Past Leadership


John H. Sampson, MD, PhD 
Inaugural Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, 2015-2020

  • Robert H. and Gloria Wilkins Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery
  • Current the president of Private Diagnostic Clinic, Duke's physician practice 
  • The National Institutes of Health's top-funded neurosurgeon
  • Member of the National Academy of Medicine
  • Member of the Association of American Physicians

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Allan H. Friedman, MD
Chief 1996-2014; Interim Chair 2020-Present

  • Trained at Duke under Guy Odom and Robert Wilkins
  • Neurovascular Fellowship trained with Charles Drake and Gazi Yasargil
  • President, Southern Neurological Society (1997-99)
  • Fellow, American College of Surgeons (2000)
  • Co-Director of Duke Brain Tumor Center
  • President, Society of Neurological Surgeons (2010-2011)

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Robert H. Wilkins, MD 
Chief 1976-96

  • President, Congress of Neurological Surgeons (1979-80)
  • President, Southern Neurological Society (1992-93)
  • Chairman, American Board of Neurological Surgery (1996-97)
  • Distinguished Service Award from CNS (1998)
  • Distinguished Service Award from AANS (2000)
  • Founder and editor of Neurosurgery (1977-1982)




Dr. Guy Odom
Division Chief 1960-76

  • Trained at Montreal Neurological Institute under Wilder Penfield
  • President, Society of Neurological Surgeons (1970-71)
  • President, American Association of Neurological Surgeons (1971-72)
  • Recipient of Harvey Cushing Medal
  • Established Duke Neuropathology in 1945




Dr. Barnes Woodhall
Division Chief 1937-60

  • Trained at Johns Hopkins under Walter Dandy
  • President, American Association of Neurological Surgeons (1963-64)
  • Established first brain tumor program in the nation (1937)
  • Awarded Legion of Merit Award during World War II
  • Chancellor of Duke Hospital (1960-64)
  • Pioneered the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center