Dacey elected to Institute of Medicine

Ralph G. Dacey Jr., MD, has been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors in health and medicine that medical scientists in the United States can receive.

Dacey is the Henry G. & Edith R. Schwartz Professor and chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and neurosurgeon-in-chief at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

He was recognized by the Institute of Medicine for demonstrating outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.


In addition to an active neurosurgery practice and serving as the neurosurgery consultant for the St. Louis Rams and St. Louis Blues, 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 December 1998.

Dacey’s surgical interests are in cerebrovascular neurosurgery, the surgery of cerebral aneurysms and vascular malformations. His research activities have concentrated on intracerebral microcirculation, which led him to co-develop a way to study individual, hair-like microvessels located deep within the brain.

A Boston native, Dacey earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a medical degree from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in 1974. He completed a residency in medicine at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y., and residencies in surgery and neurosurgery at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Dacey came to Washington University as professor and chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery in 1989. Previously, he was professor and chief of the division of neurosurgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was the youngest neurosurgery program director in the United States. His first faculty appointment was as an assistant professor of neurological surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Dacey holds numerous leadership positions in the neurosurgery community. He is past president of the American Academy of Neurological Surgery and a director-at-large of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. He is a member of the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Advisory Council and is chairman of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Residency Review Committee for Neurological Surgery. In 2005, he served as chair of the American Board of Neurological Surgery, the most prestigious appointment in neurosurgery. He also has served as president of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

In 2003, he received the prestigious Grass Foundation Award from the Society of Neurological Surgeons, which recognizes individuals for outstanding and continuing commitment to research in neurosurgery. He has been named among the Best Doctors in America, America’s Top Doctors and St. Louis’ Best Doctors.

Dacey was one of 65 new members and five foreign associates elected to the Institute of Medicine. As a member, he makes a commitment to devote a significant amount of volunteer time on committees engaged in a broad range of health-policy issues.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.