Alumnus Profile
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Summer 2010 issue (pdf)

Philip E. Stieg, MD '83, PhD

Philip Stieg, MD ’83, PhD
Philip Stieg, MD ’83, PhD

Philip E. Stieg, MD ’83, PhD, is an accomplished surgeon, educator, administrator, media commentator and radio host, but things may have turned out differently had he been a better tennis player.

“I’ve always enjoyed the game,” he said, “but wasn’t good enough to make it a career or I probably would have.”

Instead, he became a neurosurgeon with expertise in cerebral vascular and skull base tumor surgery and in the last 10 years, has built a leading neurosurgery department in New York City. As Professor and Chairman of Neurological Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and Neurosurgeon-in-Chief at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Dr. Stieg oversees faculty neurosurgeons and neuroscientists gaining acclaim for innovations such as gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease and a groundbreaking Avastin clinical trial for glioma patients.

Currently, he is developing plans for the Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center, New York City’s first “hospital within a hospital,” in which teams of neurosurgeons, neurologists, medical staff and neuroscientists will provide a new model of integrative care to improve patient experience and outcomes. The center will officially launch in fall 2011, but patients are already benefitting from the new approach, Dr. Stieg said.

“I love taking care of patients,” he said. “There’s no greater feeling that I have than when a patient wakes up from a surgical procedure that I’ve performed, and they smile, and they realize that they’re alive and all their neurological function is stable.”

Dr. Stieg grew up in Milwaukee and remembers watching Ben Casey, a drama featuring a neurosurgeon on the ABC network in the early sixties. “That show didn’t make me want to be a surgeon,” he said, laughing, “but one thing I’d say about it is we do a lot better than Ben Casey did!”


With a PhD in Anatomy and Neuroscience from the Albany Medical College of Union University and an MD from the Medical College, he completed his residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.

In 1989, he was appointed Instructor in the Department of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and became Associate Chief of the Division of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, an Associate of the Department of Neurosurgery at The Children’s Hospital of Boston and Clinical Associate in Neurosurgery at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Harvard was an excellent place to begin my career,” he said. “Everyone was bright and hard-working, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

He assumed his current duties in 2000 and lives in Manhattan. Throughout his career, he has concentrated on research in the areas of cerebral protection and restorative function. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 published works and has had editorial responsibilities with journals such as Neurosurgery and The New England Journal of Medicine.

He has built a team of neuroscientists at Weill Cornell who are pioneering innovative treatments for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and malignant brain tumors. As a professor in Cornell’s Skull Base Laboratory, he works to improve techniques such as 3-D imaging that help facilitate endoscopic surgery.

He created, and for several years hosted, a public radio show called “How to Save Your Life,” interviewing a broad range of medical experts. He is a frequent guest and commentator on network news channels, including CNN and ABC.

Dr. Stieg has received numerous awards and honors, including citations in “Who’s Who in Health and Medical Services” and “The Best Doctors in Boston, New York and America.” New York magazine regularly names him one of the city’s “best doctors.” Additionally, his outreach efforts have taken Cornell’s neurological expertise to China, Qatar, Tanzania and other international locations.

Aside from his many professional accomplishments, Dr. Stieg said, “my greatest joy is spending time with my kids Nicholas, 18, and Claire, 17, and helping to nurture their development and interests.”



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