing in the treatment of adult brain tumors and is director of translational neuro-oncology at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

Dr. Abdullah treats brain tumors using microsurgery techniques and awake craniotomies to map intricate regions of the brain during surgery. He also uses endoscopic and tubular approaches, intraoperative fluorescence, and laser therapy to provide minimally invasive surgery options to his patients.

Dr. Abdullah is an NIH-funded investigator and directs the department’s Translational Neuro-Oncology Laboratory, developing new drug and treatment targets for brain cancers. He has been the principal investigator for numerous clinical trials for glioma and is actively involved in bringing promising brain tumor drugs from the laboratory to early-stage clinical trials. He has published more than 100 research articles including key neuro oncology advances in journals such as Neuro-Oncology, Cancer Cell, Nature Medicine, and Clinical Cancer Research, and co-edited Glioblastoma, a seminal textbook on malignant gliomas.

Dr. Abdullah earned his medical degree at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, where he was a National Institutes of Health Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholar. He completed a residency in neurological surgery at the University of Pennsylvania and then received advanced training in open and endoscopic neurosurgical oncology through a fellowship at the Wellington Hospital in New Zealand. He completed an additional postdoctoral research fellowship in stem cell biology at the University of Pennsylvania, and holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics.

Specialized Areas of Interest

Brain tumors, hydrocephalus.

Board Certifications

Diplomate of the American Board of Neurological Surgeons

Hospital Privileges

UPMC Presbyterian
UPMC Shadyside

Professional Organization Membership

American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Society for Neuro-Oncology

Education & Training

  • MD, Cleveland Clinic, 2012
  • Postdoc Fellow, University of Pennsylvania, 2017
  • Clinical Fellow, Wellington Regional Hospital, New Zealand, 2018
  • MSc, Health Economics, Policy, and Management, London School of Economics, 2019
  • Neurosurgery Residency, University of Pennsylvania, 2012-19

Honors & Awards

  • Eugene P. Frenkel Scholar in Clinical Medicine, UT Southwestern, 2021
  • Early Clinical Investigator Award, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, 2021
  • Emerging Investigator Award, Academy of Neurological Surgeons, 2020
  • Rising Star Award, Texas Super Doctors, 2019, 2020
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholar, National Institutes of Health, 2008

Research Activities

Dr. Abdullah is a neurosurgeon-scientist who focuses on high grade gliomas and developing novel drug targets for treatment. His work involves leveraging brain tumor tissue to trace and identify metabolic vulnerabilities in brain tumors.

Media Appearances

Vulnerability in Brain Tumors May Open Door to New Treatments
National Cancer Institute
September 26, 2022