David O. Okonkwo, MD, PhD

Dr. David Okonkwo is Professor of Neurological Surgery and Director of the Neurotrauma Clinical Trials Center. He serves as Director of Neurotrauma and of the Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Program at UPMC. In addition, he is the Clinical Director of the Brain Trauma Research Center. Dr. Okonkwo is also a member of the Medical Staff for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Dr. Okonkwo earned both his MD and his PhD in medicine and anatomy, from Virginia Commonwealth University. He completed his internship and residency in Neurological Surgery at the University of Virginia, with a fellowship at Auckland Public Hospital in New Zealand. Prior to coming to the University of Pittsburgh, he was the Director of the Virginia Neurotrauma Laboratory, University of Virginia, from 2000 to 2006.

Dr. Okonkwo holds an officer in the American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons Section on Neurotrauma and Critical Care. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Neurological Surgery.

He has received many honors, including the Novo Nordisk Neurotrauma Research Award from the CNS, the Crutchfield, Gage, Thomson Award from the Neurosurgical Society of the Virginias, and the Brain Injury Association of America Young Investigator Award, amongst others.  Since 2010, he has annually been named one of America’s Best Doctors as well as a Pittsburgh Best Doctor by Pittsburgh Magazine.

Dr. Okonkwo’s clinical interests are traumatic injuries to the brain and spine as well as scoliosis and spinal deformity surgery. His research endeavors are focused on identifying genetic influences on and biomarkers of traumatic brain injury, as well as pursuing advanced neuroimaging modalities and targeted therapeutic approaches to traumatic brain and spinal cord injury. Dr. Okonkwo is a principal investigator of the national TRACK-TBI (Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury) study as well as principal investigator of several ongoing clinical studies in neurotrauma in Pittsburgh.

View a list of Dr. Okonkwo’s publications here.