Drs. Jacques J. Morcos and Michael Y. Wang Receive Major Appointments in Neurological Surgery

Allan D. Levi, M.D., Ph.D., the recently named Chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery, has appointed two of the department’s faculty members — Jacques J. Morcos, M.D., professor of neurosurgery and otolaryngology, and Michael Y. Wang, M.D., professor of neurosurgery, and physical medicine and rehabilitation — to leadership positions.

Morcos has been named Co-Chair of the department and Chief of Cranial Service at Jackson Memorial Hospital, both positions that were previously held by Roberto C. Heros, M.D., who is currently Chief Medical Officer at Jackson and Resident Program Director.

Morcos, a native of Lebanon, earned his M.D. at the American University of Beirut, followed by several neurosurgical residencies in Beirut and the United Kingdom, and ultimately at the University of Minnesota. He also has held cerebrovascular and skull base fellowships at the University of Florida and the Barrow Neurological Institute, following which he joined the Miller School of Medicine faculty in 1995.

Morcos’ clinical expertise spans all types of brain tumors, including skull base cancer, pituitary tumors, meningiomas, acoustic neuromas and more complex benign and malignant brain tumors, minimally invasive endoscopic surgery, and all aspects of cerebrovascular surgery.

“Jacques is an incredibly well-trained individual, and is internationally recognized for his skills as a skull base surgeon,” said Levi. “As Co-Chair of the department, he will also have a leadership role. He is very involved politically with the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the World Federation of Neurological Societies, with a wealth of experience in organized neurosurgery and running programs. That gives him excellent preparation for the new roles he will be undertaking.”

“Allan and I have been close friends for nearly 20 years, and the future is unquestionably bright because of our common goals and philosophies,” said Morcos. “I expect to help Allan in all aspects of the department, but particularly in taking it to greater international acclaim than it already has. We want our department on the minds of all neurosurgeons seeking a premiere destination for research, education and clinical excellence.

“It is a privilege to be a neurosurgeon, and it gives me a great sense of pride,” he said. “It is a small, yet very impactful specialty that deals with the very seat of human thought, behavior and emotions. Those of us who chose it as a career have been most blessed to live it as a journey of passion, rather than simply work to be accomplished. I look forward, in my new position of leadership, to being able to ‘infect’ the younger generation with the ‘bug’ of academic neurosurgery.”

Wang has been named Chief of Neurosurgery at the University of Miami Hospital and Director of the Neurosurgical Spine Fellowship Program, both positions that were previously held by Levi. He is also assuming the Directorship of the newly created Minimally Invasive Spine Institute.

Wang earned his B.S. and M.D. degrees at Stanford University, followed by residency at the University of Southern California and fellowship at UM/Jackson Memorial Hospital. He was formerly Director of Spinal Surgery at the University of Southern California and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Hospital. He joined the spine program at the Miller School of Medicine faculty in 2007.

Wang’s clinical interests include minimally invasive spine surgery, spinal cord tumors, total disc replacement, spinal reconstruction, syringomyelia, spinal cord injury and surgery for neuropathic pain. His research interests include use of robotics in spinal surgery, resorbable spinal implants, the treatment of cervical myelopathy and the development of new osteobiologic agents to promote spinal fusion.

“Michael is one of those people who is tireless,” said Levi. “He has incredible energy, matched only by his phenomenal training, and he has done nothing but excel in our field since he started his career. He already has a significant presence at UMH and is the ideal candidate for its new Chief of Neurosurgery. As spine fellowship director, he will take what is already one of the largest and most successful programs in the country to the next level. He is an incredibly accomplished spine surgeon, best known for his minimally invasive techniques. It is appropriate that he becomes the first Director of the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute, because that reflects our focus of concentration and the direction in which the department is moving.”

“I’m very excited about the opportunities to continue to grow our Division of Spinal Neurosurgery,” said Wang. “We always strive to provide excellence in patient care, research and education. The coming health care changes will present new challenges and require us to adapt and improve upon our past accomplishments. Under Dr. Levi’s leadership UM is positioned to continue its prominence in the neurosurgical field.

“We plan to move forward in four areas,” he said. “First, we will continue to expand and develop our Spine Center. Second, will move to the next stage of trials for spinal cord injury and degenerative conditions of the spine. Third, we will increase our international outreach in both surgeon training and patient care. And fourth, we will introduce a new and innovative program for “ERAS” (Enhanced Recovery After Surgery) for patients.

“On a personal level, it troubles me that most patients are often fearful of spinal surgery,” Wang said. “I am passionate about changing the experience of surgery for the patient in order to improve rates of recovery, efficacy and safety.”

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