David O. Okonkwo, MD, PhD

Dr. David Okonkwo is an Associate Professor with the Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and an Associate Professor with Sports Medicine and Nutrition, University of Pittsburgh. He is also the Director of Neurotrauma and of the Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Program. In addition, he is the Clinical Director of the Brain Trauma Research Center. Most recently, Dr. Okonkwo was named the Team Neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Dr. Okonkwo earned both his MD and his PhD in medicine and anatomy, respectively, from Virginia Commonwealth University. He performed his medical internship and his residency at the University of Virginia. In 2004 he won a fellowship to Auckland Public Hospital in New Zealand. When he returned to the University of Virginia he became Chief Resident. Prior to coming to the University of Pittsburgh he was the Director of the Virginia Neurotrauma Laboratory, University of Virginia Health System, from 2000 to 2006.

Dr. Okonkwo holds a leadership position in the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)/Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) Section on Neurotrauma and Critical Care Executive Committee as well as the AANS/CNS Coding and Reimbursement Committee. Dr. Okonkwo is a member of the International Neurotrauma Society Executive Board. He is a member of the American Spinal Injury Association and an associate member of the American College of Surgeons.

He has received many honors, including the Novo Nordisk Neurotrauma Research Award from the CNS, the Crutchfield, Gage, Thomson Award from the Neurosurgical Society of the Virginias, and the Brain Injury Association of America Young Investigator Award, amongst others. From 2010-2013, he was named one of America’s Best Doctors and in 2012-2013, a Pittsburgh Best Doctor by Pittsburgh Magazine.

He is a former editor of the Neurotrauma Section of NeuroWiki and an ad hoc reviewer for the Journal of Neurotrauma, the Journal of Neurosurgery, Neurosurgery, Developmental Neuroscience, Neuroscience Letters, and Experimental Neurology. Dr. Okonkwo is on the Editorial Board of Therapeutic Hypothermia.

Dr. Okonkwo’s clinical interests are traumatic injuries to the brain and spine as well as scoliosis and spinal deformity. His research endeavors involve developing novel therapeutic interventions for brain and spinal cord injury. Dr. Okonkwo is the principal investigator of a nationally funded clinical core to study the pathophysiology of traumatic brain injury. He is also principal investigator of several ongoing clinical studies in neurotrauma in Pittsburgh.

View a list of Dr. Okonkwo’s publications here.


Dr. David O. Okonkwo
Phone: (412) 864-1839
Email: okonkwodo@upmc.edu