Bob Carter, MD, PhD

The MGH Department of Neurosurgery has welcomed its new chief. Bob Carter, MD, PhD, began his new role at the MGH Feb. 1 after spending the past seven years as chair and chief of the Neurosurgery Service at the University of California, San Diego.

“I’m very excited,” says Carter. “There’s a combination of both an excitement about what lies ahead in terms of where we want the department to go, but there’s also a familiarity as I walk these halls that’s not only comforting, but also reminiscent of all the great things that MGH stands for.”

Carter spent the last several years of his career on the West Coast where he led the formation of the hospital’s first Department of Neurosurgery and co-founded the UC San Diego NeuroInstitute. Earlier in his career – after earning his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and his doctorate in genetic epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 1992 – Carter was a surgical intern at the MGH. Following his internship, he became a resident in Neurosurgery. Additionally, Carter was a post-doctoral fellow in gene therapy at the Whitehead Institute at MIT and Boston Children’s Hospital.

During his early faculty years at the MGH, he participated in the hospital’s yearlong Administrative Leadership Program and was the director of Education for the Department of Neurosurgery from 2005 to 2010, while simultaneously serving as an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.

Since his return one month ago, Carter has established several goals for the department, one of which highlights the importance of team building.

“One of the things we’ve emphasized early on is developing the opportunity for teams of clinicians to thrive together,” Carter says. “For example, in neurovascular care we have specialists in Neurology, Radiology and Neurosurgery who work together to try to achieve the best outcome for a patient. This might involve advanced imaging, certain neurosurgical techniques and great neuro-critical care. How do we build on that? How do we bring ourselves together? An early emphasis with the chiefs of Neurology and Radiology has been on creating organizing structures for neurovascular care that help us deliver the best care.” Following this theme, Carter notes, “we also see opportunities for further development in our spinal neurosurgery program in collaboration with Orthopædics.”

Another goal Carter has for the department involves reorganizing the clinical structure to create an acute care neurosurgery initiative and develop an academic neuro-trauma program. “We want to have the best Department of Neurosurgery in the country, bringing together our wonderful nursing, allied providers and physician teams so patients feel like they are in a ‘neuro hospital within a hospital.’ Through collaboration, I know we can bring together the many strong and diverse parts of the MGH and break down barriers.”

Carter says he is happy to be back at the MGH.

“It has been interesting since I came back,” Carter says. “You walk down the hall and see faces you haven’t seen in seven years and there have been many great reunions. It’s been a wonderful welcome back on all fronts.”

Carter succeeds Robert Martuza, MD, who will remain an active member of the department, focusing on research and serving as a mentor.