PNA Spotlight: Dr. Brian Williams

Brian WilliamsThis month the PNA Spotlight focuses on Dr. Brian Williams, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. Dr. Williams earned his medical degree at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He then did a residency in neurological surgery at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, then returned to Houston for a fellowship in neurosurgical oncology at MD Anderson Hospital. Dr. Williams took some questions from the PNA; and his answers are below.

Tell us about your specialty.

I chose my career because I enjoy taking care of people. I went to college with the idea of becoming a research biologist, and after spending several years in a lab decided that I didn't find this path fulfilling. During the following summer, I spent time shadowing a physician and working for him. I discovered medicine had the right mixture of science, problem solving and personal interaction for me.

What is the focus of your research?

I am the director of neurosurgical oncology, skull base surgery, pituitary surgery and the brain tumor program at the University of Louisville, Department of Neurosurgery. I work with my colleagues to provide the community of Louisville and the surrounding region with world-class treatment options. My research focuses on identifying the molecular drivers of skull base and pituitary disorders with a focus on developing novel medical treatments in order hopefully decrease the number of patients who require surgery for these disorders.

What do you see as the future of your field?

I believe the future of our field is to take a collaborative approach to patient care to provide complete care for patients. For example, pituitary disorders requires the expertise of not only endocrinologists, neurosurgeons, radiologists, pathologists, ophthalmologists and radiation oncologists, but also rehabilitation medicine and functional therapists to maximize a patient’s function while offering medical treatments.

The area of pituitary research is a field that is on the verge of making fundamental advances in our understanding of the biology of tumors of this area. This new information will hopefully provide insight into the diseases and create a foundation on which to develop new, less-invasive and more focused treatments.

What would you like patients to know about you?

I seek to deliver world-class, collaborative and individualized care to each patient that I see. This philosophy is manifest in our Pituitary Clinic at University of Louisville, where patients can see an endocrinologist, a neurosurgeon, a rhinologist and/or a radiation oncologist all on the same day. It is also evident in our pituitary tumor conference, where cases are presented for discussion and mutual learning. Thus, each of our patients receives the combined recommendation of our group rather than a single physician’s opinion.

What is the extent of your involvement with the PNA?

My passion for pituitary disorders has been fostered by several of my mentors. I have had the good fortune of training with excellent pituitary surgeons, endocrinologists and ophthalmologists. They demonstrated to me the profound effect that medicine can have by caring for patients suffering from these disorders. In collaboration with my colleagues at University of Louisville, we hope to create a resource for the community to alleviate the suffering experienced by patients with pituitary disorders in Louisville and the surrounding region. Working with groups such as the Pituitary Network Association is critical to empower patients with knowledge necessary to make informed decisions regarding their care. I have recently joined the organization.

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