Mike grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, and after attending medical school at Columbia University in New York, where he graduated at the top of his class, he completed his neurosurgery training at the University of California at San Francisco, one of the world’s elite brain tumour centers.
In 2011, he came to Sydney to train with Dr Charlie Teo. He then returned to the University of Oklahoma where he was the director of the brain tumour centre for six years, building the institute into one of the busiest units in the US. Prior to his arrival, only 450 brain tumour surgeries had been performed in the previous 50 years at the university. Over the 6 years he was there, he performed over 3,000 brain tumour operations, making him one of the busiest brain tumour surgeons in America over that time frame.
In short, he is a force of nature. In addition to building this program, and performing large numbers of high-complexity surgeries, he relentlessly works on improving the way we take care of people with brain tumours and other neurologic diseases. His belief is that, despite the amazing advances in computer science over the past few decades, doctors still make decisions based on old methods, and that we can only progress by harnessing technology to provide better information to doctors. He works tirelessly to help make these technologies a reality in clinical practice.
To date, he has published over 200 peer reviewed scientific publications in medical journals. Recently, this included an entire issue of the major journal in neurosurgery dedicated to a landmark effort where his group documented every major connection in the human brain in unprecedented detail. The 21st century is the century of the brain and he is leading the charge into the future.
Despite these successes, he never forgot about Australia, the warmth and courage of the Australian people, and the great optimism of the nation. Ultimately, the idea of helping build the Australian Centre into one of the world’s elite brain tumour and research institutes became too hard to resist. Coming back to Australia is, in a way, returning home for him.