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Cedars-Sinai Neurosurgeon Keith Black to Chair New Department

Los Angeles - Dec. 18, 2006 - Neurosurgeon Keith L. Black, MD, who nearly 10 years ago brought his surgical skills and research interests to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, has been named chairperson of the medical center’s newly established Department of Neurosurgery. At Cedars-Sinai since 1997, Black holds the Ruth and Lawrence Harvey Chair in Neuroscience, and directs the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute which he helped to establish.

The announcement comes several months after the hospital’s medical staff and Board of Directors elevated the former Division of Neurosurgery to full departmental status and began a nationwide search for a chairperson. Black served as interim chair during that time.

“Leadership in the field of correctly diagnosing and treating intracranial conditions requires a highly integrated, multidisciplinary team approach as well as a patient-centered environment. The creation of the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai, with Dr. Black at the helm, will strengthen and expand our neurosurgery program at the medical center, which is already among the nation’s best -- especially in the field of brain tumors,” said Thomas Priselac, president and chief executive officer of Cedars-Sinai Health System.

“Dr. Black’s national leadership in patient care, research and teaching is extraordinary,” said Shlomo Melmed, MD, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and director of the Burns and Allen Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai. “He is also an outstanding administrator who is able to build strong programs and develop new partnerships. ,” Melmed said.

When Black joined Cedars-Sinai in July 1997, the medical center was performing about 26 craniotomies for malignant brain tumors per year. Now, with an enhanced team of neurosurgeons, physicians and support personnel; an ever-growing array of sophisticated equipment; research teams that work hand-in-hand with clinicians; and a reputation that draws patients from around the world, Cedars-Sinai neurosurgeons perform about 120 major brain surgeries in any given month.

The department provides surgical intervention for diseases of the brain and spinal cord, but Black has long had a special interest in developing therapies for brain tumors, particularly malignant cancers for which there has been no effective treatment. He and his Cedars-Sinai colleagues have developed an immune-based vaccine used in the treatment of the most aggressive form of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, and Black is credited with dramatically improving the delivery of chemotherapy to brain tumors across the blood-brain barrier. In recognition of his groundbreaking blood-brain barrier work, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of the National Institutes of Health presented its prestigious Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award to Black in 2000.

After graduating from high school in 1975, Black earned both his undergraduate and medical  degrees in six years through an accelerated program at the University of Michigan. He completed his internship in general surgery in 1982 and his residency in neurological surgery in 1987, both at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor. He then joined UCLA where he rose to become Professor of Surgery and Neurology before joining Cedars-Sinai in 1997.

Black has published more than 225 scientific articles and chapters and has presented his findings at 350 national and international meetings. He published his first scientific paper at age 17, earning the Westinghouse Science Award, and his subsequent work and ingenuity have been the subject of numerous broadcast and print media stories.