Murat Günel, M.D., an accomplished neurosurgeon and geneticist, has been named chair of the School of Medicine’s Department of Neurosurgery and chief of neurosurgery at Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH).

Günel’s clinical expertise is in treating complex brain aneurysms and vascular malformations, and brain tumors. His landmark genomic research has revealed the genetic risks for brain aneurysms, the mutational landscape of brain tumors, and a multitude of genes fundamental in cortical development. He succeeds Dennis D. Spencer, M.D., the Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor of Neurosurgery, who led the department for 27 years and is a longtime mentor to Günel.

“Murat is an exceptionally creative scientist,” said Dean and Ensign Professor of Medicine Robert J. Alpern, M.D. “I am confident he’ll be a terrific department chair. I am also grateful to Dennis Spencer for his many years of outstanding leadership and service.”

The Nixdorff-German Professor of Neurosurgery, Günel led the largest international genome-wide association studies of intracranial aneurysms, identifying several susceptibility loci, as published in two papers in Nature Genetics. Through international collaborations, his lab identified several genes mutated in malformations of cerebral cortical development. The work resulted in publications in Nature and Nature Genetics, and recently in Cell and Neuron, in which a team led by Günel identified mutations in the CLP1 and KATNB1 genes in patients with complex, structural brain abnormalities.

In 2013 Günel was the senior author of a pivotal manuscript published in Science, which unveiled that somatic mutations in just five genes, including two that have never been implicated in abnormal tissue growth, or neoplasia, can explain the mutational landscape of a majority of meningiomas, the most common type of brain tumor. This and other genomic studies have formed the basis of personalized treatments for brain tumor patients now ongoing at the School of Medicine and YNHH.

Also professor of genetics and neurobiology, Günel earned his medical degree from Istanbul University and completed his internship and residency in neurosurgery at YNHH.