MID-CITY — The former chair of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will lead the development of a Neuroscience Institute at Saint John’s Health Center, it was announced Monday.

Dr. Amin Kassam will also be a faculty member at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John’s.

The Neuroscience Institute at the Santa Monica hospital will offer a minimally invasive neurosurgery center, as well as neuro-oncology, neuro-vascular surgery and other neuroscience services.

The institute will build on the foundation established over the last two years by Dr. Daniel F. Kelly, medical director of Saint John’s Brain Tumor Center.

Kassam joined the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh in 1997. Over the next 12 years, he held several positions and pioneered a number of novel procedures and techniques, according to Saint John’s.

Kassam developed the multidisciplinary Minimally Invasive endoNeurosurgery Center, which deals with the complex skull base pathology, and was director of the Center for Cranial Nerve Disorders at UPMC.

Kassam also was a pioneer in the development of the Expanded Endonasal Approach, which uses the nostrils as natural portals to remove brain and skull based tumors rather than using a traditional craniotomy, in which the surgical opening is made through the top of the skull.

Saint John’s began developing its neuroscience program with the arrival of Kelly from UCLA and establishment of the Saint John’s Brain Tumor Center in 2007.

Kassam has performed more than 3,000 neurosurgical procedures, including more than 1,000 minimally invasive endoscopic endonasal procedures with his team.

He specializes in minimally invasive endoscopic brain tumor surgery, skull base and pituitary tumor surgery, vascular surgery, as well as trigeminal neuralgia and hemifacial spasm.

His recent focus has been on the development of a surgical tube, called a “brain cannula,” combined with detailed fiber tract mapping of the brain to allow maximal and safe endoscopic removal of deeply situated brain tumors.

The board-certified neurosurgeon received his medical and undergraduate education at the University of Toronto. He completed his residency and fellowship training at the University of Ottawa.

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