Michael McDowell, MD

PGY-4 Resident

Michael McDowell




Michael McDowell, MD, joined the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery residency program in July of 2014 after graduating from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons medical school. He received undergraduate degrees in biochemistry and Latin dance from Arizona State University in 2005, graduating as valedictorian.

During medical school, Dr. McDowell was elected into Alpha Omega Alpha and received funding to pursue a Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship investigating the mechanisms by which genetic and environmental factors alter aneurysm morphology. He subsequently received funding from the Brain Aneurysm Foundation to continue his work during residency. Dr. McDowell was heavily involved in teaching and community outreach during medical school and was voted clinician of the year for his contributions to the Columbia Student Medical Outreach clinic in Washington Heights.

His current research interests include the alteration of vascular malformations from childhood to adulthood, Chiari Malformation, clinical applications of near infrared spectroscopy, and the objectification of clinical outcomes using mobile software platforms. His interests outside of neurosurgery include medical education, dance, and theater. Dr. McDowell is the son of Douglas and Marti McDowell of Iron Mountain, Mich.

Dr. McDowell's publications may be reviewed through the National Library of Medicine’s publication database. 

Specialized Areas of Interest

Health care improvement, Chiari malformation, pediatric neurosurgery, cerebrovascular disease, health software development.

Professional Organization Memberships

Alpha Omega Alpha
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Congress of Neurological Surgeons

Honors & Awards

  • Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellow, 2012
  • Brain Aneurysm Foundation Christopher Getch Chair of Research, 2013
  • Cook Medical Neurocritical Care Research Grant, 2014
  • Copeland Grant Winner, 2015
  • AANS/CNS Spine Summit Charlie Kuntz Scholar, 2016
  • Gold medal, lumbar pedicle screw placement, American Association of Neurological Surgeons Top Gun surgical completion, 2017

Research Activities

Dr. McDowell is currently working to develop near infrared spectroscopy based systems that allow for the non-invasive detection of elevated intracranial pressure and cerebral perfusion.