This month the PNA Spotlight focuses on William Couldwell, MD, PhD, who serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Utah. He is also a member of the PNA’s Scientific Advisory Panel. He studied at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, majoring in physical chemistry and biology. Dr. Couldwell attended medical school at McGill University in Montreal. He did internship in surgery at the University of Southern California and completed a neurosurgical residency there in 1989. He served as a research fellow in neuroimmunology at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital and research fellow in the neurosurgical service in Lausanne, Switzerland. He returned to U-S-C as an assistant professor of neurological surgery in 1991, where he stayed for four years. Later he became professor and chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at New York Medical College, as well as program director of neurosurgical residency in 1997. In 2001 he became professor and chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Utah. Dr. Couldwell was kind enough to answer some questions from the PNA. His answers follow.
• What inspired you to choose your career path?
I attended medical school at McGill University in Montreal. Professor Jules Hardy was a faculty member and was one of my mentors. He was an inspirational figure. I then trained in neurosurgery with Martin Weiss in Los Angeles, a fantastic surgeon and educator. Both of these mentors were pituitary surgeons and fostered my interest in pituitary tumor surgery.
• What is the primary focus of your work/research?
We are actively pursuing studies in novel mechanisms of growth arrest in pituitary tumors and meningioma. I am also interested in optimizing outcomes following surgery for these tumors with novel approaches
• What do you consider to be the future of your field?
Specific medical therapy targeting pathways necessary for growth of these tumors.
• What should patients know about your field/what deserves more recognition/awareness?
While most pituitary tumors are benign and eminently treatable, a minority are very challenging to manage despite being labelled as benign tumors. Examples include recurrent Cushing’s disease and acromegaly, diseases which have significant morbidity and can shorten life expectancy.
• What would you like to convey about yourself to your patients?
We have a multidisciplinary team approach to the management of pituitary tumors and have significant clinical experience.
• Why did you get involved with the PNA; what is the extent of your involvement?
I have known (PNA Chairman emeritus) Robert Knutzen for many years and have appreciated his relentless efforts in promoting the importance of pituitary issues, including multimodal management of pituitary tumors. He has been a champion for improving care in this domain.