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Remembering Columbia Neurosurgery Alum Andrew Parsa, MD, PhD

Dr. Andrew Parsa

Dr. Andrew Parsa, MD, PhD, outstanding surgeon, scientist, leader, friend, and family man,​ passed away suddenly on Monday morning April 13​, 2015.  Dr. Parsa was a brilliant and tireless researcher and surgeon. Over the course of his career he helped cure ​thousands of people through his exceptional surgery skills, and his research has the potential to help thousands more.

Dr. Parsa​ ​​moved to​ the Chicago area when​ he became chair of Neurological Surgery at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine ​in 2013 at the young age of 46. ​

​Dr. Parsa completed his residency training here at Columbia University Medical Center’s Department of​ Neurosurgery in 2002. He went on to work in the​ Neurosurgery Department at the University of California San Francisco, where he later served as vice chairman and soon after was​ recruited by Northwestern as department chair​.

The years Dr. Parsa spent in our Columbia Neurosurgery training program that brought him from  “doctor” into “neurosurgeon” gave our team the opportunity to get to know him well.  He was a collaborative, dedicated, ​dynamic, and brilliant neurosurgeon committed to his patients, his colleagues, and the rigorous research that would change the lives of many.  He made a lasting impression on the faculty and staff here and we will all miss him dearly.

Over the years, he remained a close friend and colleague to many. “Words cannot express the sorrow and feelings of emptiness generated by Andy’s passing,” says Dr. Michael Kaiser.  “People often referred to Andy as the “triple threat”, a compassionate physician, brilliant scientist, and gifted surgeon.  There’s no denying these qualities made Andy a great neurosurgeon, but it was his indomitable spirit, loyalty to friends, and love for his wife and children that made my best friend a great man.”

Dr. Parsa was an active and very talented researcher.  In his research, he drew on the many subjects he had studied at Yale, SUNY Downstate, and Columbia—biochemistry, molecular biophysics, immunology, cell biology, and neurosurgery.

Columbia Neurosurgery​’s Dr. Jeffrey Bruce collaborated with Dr. Parsa on a number of research studies, including​ Phase II of an enormous Glioblastoma (brain tumor) ​project. The Phase II conclusions were released last summer and showed excellent results that are now being studied further​.

“Andy was a brilliant surgeon, researcher, teacher, leader and friend,” says Dr. Bruce.  “He was a tireless advocate for his patients and an innovative and creative brain tumor researcher.  His passion, creativity and talent made everyone around him better – patients, students, residents and fellow neurosurgeons.   We are thankful for having had the opportunity to include him in our Columbia family as he built his impressive neurosurgical career.  His unparalleled devotion and loyalty to his friends, family and colleagues will be sadly missed.”

In addition to his reputation as a researcher, Dr. Parsa was also known for taking a personal interest in his colleagues and patients. The combination of his personable manner, his indisputable skill, and his unstoppable energy helped make him an outstanding leader​.  ​

Columbia Neurosurgery Department Chairman Dr. Robert Solomon was well aware of these qualities. He encouraged Dr. Parsa to apply for the Chair position at Northwestern a​nd in 2013, he had the pleasure of officially congratulating Dr. Parsa on the new job.

To his colleagues at Columbia, he was an incredibly valued friend.  He will also be remembered fondly for his favorite line, “[I’m] Living the Dream.”

Dr. Parsa will be greatly missed.

​We send heartfelt condolences to Dr. Parsa’s family.


A celebration of Dr. Parsa’s life will be held by family and friends
– Saturday, April 18th
– 2:00 to 5:00pm
– The Standard Club, 320 South Plymouth Court, Chicago, IL 60604


Read more about Columbia’s work with Dr. Parsa in the posts below:

patient journey

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