Peter Konrad, MD PhD

Peter Konrad, MD PhD

  1. Describe your most inspiring neurosurgical teacher. 

I had many that I owe much. My functional teachers who influenced me the most were: Dr. Bennett Blumenkopf (protégé of Dr. Blaine Nashold from Duke) who was the functional neurosurgeon that trained me as a resident at Vanderbilt. Dr. Blumenkopf taught me much about being a good functional anatomist, understanding pain, how to do lesioning, stereotactic localization of symptoms in the OR, using the S&W atlas, how to do a DREZ, how to perform awake neurosurgical procedures.

The other teacher who influenced me a lot was Dr. Alim-Louis Benabid. I met him at the end of my residency and spent a brief period in Grenoble to learn the principles of DBS he was pioneering in France. While a resident at Vanderbilt, I participated in some of the early testing of DBS before it became FDA-approved in 1997. Dr. Benabid helped me understand the principles of building a solid scientific career as a new attending at Vanderbilt beginning in 1998. He also fostered a 20+ year research project with Dr. Charles and me to study neuroprotection of DBS in STN for Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Blumenkopf retired from neurosurgery about 10 years ago and is now working for the FDA as a Medical Officer reviewing neurosurgical-related devices since 2015. Dr. Benabid left the University of Grenoble, France, and remains active in robotics research at the University of Milan, Italy.


  1. How is developing junior faculty different than developing residents?  How is it similar? 

Faculty are at a different stage of their career than residents. My job as the JW Ruby Chair in Neurosurgery and Neuroscience is to mentor and provide resources for students of neurosurgery at all levels. Faculty require 3 uniquely different opportunities than residents.

  1. Faculty require resources to build or maintain their practice; particularly more challenging in specialties that require multidisciplinary teams.
  2. Faculty require an academic purpose; meaning a reason to come to work at an academic medical system versus pure clinical practice. Without academic purpose, faculty lose their motivation to teach, inquire about new healthcare solutions, or feel part of a bigger team.
  3. Faculty need to be leaders in neurosurgery, not followers. Leading in neurosurgery means taking on challenges we face every day in healthcare and actively working on solutions, whether it is by forming new clinical services, teaching residents, doing research, or leading national groups in societies or organized neurosurgery.

I want our faculty to be proud they are part of this department and demonstrate their skills as outstanding neurosurgeons, teachers, and leaders at all levels of their careers.


  1. What is your mentorship style? 

I have always tried to lead by example. I believe that the best leaders always own the tasks they assign through at least understanding the process of whatever we ask others to do. It’s a challenge for me to both lead by example and learn how to delegate. I depend on my peers and staff to help me balance that style of mentorship.  

  1. What qualities do you most value in a new resident or faculty member? 

I value honesty and balanced work-life ethic. I believe that no one is perfect at everything they do and we all are learning new things throughout our careers. Being honest with ourselves and others means that each of us recognizes where our limitations are and how we treat each other. That’s the first way we grow internally and expand our skills and knowledge with others in our team.

Having a good work-life balance builds internal satisfaction and peace about one’s purpose and mission in life. Many of us find great satisfaction in a job well done, but we also have to allow personal time now more than ever to rejuvenate from escalating stress all around us. Having a good work-life ethic means when you are here, you are active and contributing to the team and when you are home, you connect with your family, friends, and body to recharge your soul.

Both Drs. Clay Marsh (our Dean) and Mike Grace (our hospital president) have also stressed these core values in being neurosurgeons in our department.