Nader Sanai, MD

Skip Navigation

Advanced Search

Nader Sanai, MD


Nader Sanai, MD
Director, Neurosurgical Oncology
Director, Barrow Brain Tumor Research Center

Dr. Nader Sanai is a neurosurgical oncologist who has been internationally recognized for his clinical expertise and research efforts dedicated to the treatment of brain tumors. Dr. Sanai’s clinical practice is devoted entirely to patients with tumors of the brain and spine, including those in high-risk areas. He also has extensive experience using intraoperative mapping to maximize tumor removal while preserving crucial structures controlling motor and language function. Gliomas, meningiomas, metastatic tumors, and complex tumors of the skull base are just some of the tumor types he routinely treats using both operative and radiosurgery techniques.

As the Director of the Barrow Brain Tumor Research Center (BBTRC), Dr. Sanai oversees all clinically directed brain tumor research at Barrow Neurological Institute, enabling the program to pioneer new clinical trials for patients with brain tumors. Within the BBTRC, Dr. Sanai also serves as the Principal Investigator of the Laboratory for Stem Cell Neuro-Oncology, which is funded by over a dozen external granting agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Sanai is one of only a handful of neurosurgeons in the United States serving as the Principal Investigator of a prestigious NIH R01 grant.

Dr. Sanai attended the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), where he graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in French Literature and a Bachelor of Science in Physiology and Neuroscience. He obtained his Doctorate in Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), where he also completed his residency in Neurological Surgery. In 2009, Dr. Sanai joined Barrow Neurological Institute to complete a clinical fellowship in skull-base surgery with Dr. Robert F. Spetzler. He was then recruited by Dr. Spetzler to join Barrow as Director of Neurosurgical Oncology.


Education, Training, and Previous Positions

  • 2009-2010: Fellowship, Barrow Neurological Institute, Skull Base Surgery
  • 2007-2009: Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Neural Stem Cell Biology
  • 2004-2009: Residency, UCSF, Neurological Surgery
  • 2003-2004: Internship, UCSF, General Surgery
  • 1998-2003: MD with thesis, UCSF
  • 1994-1998: BS with thesis, University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Animal Physiology and Neuroscience summa cum laude
  • 1994-1998: BA, UCSD, French Literature, summa cum laude

Selected Professional Memberships and Appointments

  • Study Chair, Barrow 5-ALA Intraoperative Confocal Evaluation (BALANCE) Trial
  • Co-Director, Brain Tumor Tissue Bank, Barrow Neurological Institute
  • Member, St. Joseph’s Hospital Cancer Center Executive Council
  • American Association of Cancer Research
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • American Association of Neurological Surgeons
  • Congress of Neurological Surgeons
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • American Brain Tumor Association
  • National Brain Tumor Foundation
  • Associate Editor, BMC Cancer
  • Ad hoc reviewer, The New England Journal of Medicine, Neurosurgery, Journal of Neuro-Oncology, Neuro-Oncology, Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Brain, Annals of Neurology, Frontiers in Neurogenesis, Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery


Selected Honors and Awards

  • 2010: Preuss Award, Congress of Neurological Surgeons
  • 2010: National Brain Tumor Foundation Mahaley Award, American Association of Neurological Surgeons
  • 2009: Honorable Mention, 2009 Academy Award, American Academy of Neurological Surgery
  • 2009: Howard Naffziger Resident of the Year Award, UCSF Department of Neurological Surgery
  • 2007: Guest Editor, Neurosurgery Clinics of North America, Neural Stem Cells Issue
  • 2007: Kaiser Award for Clinical Research, San Francisco Neurological Society
  • 2005: Invited Lecturer, Frye-Halloran Symposium on Neuro-Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Neurological Surgery
  • 2004: Edwin F. Boldrey Award for Basic Science Research, San Francisco Neurological Society
  • 1999: Dean’s Research Prize Finalist, UCSF
  • 1998-2003: Medical Scholars Program, UCSF
  • 1997: Senior of the Year, UCSD
  • 1997-present: Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society
  • 1994-1998: Provost’s Honors, UCSD
  • 1994-1998: Department of Biology Honors Program, UCSD
  • 1994-1998: Thurgood Marshall College Honors Program, UCSD


Selected Publications

  1. Sanai N, Nguyen T, Ihrie RA, Mirzadeh Z, Tsai HH, Wong M, Gupta N, Berger MS, Huang E, Garcia-Verdugo JM, Rowitch DH, Alvarez-Buylla A. Corridors of migrating neurons in the human brain and their decline during infancy. Nature. Sep 28;478(7369):382-6.

  2. Sanai N, Polley MY, McDermott MW, Parsa AT, Berger MS. An extent of resection threshold for newly diagnosed glioblastomas. J Neurosurg. Mar 18 2011.

  3. Sanai N, Sughrue ME, Shangari G, Chung K, Berger MS, McDermott MW. Risk profile associated with convexity meningioma resection in the modern neurosurgical era. J Neurosurg. May 2010;112(5):913-919.

  4. Sanai N, Polley MY, Berger MS. Insular glioma resection: assessment of patient morbidity, survival, and tumor progression. J Neurosurg. Jan 2010;112(1):1-9.

  5. Sanai N, McDermott MW. A modified far-lateral approach for large or giant meningiomas of the posterior fossa. J Neurosurg. May 2010;112(5):907-912.

  6. Sanai N, Mirzadeh Z, Berger MS. Functional outcome after language mapping for glioma resection. N Engl J Med. Jan 3 2008;358(1):18-27.

  7. Sanai N, Berger MS. Glioma extent of resection and its impact on patient outcome. Neurosurgery. Apr 2008;62(4):753-764; discussion 264-756.

  8. Sanai N, Alvarez-Buylla A, Berger MS. Neural stem cells and the origin of gliomas. N Engl J Med. Aug 25 2005;353(8):811-822.

  9. Sanai N, Tramontin AD, Quiñones-Hinojosa A, Barbaro NM, Gupta N, Kunwar S, Lawton MT, McDermott MW, Parsa AT, Manuel-García Verdugo J, Berger MS, Alvarez-Buylla A. Unique astrocyte ribbon in adult human brain contains neural stem cells but lacks chain migration. Nature. Feb 19 2004;427(6976):740-744.

View complete list of publications on PubMed

Bottom of Navigation

Legal & Privacy Notices


Payment Assistance

Contact Us

Hospital Accreditation

© 2015 Dignity Health

Barrow Neurological Institute
350 W. Thomas Road
Phoenix, AZ 85013
(602) 406-3000