While long days are no anomaly in medicine, Elad Levy stands out as tireless, even among physicians.
Excelling as both a clinician and researcher, he lists more than 170 scholarly articles and books in his dense CV and has pioneered a method for performing minimally invasive spinal surgery.
Levy’s mentor, L. Nelson Hopkins, SUNY Distinguished Professor of neurosurgery and former chair of the department, lauds his former student’s prolific and early success.
“I think he’s one of the most exciting young neurosurgeons that I’ve ever come across. He has, at an incredibly young age, achieved an enormous amount.”
In fact, it took Levy only a decade to rise from a UB endovascular neurosurgery fellow to department chair.
While many medical students struggle to choose a specialty, Levy knew by the end of his first year at medical school that his interest lay in neurosurgery.
“I thought it was very challenging, and I always like challenges,” Levy says. “I thought it was very diverse. From a technical standpoint, you get to do microscopic surgery, a very fine manual skill, but you also get to do macrosurgery — when you’re operating on the spine, for instance. And the fact that we know so little about the brain — I thought it was a field where there was an opportunity to make an impact.”
Today, Levy’s interests within neurosurgery vary. He works with aerospace engineers to better understand blood flow patterns, which share characteristics with airflows and can, when abnormal, lead to strokes.
He also serves as principal investigator on national and international stroke trials. He and his colleagues earned FDA approval for the first prospective trial to test the usage of stents in the human brain to prevent acute ischemic strokes.
In 2011, he founded PUCCS (Program for Understanding Childhood Concussion and Stroke), a local organization dedicated to supporting education and research in the area of youth concussions and stroke.
A specialist in minimally invasive neurosurgery, Levy performed the first U.S. surgery using axial lumbar interbody fusion, a method of stabilizing the lumbar spine in patients experiencing back or leg pain.
“If I have any strengths, one of my strengths is foresight, and I knew that the field of neurosurgery would become increasingly minimally invasive,” Levy says.
“We’re not going to be peeling down a person’s scalp and opening a hole in their skull when we can do (surgery) through a puncture.”
Levy’s wide-ranging knowledge and expertise, along with his vigor, have earned him the admiration of younger doctors with whom he works.
Kenneth Snyder, assistant professor of neurosurgery and a former chief resident in the department, describes Levy as a “superb teacher.”
“He often accomplishes more in a day than most people do in a week,” Snyder says.