Neurosurgery Residency

Message from the Chairman
Dear Applicant,

We welcome your interest in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Selecting and being accepted at a residency program to match your desires and abilities is one of the most important milestones of your neurosurgical journey. You will find information about the University of Illinois at Chicago and our Department, with its clinical, teaching, and research facilities. Our educational mission aims at illuminating the path for knowledge and helping our trainees become active contributors to the science and practice of neurological surgery.

Our faculty, residents, and staff are available to help you gain a thorough understanding of our program and allow you to determine how our environment will enable you to become a leading member of the neurosurgical community. We look forward to assisting you in your quest to join this exciting field.

Fady T. Charbel, MD
Professor and Head

Explore Neurosurgery

Our faculty members have been mentioned in several news articles and videos in the media. Select videos and news articles are shown for your viewing. Some of our interesting operative cases and educational lectures may also be found below. Please feel free to browse UIC Neurosurgery’s official Instagram page at the link provided.


The Comprehensive Stroke Center at UI Health

This is Personal: UI Health — Comprehensive Stroke Care

Dr. Alaraj treats stroke patients and wants to raise awareness for the devastating disease

A look into the future of neuro-endovascular treatment….

Educational Videos

EC-IC Bypass: The Art and the Logic by Dr. Fady Charbel

Getting the Brain to Stop the Pain Neuromodulation What is it Why do it and when

Operative Videos

Carotid-Vertebral Bypass

Clipping of a ruptured ACA aneurysm with right A1–A2 sectioning and reanastomosis

Clipping of bilat MCA & a coiled ACOM aneurysm thru a modified lat supraorbital

Internship (PGY1)

The PGY1 year consists of several fundamental skills rotations. This includes one month of anesthesiology where residents have exposure to anesthetic management of patients undergoing neurosurgical procedures. One month is dedicated towards general surgery. More specifically, residents rotate on the trauma surgery service at Advocate Christ Medical Center which is a high-volume level one trauma center. One month is spent on neuropathology where our residents work one on one with our director of Neuropathology. Residents typically prepare for and complete Step 3 of the USMLE during this time. Two months are spent on the neurology services including stroke, general neurology, epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) and outpatient EMG/NCS.
The remainder of the intern year are dedicated to neurosurgical critical care and the operating room. 5 months are spent in our 22-bed neurosciences ICU where trainees become familiar with the intensive management of patients with a wide variety of neurological conditions. One month is spent on night float where the resident is paired with a more senior colleague to become accustomed to taking overnight call. The remaining month is spent in the operating room.

Junior Residency (PGY2,3)

The focus of the junior residency to further develop and expand upon skills learned in the neurosciences ICU and to build on basic operative skills. During the PGY2 year, Approximately 3-4 months are dedicated to the neurosurgical critical care. A 3 month endovascular rotation is also completed. The remainder of PGY2 is spent in the operating room learning basic operative procedures. Residents take overnight call no more than 1:3 nights and this typically ranges from 1:3 to 1:5 depending on the number of residents on service.
During the PGY3 year, residents spend more time in the operating room learning general neurosurgery procedures with a particular focus on spine surgery, peripheral nerve surgery, pain/functional procedures, and basic cranial surgery. 3 months are spent at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago in Pediatric Neurosurgery and another 3 months are spent at one of our affiliated medical centers with a particular emphasis on neurosurgical trauma. Outpatient clinic experience in spine, tumor, pain/ functional, and general neurosurgery clinics is interspersed throughout the junior years. The PGY3 resident will also take the ABNS primary examination for practice.

Senior Residency (PGY4,6)

The senior resident gains increasing responsibility for operative procedures and access to a more complex case-mix including complex spine and cranial surgery. The resident also takes on an active teaching role both in and out of the OR for the more junior residents. The PGY4 resident will rotate for an additional 3 months at one of our affiliated medical centers to gain more exposure to spine and cranial trauma. In addition, the ABNS primary examination is taken for credit this year. The resident functions in an increasingly independent manner, serving as a prelude to the official Chief Resident year.

