Barrow Neurological Institute has announced Michael Lawton, MD, as its new president and CEO following an extensive national search that considered many of the foremost names in neurosurgery. Under Dr. Lawton’s leadership, Barrow will continue to revolutionize the treatment of the most complex brain and spine disorders and expand to become the world’s top ranked neuroscience center.
Dr. Lawton, who succeeds retiring Robert Spetzler, MD as the head of Barrow Neurological Institute, comes to Phoenix from the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) where he served as the vice chairman and chief of vascular neurosurgery in the Department of Neurological Surgery. Dr. Lawton built one of the busiest cerebrovascular services in the nation and amassed a clinical experience in vascular neurosurgery unheard of for someone his age. He has treated more than 4,000 aneurysms, 800 brain arteriovenous malformations, and 1,000 cavernous malformations. His first day at Barrow was July 3.
“I come to Barrow with pride and humility knowing that I follow in the extraordinary footsteps of Dr. Spetzler,” says Dr. Lawton. “The Lawton years will be a continuation of the Spetzler years. We will push the boundaries of neuroscience even further and strive to solve the unsolvable with new techniques, new technologies, and in ways we never thought possible.”
Considered one of the best neurosurgeons in the world, Dr. Lawton is no stranger to Barrow or Phoenix. He completed his 7-year neurosurgical residency and fellowship at Barrow under Dr. Spetzler.
“I’m thrilled to return to the place where my career in neurosurgery began,” says Dr. Lawton. “I’m a product of Barrow, I discovered my life’s work here, and I return with a passion and a promise to establish Barrow as the first place people think of anywhere in the world when they need help in the neurosciences.”
One of the first areas of growth under Dr. Lawton’s leadership is establishing a cerebrovascular research center, the Barrow Aneurysm and AVM Research Center. Dr. Lawton has brought with him a $6-million National Institutes of Health research grant to help unravel the formation and genetics behind complex cerebrovascular diseases. He has also established a center for artificial intelligence to harness the power of big data in revolutionizing care in the neurosciences.
Highly regarded by his peers around the globe for his surgical skills, patient care, innovation, and research efforts, Dr. Lawton has performed more than 7,000 cases, published more than 400 peer reviewed articles, authored 5 textbooks, and given more than 600 lectures nationally and internationally.
“Dr. Lawton is an exceptionally qualified and gifted neurosurgeon and I am absolutely delighted that he was carefully selected from among the nation’s top brain surgeons to lead Barrow,” says Dr. Spetzler. “Under Dr. Lawton’s leadership, patients from around the world with the most complex cases can continue to find help at Barrow and the institute will continue to advance neuroscience through its medical treatment, research and teaching capabilities.”
Barrow Neurological Institute, located at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, performs more neurosurgeries annually than any hospital in the United States and is routinely listed by U.S. News & World Report as among the best hospitals in the nation for neurological and neurosurgical care. Many patients from around the world who have previously been told their conditions are untreatable come to Phoenix to undergo successful brain surgery at Barrow.