Neurosurgery History and Timeline

The Department of Neurosurgery at UTMB had a long and distinguished record of surgical innovation, training Neurosurgeons in Texas and as a medical resource for Texans. Although a small program in terms of numbers of faculty and residents, the UTMB Neurosurgery program has had a national impact with clinically important research in head injury supported by a large NIH program and training residents who have had distinguished careers in Neurosurgery. 

Some examples of these include Patrick Kelly, who would become Chairman at the Department of Neurosurgery at NYU, Dr. Guy Clifton former Chairman at the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. Of historical interest, Sir Graham Teasdale, from the University of Glasgow spent a year at UTMB as a fellow in head injury research and would later return to the University of Glasgow to eventually become Professor and Chair.

The UTMB Department of Neurosurgery is proud of these historical achievements, which undoubtedly serve as the platform for the development of solid neurosurgical trainees. At the present time and in this highly technological field, our department has incorporated for many years the latest concepts and technological advances in neurosurgery and continues to grow in the development of individuals who will represent professional excellence in our field.

Historic Timeline

Neurosurgery Historic Timeline

The Snodgrass Years (1955-1968)

Samuel R. Snodgrass

Dr. Samuel R. Snodgrass completed a residency in surgery at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (November 1, 1932-March, 1934). While at Brigham, he became interested in neurosurgery and served as Harvey Cushing Fellow. Neurosurgery was established as a Division of Surgery at UTMB in 1937 by Dr. Snodgrass, whom was the first neurosurgeon in Texas to have been fully trained in a neurosurgical residency program, being board certified in 1940. His chief interest was graduate and undergraduate teaching and patient care. His research interests were mainly in the fields of head injury and hydrocephalus. He published 28 scientific articles. A lectureship in Neurological surgery was established in 1974 in his honor.

The Tindall Years (1968-1973)

George Tindall

In 1968, Dr. George Tindall from Duke succeeded Dr. Snodgrass as Chief of the Division. Dr Tindall's major area of interest was pituitary surgery and disorders, and he published numerous articles in this subject and during his Galveston years he actively researched in head injury. He served as an officer for several neurosurgical societies and has been the editor of several important volumes on Neurosurgery. In 1973, Dr. Tindall accepted the position of Chief of Neurosurgery at Emory.

The Grossman Years (1973-1980)

Robert Grossman

Dr. Robert Grossman from the Einstein College of Medicine succeeded Dr. Tindall in 1973. Dr. Grossman performed NIH funded research to study the treatment of physiological disturbances in head injury. In 1980, Dr. Grossman took the position of Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery at Baylor College of Medicine and later became chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and Director of The Methodist Hospital Neurological Institute in Houston.

The Eisenberg Years (1980-1992)

Howard Eisenberg

Dr. Howard Eisenberg was recruited by Dr Grossman in 1975 from Brigham Hospital. He became Chief at UTMB in 1980. Dr Eisenberg was instrumental in the development of the NIH funded Traumatic Coma Data Bank as well as the Magnetoencephalography Laboratory at the Transitional Learning Community in Galveston. He was Professor and Chief of the Division until 1992 when he took the position as Chief at University of Maryland.

The Nauta Years (1993-2008)

Haring Nauta

Dr. Haring Nauta was recruited from Johns Hopkins to become Chief at UTMB. He has published in peer-reviewed journals and invited book chapters on topics such as cerebral aneurysms, subarachnoid hemorrhage and the relationships of the basal ganglia to the limbic system, among others. His research was centered in ischemia protection, neurotropic factors, experimental models of radiosurgery and the mechanisms of pain. Following Hurricane Ike in September of 2008, Dr. Joel T. Patterson, who trained at UTMB, succeeded Dr. Nauta as Chief of the Division.

The Patterson Years (2008-2020)

Patterson, Joel T., MD, FAANS

Dr. Joel T. Patterson specializes in the treatment of spinal disorders (degenerative, traumatic and oncological). He has vast experience in the treatment of brain and spinal cord tumors, neurocritical care patients and pain disorders.

The Kan Years (2020-Present)


Dr. Kan pursued neurosurgical training at the University of Utah where he also completed a Masters of Public Health. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada prior to starting his endovascular fellowship at the University at Buffalo. Upon the completion of his fellowship, he joined the faculty at University of South Florida and served as the director of cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurgery. He was subsequently recruited to Baylor College of Medicine as an associate professor and the director of cerebrovascular surgery. He was recently appointed as Professor and Inaugural Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at University of Texas Medical Branch. His research interests include clinical trials for new neuroendovascular devices, intravascular imaging, neuroprotection for acute ischemic stroke, and intra-arterial cell-based therapy for malignant brain tumors.