Selective Rotation (PGY5)

The PGY5 year is typically dedicated to elective experiences. In general, one of five selective tracks are pursued: basic science or clinical research, enfolded fellowship, obtaining advanced degree, or additional training in a subspecialty field. The selected experience may occur in the PGY5, 6 or 7 year dependent on individual track and career goals. The scientific resources of the Department of Neurosurgery, as well as the University of Illinois, are available to the resident throughout this time.

Chief Residency (PGY7)

As a PGY7 resident, the trainee functions as the chief of the service. He/she obtain a full range of experience in cerebrovascular surgery, microsurgery through complex cranial cases, and additional experience in complex spine surgery.The Chief Resident performs a large and varied number of cases while assuming a prominent teaching role for the residents and medical students on service.


More information coming soon!

Academic Facilities

  • Neuropsychiatric Institute
  • The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine

Clinical Training Sites

  • The University of Illinois at Chicago Hospital and Clinic
  • Surgical Innovations and Training Laboratory
  • Advocate Christ Medical Center
  • Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Section 1: Academic Facilities

Neuropsychiatric Institute

The University established the Neuropsychiatric Institute (NPI), dedicated to the study of the neurosciences, in 1939. It was the first institute of its kind in the United States and promoted many advances in the fields of Neurosurgery, Neurology, and Psychiatry. The Department of Neurosurgery has included such illustrious figures as Dr. Eric Oldberg (the first Department Head), Dr. Paul Bucy, and Dr. Percival Bailey.

The NPI, completely renovated in 1995, houses the Neurosurgery administrative offices and research laboratories, as well as the Departments of Neurology & Rehabilitation and Psychiatry. The building also includes state-of-the-art microsurgical and neuropathology laboratories, closed-circuit television connections to the hospital operating rooms, a neuroscience library, and a well-equipped auditorium (converted from an original operating room amphitheater). The interventional neuroradiologists have offices in the building, as well as a reading room for review of imaging studies.

The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine

The University of Illinois at Chicago is located on the west side of the city, near Chicago’s “Loop” and within easy reach of all of Chicago’s cultural, educational, and entertainment attractions. It is one of three campuses of the University of Illinois (the other two are in Springfield and Champaign-Urbana). The medical school at the University of Illinois is the largest in the United States, graduating nearly 180 students each year at the Chicago campus alone and more at other campuses across the state. Research is a primary focus, with significant funding from the National Institutes of Health as well as from other sources. The University of Illinois Medical School is widely regarded as a leader in producing educators, medical practitioners, and scientific investigators.

Section 2: Clinical Training Sites

The University of Illinois at Chicago Hospital and Clinic

The University Hospital serves as our primary teaching site during the residency program. The Medical Center includes a near-500-bed hospital as well as more than 40 primary care and specialty clinics. Its state-of- the-art facilities include a newly built Outpatient Care Center, a 3-Tesla MRI, two angiographic suites, endovascular hybrid operating room, and a dedicated neurosurgical unit that includes a 22-bed Neurosurgical ICU and a step-down floor. The Medical Center is a major referral center, attracting cases from around the world as well as from the entire U.S. Midwest region.

The Neurosurgery Department, in addition to serving the local community, attracts specialty cases including EC-IC bypass, complex aneurysms, skull base tumors, intractable epilepsy, pain management, and skull base and spinal cord tumors. Many community neurosurgeons throughout the Midwest refer their patients to us for specialized care. Our faculty includes recognized experts in cerebrovascular surgery, neuroendovascular procedures, neuro-oncology, spinal neurosurgery, peripheral nerve surgery, pediatric neurosurgery, pain management and movement disorders. The Department also collaborates with other services  in the medical center to provide multi-disciplinary care for our patients, including stereotactic radiosurgery (Radiation Oncology), craniofacial surgery (The Craniofacial Center), pituitary and skull base tumors (ENT), stroke and critical care (Neurology).

