Michael McDowell, MD

  • Chief Resident

Michael McDowell, MD, joined the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery residency program in July of 2014 after graduating from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons medical school. He received undergraduate degrees in biochemistry and Latin dance from Arizona State University in 2005, graduating as valedictorian.

During medical school, Dr. McDowell was elected into Alpha Omega Alpha and received funding to pursue a Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship investigating the mechanisms by which genetic and environmental factors alter aneurysm morphology. He subsequently received funding from the Brain Aneurysm Foundation to continue his work during residency. Dr. McDowell was heavily involved in teaching and community outreach during medical school and was voted clinician of the year for his contributions to the Columbia Student Medical Outreach clinic in Washington Heights.

His current research interests include the alteration of vascular malformations from childhood to adulthood, Chiari malformation, clinical applications of near infrared spectroscopy, and the objectification of clinical outcomes using mobile software platforms. His interests outside of neurosurgery include medical education, dance, and theater. Dr. McDowell is the son of Douglas and Marti McDowell of Iron Mountain, Mich.

Dr. McDowell's publications may be reviewed through the National Library of Medicine’s publication database. 

Specialized Areas of Interest

Healthcare improvement; Chiari malformation; pediatric neurosurgery; cerebrovascular disease; heath software development.

Professional Organization Membership

Allegheny County Medical Society
Alpha Omega Alpha
American Association of Neurological Surgery
AANS Section on the History of Neurological Surgery
AANS Young Neurosurgeons Committee
AANS/CNS Joint Section on Pediatric Neurosurgery
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Pennsylvania Medical Society House of Delegates

Education & Training

  • BS, Biochemistry, Arizona State University, 2009
  • MD, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, 2014

Honors & Awards

  • Gold Medal, Top Gun Surgical Completion, Lumbar Pedicle Screw Placement, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 2017
  • Charlie Kuntz Scholar, AANS/CNS Spine Summit, 2016
  • Copeland Grant Winner, Pittsburgh Foundation, 2015
  • Christopher Getch Chair of Research, Brain Aneurysm Foundation, 2013

Selected Publications

McDowell MM, Blatt JE, Deibert CP, Zwagerman NT, Tempel ZJ, Greene S. Predictors of mortality in children with myelomeningocele and symptomatic Chiari type II malformation. J Neurosurg Pediatr 21(6):587-596, 2018.

McDowell MM, Lee PS, Foster KA, Greene S. The Use of External Ventricular Drainage to Reduce the Frequency of Wound Complications in Myelomeningocele Closure. Pediatr Neurosurg 53(2):100-107, 2018.

Farber H, McDowell MM, Alhourani A, Agarwal N, Friedlander RM. Duraplasty Type as a Predictor of Meningitis and Shunting After Chiari I Decompression. World Neurosurg 118:e778-e783, 2018.

McDowell MM, Zhao Y, Kellner CP, Barton SM, Sussman E, Claassen J, Ducruet AF, Connolly ES. Demographic and clinical predictors of multiple intracranial aneurysms in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage. J Neurosurg 128:961-968, 2018.

Tempel ZJ, McDowell MM, Panczykowski DM, Gandhoke GS, Hamilton DK, Okonkwo DO, Kanter AS. Graft subsidence as a predictor of revision surgery following stand-alone lateral lumbar interbody fusion. J Neurosurg Spine 28-50-56, 2018.

McDowell MM, Alhourani A, Pearce-Smith BA, Mazurkiewicz A, Friedlander RM. The Cost-effectiveness of Post-operative Ketamine in Chiari Decompression. World Neurosurg 110:e599-e604, 2018.

Zhu X, McDowell MM, Newman WC, Mason GE, Greene S, Tamber MS. Severe cerebral edema following nivolumab treatment for pediatric glioblastoma: case report. J Neurosurg Pediatr 19:249-253, 2017.

McDowell MM, Tempel ZJ, Gandhoke GS, Khattar NK, Hamilton DK, Kanter AS, Okonkwo DO. Evolution of Sagittal Imbalance Following Corrective Surgery for Sagittal Plane Deformity. Neurosurgery 81:129-134, 2017.

McDowell MM, Dede O, Bosch P, Tyler-Kabara EC. Absent pedicles in campomelic dysplasia. Childs Nerv Syst 33:987-992, 2017.

McDowell MM, Ducruet AF. Letter to the Editor. "Cured" intracranial dural arteriovenous fistulas. J Neurosurg 125:1323-1324, 2016.

McDowell MM, Zhu X, Agarwal N, Nikiforova MN, Lieberman FS, Drappatz J. Response of relapsed central nervous system hairy cell leukemia to vemurafenib. Leuk Lymphoma57:2952-2954, 2016.

Kennedy BC, Nelp TB, Kelly KM, Phan MQ, Bruce SS, McDowell MM, Feldstein NA, Anderson RC. Delayed resolution of syrinx after posterior fossa decompression without dural opening in children with Chiari malformation Type I. J Neurosurg Pediatr (16)5:599-606, 2015.

Research Activities

Michael McDowell, MD, is conducting a trial of near infrared spectroscopy-based systems that seeks to validate the non-invasive detection of elevated intracranial pressure and cerebral perfusion in pediatric patients with intracranial monitoring. He is also exploring the technical applications of endoscopic technique in diseases of the pediatric skull base and developing a clinical trial dedicated to reducing wound complications in patients with spina bifida. 

Media Appearances

How We Did It: The PITT Medical Student Chapter Course
Summer/Fall 2018
Young Neurosurgeons News