BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) –The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine is looking to take its surgery department to a new level.

The college’s Board of Visitors approved the establishment of a Department of Neurosurgery at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, but the college is waiting for approval from the State Council for Higher Education for Virginia. The college says this department will help advance the field of neurosurgery with research while addressing the growing demand for specialized care in Roanoke and the New River Valley.

“The creation of a new Department of Neurosurgery will be a significant milestone in the growth of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Over the past decade and within the Department of Surgery, Carilion Clinic expanded its neurosurgery program to include experts in adult, pediatric, endovascular, and complex spinal neurosurgery,” said Lee Learman, dean of the medical school.

Currently, the School of Medicine offers one position per year for seven residents. During the 2021-22 year the program received 245 applications for the neurosurgery residency program, but with the addition of the new department, the college will expand clinical rotations and elective opportunities for students in the School of Medicine and enhance post-medical school residency training by providing more residency positions.

“The addition of a dedicated Department of Neurosurgery will strengthen our ability to provide comprehensive care to patients in need,” said Michael Nussbaum, chair of the Department of Surgery. “By integrating neurosurgery education into our medical curriculum to a greater degree, we are investing in the future of health care in this region and advancing the level of specialized care available.”

In 2018, the School of Medicine became fully integrated as the ninth college at Virginia Teach. Since then, it has grown to have 11 departments including the Department of Surgery. Leaders from the school say seeing the demand for the existing neurosurgery specialty and residency program along with the need in the region, encouraged the development of the new department.

Virginia Tech says in establishing this department, the region will experience an increase in specialized expertise. The college says the goal is to equip future physicians with the skills and knowledge necessary to address complex neurological conditions and deliver high-quality care.

“Demand for neurosurgical services continues to increase, and adding a new academic department will continue the great momentum happening with health sciences in our region,” said Nancy Howell Agee, Carilion Clinic’s chief executive officer. “Specifically, it will mean enhanced care for our patients and new opportunities for clinical trials, research, ground-breaking innovations, and academic growth, all of which contribute to our region’s growing reputation as a healthcare hub.”