Advocate Christ Medical Center

Advocate Christ Medical Center (ACMC) is a 788-bed teaching hospital with a level one trauma designation and a comprehensive stroke center accreditation . The hospital has more than 105,000 patient visits annually and serves as a major referral center. Located in Oak Lawn, ACMC is a short drive from downtown and has a catchment area which encompasses both blunt trauma from more suburban areas as well as penetrating trauma in the more densely populated urban parts of the city. Residents spent time at ACMC in their intern year on the trauma surgery service and during the junior residency focusing on neurosurgical trauma.

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Lurie Children’s hospital serves as a training site for junior residents at UIC as well as residents of other Chicago programs. Ranked the number one children’s hospital in Illinois by US News and World Report, Lurie’s has 360 beds and caters to a wide variety of patients locally, regionally and internationally. Trainees are exposed  to a wide variety of pediatric neurosurgical pathology.

How To Apply

Thank you for your interest in our residency program. Applicants may submit documentation via the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) and Electronic Resident Application Service (ERAS). We are fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) for a total complement of eleven residents. We alternate between taking one and two PGY1 residents each year.

We evaluate prospective applicants in a comprehensive process based on multiple criteria. Applicants are assessed with respect to academic accomplishments, USMLE scores, personal statement, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities and  interpersonal skills. Applicants who are deemed qualified based on the above criteria are selected for an interview. We typically hold three interview dates and applicants are extended an invitation around mid-October. Our interview process begins in the late afternoon with program presentations followed by transportation to the dinner venue. Individual interviews and hospital tours are conducted the following day.

After the completion of our interviews, both our program and applicants submit final rank lists to the NRMP. Applicants will be notified of their match results during match day in mid-March.

Further questions can be directed to our residency program coordinator:
Avis Foster
Telephone: 312-996-8741

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I apply to the Neurosurgery Residency Program?

All applicants must apply directly to the ERAS website at:

Does the program offer PGY-1 positions or must I apply separately?

The PGY-1 year of training in Neurological Surgery has become a categorical component of neurosurgical residency as of July 1, 2009. Therefore, you will not need to apply separately for PGY-1 positions. Submit your application directly to ERAS to participate in the neurosurgical matching program.

When will the program start accepting applications and what is the application deadline?

Applicants must register to ERAS to complete their applications. Applicants may select programs, but CANNOT apply to residency programs before September 1, 2015. Application deadline for the UIC Neurosurgery program is October 1, 2015.

Which documents should be attached with the Common Application Form (CAF)?

USLME scores/transcripts, medical school transcripts, photo, 3 letters of recommendation, Dean’s letter, Curriculum Vitae, personal statement, ECFMG (IMGs). The application will not be considered complete until all documents are submitted.

What are the USLME scores cut-offs for application to your program?

We do not have a predetermined score requirement but rather look at the various aspects of a candidate’s application to get an overall perspective. Applicants with low scores are less likely to be competitive for an interview.

Is USLME Step 2 required before applying?

Completion of Step 2 for US medical student is preferred at the time of your application, but is not an absolute requirement. For IMGs completion of Step 1 and Step 2 is a requirement to obtain ECFMG certification, and therefore, must be completed prior to application.

Does your program ever accept International Medical Graduates (I.M.G.)?


Does your program sponsors visa for the I.M.G.s?

The only visa the program is able to sponsor is the J-1 visa which is sponsored through ECFMG. If you are an IMG, you should familiarize yourself in detail with the J-1 visa, and its implications.

Have any out of match positions been offered at your program in the last few years?


Do you require any U.S. clinical experience for I.M.G.s?

U.S. clinical experience is not an absolute requirement for application. However, it is considered an important component of the application for IMGs.

