PNA Spotlight: Dr. Richard Murray

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Dr. Richard MurrayThis month the PNA Spotlight shines on Dr. Richard Murray, a neurosurgeon practicing at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, VA. He was born in Tucson, Arizona and grew up in Stellenbosch, South Africa. He graduated from medical school at the University of Stellenbosch in 2001 and then worked as a physician in the fields of acute care and critical care in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and various other international locations. He then completed his neurosurgery internship, residency, and chief residency at the University of Vermont in Burlington, VT. He later did sub-specialty fellowship training in skull base and microneurosurgery at Louisiana State University, as well as a mini-fellowship in the field of minimally invasive endoscopic brain and skull base surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. In 2015 he was joined the Virginia Neurosurgery group where he specializes in the comprehensive management of pituitary, skull base, and brain tumors. Dr. Murray was kind enough to answer some questions from the PNA:

1. What inspired you to choose your career path?

An early interest in the natural sciences and brain function naturally led to a career in medicine. I decided to pursue neurosurgery and sub-specialized skull base surgery due to the unique challenges and opportunities that this field poses. During formal training in skull base surgery, I repeatedly witnessed the surgical elegance and successful outcomes offered by the endoscopic endonasal approach. This led me to build a practice where I can pursue my passion for endoscopic surgery and provide the best possible outcomes for my patients.

2. What is the primary focus of your work?

My primary focus is on the surgical and post-operative clinical management of patients with pituitary, skull base, and brain tumors. These surgeries are done in the least-invasive fashion, leveraging technology to achieve extremely safe resections while minimizing complications. I frequently collaborate with other specialists to optimize the surgical options and care that I can provide for patients.

3. What do you consider to be the future of your field?

Advances in instrumentation and navigation technologies, coupled with novel techniques and reconstruction options will continue to advance the surgical management of pituitary tumors. These will lead to faster, more efficient surgeries with lower complication rates and shorter recovery periods.

However, the real game-changers will be in the development of medical therapies for these tumors. Though surgery will never become obsolete, the management of pituitary tumors will likely become much more individualized. Molecular markers will help us to predict which tumors behave more aggressively. Targeted medical therapies will allow residuals within the cavernous sinus to be managed effectively.

4. What should patients know about your field/what deserves more recognition/awareness?

The personal impact that the diagnosis of a so-called benign pituitary adenoma can have is profound. These tumors are very common and are increasingly being diagnosed due to the increased utilization of cranial imaging. Many require nothing more than serial monitoring, but for others, more active management is needed. Gaining a deeper understanding of pituitary tumors, their natural history and management options will help patients to choose the best possible options for their individual case. In this setting, the PNA is a highly valuable resource.

5. What would you like to convey about yourself to your patients?

The management of pituitary tumors is a complicated process, with surgery being only one facet of this. Very often comprehensive care involves a neurosurgeon (who specializes in skull base and pituitary tumors), an ENT surgeon, an ophthalmologist, a radiation oncologist and an endocrinologist. Choosing a surgeon who is passionate about endoscopic skull base surgery and is part of a collaborative team specializing in pituitary tumors ensures the best possible outcome.

6. Why did you get involved with the PNA and what is the extent of your involvement?

The PNA serves as a precious resource that brings together patients, research, and physicians with a particular interest in pituitary tumors. This unique setting allows me to be part of a multi-disciplinary team of physicians where I can advise on the management of these complex problems. In this collaborative forum, I can contribute to and learn from others and also gain exposure to unique new perspectives to gain a deeper understanding of the concerns and issues that my patients have.

Dr. Murray’s website: