Dacey receives prestigious Grass neurosurgery award

Ralph G. Dacey Jr., M.D., the Henry G. and Edith R. Schwartz Professor and chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery, has been named this year’s recipient of the prestigious Grass Foundation Award from the Society of Neurological Surgeons. The award recognizes individuals for outstanding and continuing commitment to research in neurosurgery.

“This is one of the greatest honors that can be given to a neurosurgeon,” said Edward Oldfield, M.D., chief of the surgical neurology branch of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and chairman of the Grass Foundation Award Committee. “The award is designed to honor and recognize the accomplishments of a neurosurgeon whose research has been productive and who has been a good example to young people pursuing academic neurosurgery careers.

“We all felt Ralph was a great example of someone the award was intended to recognize.”

The international award was instituted by Sidney Goldring, M.D., who preceded Dacey as chair of neurological surgery.

“This highly respected award was initiated by one of the School of Medicine’s most distinguished faculty. Fittingly, it now is being bestowed on another of our most respected physician-scientists,” said William A. Peck, M.D., former executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the medical school.

“Ralph is one of the nation’s leaders in academic and clinical neurosurgery and has been an important figure in our own medical community.”

Dacey is internationally recognized for his contributions to understanding and treating conditions that affect blood vessels in and around the brain, including aneurysms and blood vessel malformations.

Among his extensive clinical accomplishments, he helped develop a device that uses magnets to guide surgical instruments through the brain and performed the first human magnetic surgery in 1999. Magnetic surgery allows surgeons to work through small holes in the skull on regions deep within the brain while avoiding damage to other critical brain structures.

Through basic science research with Hans H. Dietrich, Ph.D., research assistant professor of neurological surgery, Dacey developed a way to study individual cerebral blood vessels in the laboratory. The technique allows researchers to study the miniscule, hair-like microvessels located deep within the brain.