Is your hospital or medical institution university affiliated?

Yes, we are affiliated with the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Where can I find out more information about your program?

A brochure describing the residency program is posted on the Residency Section of the website.

What are the requirements to be considered for your program?

All aspects of a candidate’s application are factored in the decision to offer an interview. These include USMLE scores, medical school evaluations, letters of recommendation, research and clinical experience. Medical student advisors at your own institution can provide guidance as to the appropriateness of your application for a Neurosurgical program.

Where can I find additional information about the Neurosurgery Residency Applications?

 Current Residents (2019-2020)


Mandana Behbahani, MD

Year: PGY-7
Undergraduate College: Arizona State University
Medical School: University of Arizona College of Medicine

Nauman S. Chaudhry, MD

Year: PGY-7
Undergraduate College: University of Miami
Medical School: University of Miami Miller School of Medicine


Amanda Kwasnicki, MD

Year: PGY-6
Undergraduate College: Stoney Brook University
Medical School: New York Medical College

Laura Stone McGuire, MD

Year: PGY-6
Undergraduate College: University of Georgia
Medical School: University of Miami


Amanda Kwasnicki, MD

Year: PGY-6
Undergraduate College: Stoney Brook University
Medical School: New York Medical College

Laura Stone McGuire, MD

Year: PGY-6
Undergraduate College: University of Georgia
Medical School: University of Miami


Zayed Almadidy, MD

Year: PGY-4
Undergraduate College: Winthrop University
Medical School: Medical University of South Carolina

Peter Theiss, MD

Year: PGY-4
Undergraduate College: Dartmouth College
Medical School: Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons


Richard Bram, MD

Year: PGY-3
Undergraduate College: Johns Hopkins University
Medical School: Stony Brook University School of Medicine

Morteza Sadeh, MD, PhD

Year: PGY-3
Undergraduate College: York University-Toronto
Medical School: Chicago Medical School


Sophia Peng, MD

Year: PGY-2
Undergraduate College: University of Michigan
Medical School: Albany Medical College

John Souter, MD

Year: PGY-2
Undergraduate College: University of Notre Dame
Medical School: Loyola University Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine


Charles Pierce, MD

Year: PGY-1
Undergraduate College:
Medical School:

Current Fellows and Recent Fellowship Graduates

Cerebrovascular Neurosurgery 

Current Fellow
Matthew Koch, M.D.
Residency Program: Massachusetts General Hospital 

Alfred Pokmeng See, M.D.
Residency Program: Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Current Position: John Shillito Staff Associate/Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellow, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA 

Christopher Stapleton, M.D.
Residency Program: Massachusetts General Hospital
Current Position: Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA  

Endovascular Neurosurgery

Current Fellow
Jason Choi, M.D.
Residency Program: University of Chicago 

Denise Brunozzi, M.D.
Residency: Universita Politecnica delle Marche (Neurosurgery)
Current Position: Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery Fellow, University of Illinois-Chicago, Chicago, IL 

Sea Mi Park, M.D.
Residency Program: Albany Medical College (Neurology)
Fellowship Program: Rutgers University (Vascular Neurology)
Current Position: Lafayette General Hospital, Lafayette, LA 

Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery

Current Fellow
Denise Brunozzi, M.D.
Residency: Universita Politecnica delle Marche (Neurosurgery) 

Ryan Kochanski, M.D.
Residency: Rush University Medical Center
Current Position: Functional Neurosurgery Fellow, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 

Abdulbaki Kozan, M.D. 

Spine Surgery 

Denise Brunozzi, M.D.
Residency: Universita
Politecnica delle Marche (Neurosurgery)
Current Position: Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery Fellow, University of Illinois-Chicago, Chicago, IL  

Cristian  Gragnaniello, M.D.
Residency: University of Naples, Naples, Italy
Current Position: Skull Base Fellow, Swedish Neuroscience Institute, Seattle, WA