Nader Sanai, MD

Advisor, Scholarly Project, Academic Affairs, College of Medicine Phoenix
Director, Neurosurgical Oncology
Director, Barrow Brain Tumor Research Center, Barrow Neurological Institute
Adjunct Professor of Life Sciences, Arizona State University
Email Address: 
Phone Number: 
(602) 406-3135
Professional Bio: 

Dr. Nader Sanai is a Barrow neurosurgical oncologist internationally-recognized for his clinical expertise and research efforts dedicated to the treatment of brain tumors.

Dr. Sanai attended the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), where he graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in French Literature and a Bachelor of Science in Physiology and Neuroscience. He obtained his Doctorate in Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), where he also completed his residency in Neurological Surgery. In 2009, Dr. Sanai joined the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) to complete a clinical fellowship in skull-base surgery with Dr. Robert F. Spetzler. He then was recruited by Dr. Spetzler to join the BNI as Director of Neurosurgical Oncology.

To date, Dr. Sanai has published over 75 peer-reviewed research articles and has received a host of career accolades, including the Academy Award from the American Academy of Neurological Surgery. Other prestigious honors include two NIH R01 grants, as well as grants from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Arizona Biomedical Research Commission, the Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation, the American Brain Tumor Association, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

Clinical Information

Clinical Focus: 

Dr. Sanai’s clinical practice is devoted entirely to patients with tumors of the brain and spine, including those in high-risk areas. He is the only neurosurgeon in Arizona who specializes in intraoperative mapping techniques to preserve motor and language function during tumor removal. Gliomas, meningiomas, metastatic tumors, and complex tumors of the skull-base are just some of the tumor types he routinely treats using both operative and radiosurgery techniques.

Disease or Clinical Specialty: 
Brain Tumor
Glioblastoma Multiforme

Research Information

Research Program: 
Cancer Biology
Research Focus: 

As the Director of the Barrow Brain Tumor Research Center (BBTRC), Dr. Sanai oversees all of the Barrow’s clinically-directed brain tumor research, enabling the program to pioneer new clinical trials for patients with brain tumors. Within the BBTRC, Dr. Sanai also serves as the Principal Investigator of the Laboratory for Stem Cell Neuro-Oncology, which is funded by over a dozen external granting agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Selected Publications: 

Professional Information

Positions and Honors: 
  • Preuss Award, Congress of Neurological Surgeons (2010)
  • National Brain Tumor Foundation Mahaley Award, American Association of Neurological Surgeons (2010)
  • Honorable Mention, 2009 Academy Award, American Academy of Neurological Surgery (2009)
  • Howard Naffziger Resident of the Year Award, UCSF Department of Neurological Surgery (2009)
  • Guest Editor, Neurosurgery Clinics of North America, Neural Stem Cells Issue (2007)
  • Kaiser Award for Clinical Research, San Francisco Neurological Society (2007)
  • Invited Lecturer, Frye-Halloran Symposium on Neuro-Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Neurological Surgery (2005)
  • Edwin F. Boldrey Award for Basic Science Research, San Francisco Neurological Society (2004)
  • Dean’s Research Prize Finalist, UC San Francisco (1999)
  • Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society (1997-present)
Other Experience and Professional Memberships/Affiliations: 
  • American Association of Cancer Research (2005-present)
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology (2005-present)
  • San Francisco Neurological Society (2004-present)
  • American Association of Neurological Surgeon (2003-present)
  • Congress of Neurological Surgeon (2003-present)
  • Society for Neuroscience (2001-present)
  • American Brain Tumor Association (2000-present)
  • National Brain Tumor Foundation (1999-present)

Academic Information

Skull-Base Surgery, Barrow Neurological Institute
Neurological Surgery, University of California at San Francisco
Medical School: 
M.D., University of California at San Francisco
Undergraduate School: 
B.S., University of California at San Diego