Department of Neurosurgery Alan Cohen, MD, FACS, FAAP

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Contact the Department of Neurosurgery

  • 1-617-355-6008
  • International: +1-617-355-5209

Alan Cohen Boston Children's Hospital

Dr. Cohen is Neurosurgeon-in-chief and Chairman of the Neurosurgery department at Boston Children's Hospital and Franc D. Ingraham Professor of Neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School since 2011. He is a world-renowned leader in pediatric neurosurgery and comes to Boston Children's from University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland, where he was chief of Pediatric Neurological Surgery and surgeon-in-chief.  

Dr. Cohen is beloved by his many patients for his genuine bedside manner, famed sense of humor and devotion to meeting the emotional needs of children and families, as well as delivering superb medical and surgical care.

Recent Achievements

During his 17 years at UH Rainbow Babies and Boston Children's Hospital, Dr. Cohen built both an acclaimed pediatric neurosurgical program and a reputation for excellence in all corners.

  • He served as chief of Pediatric Neurological Surgery, surgeon-in-chief and holder of the Reinberger Chair in Pediatric Neurological Surgery.
  • Under his tutelage, Rainbow Babies and Boston Children's Hospital has built and broadened the following neurosurgical initiatives:
    • Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery Center, employing blood conservation techniques, sparing sensitive tissue and significantly decreasing recovery periods for children with brain and spinal cord tumors and related conditions
    • Jennifer Ferchill Brain Tumor Center, bringing together expertise in diagnostics, neurosurgery, neuro-oncology, neurology and neuropsychology
    • Level IV Pediatric Epilepsy Center, providing comprehensive services, including medical and surgical solutions for the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric seizure disorders and associated syndromes
    • Spasticity Program, offering integrated medical, therapeutic and surgical treatments for patients based on a personalized care plan
    • Level I Pediatric Trauma Center, the only center of its kind in Northeast Ohio to specialize in the treatment of injured children suffering from head trauma

Innovative surgery - Commitment to minimally invasive neurosurgery

Dr. Cohen is an acclaimed expert in, and noted advocate for, minimally invasive neurosurgery:

  • He invented a new device called Smart Start® that enables minimally invasive brain dissection, earning a Research Innovation Award from the Institute for Pediatric Innovation.
  • He has published a wide range of articles, chapters and books about this critical discipline, and served as the first U.S. editor of the international journal Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery.
  • He has directed the American Association of Neurological Surgeons' national course on minimally invasive neurosurgery for the past 18 years.

In an effort to develop sophisticated new surgical instruments and safer surgical approaches, Dr. Cohen established a new Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery Laboratory at Boston Children's. He has also established a research fellowship focusing on minimally invasive neurosurgery.

Leadership roles and honors

Dr. Cohen's many leadership positions and accolades include:

  • leading the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons as president
  • chairing the American Association of Neurological Surgeons' Section on Pediatric Neurological Surgery
  • serving as director of the American Board of Neurological Surgery and American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery
  • receiving the Children's Miracle Network National Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to Patient Care

Research digest

Dr. Cohen's recent publications include the following:

Rapoport B, Baird L, Cohen AR:  Hydraulic-assisted endoscopic resection of third ventricular neurocysticercosis.   Child’s Nervous System, published online ahead of print 2013, DOI 10.1007/s00381-2273-7, 2013. 30:  541-6, 2014.

Vogel T, Manjila S, Bahuleyan B, Cohen AR:  The role of endsocopic third ventriculostomy in the treatment of hydrocephalus.  Journal of Neurosurgery:  Pediatrics, 12:  54-61, 2013 (Cover Article).

Manjila S, Miller E, Awadallah A, Murakami S, Cohen ML, Cohen AR:  Ossified choroid plexus       papilloma of the fourth   ventricle:  case report and elucidation of the molecular mechanism of tumor          osteogenesis.  Journal of Neurosurgery:  Pediatrics, DOI 10.3171/2013.3PEDS12400, May 3, 2013.

Lohani S, Cohen AR:  Franc D. Ingraham and the origin of pediatric neurosurgery.  Journal of Neurosurgery:  Pediatrics 11:  727-733, 2013.  (Cover Article).

Cohen AR, Vogel TW, Lidov HGW:  The lost art of localization:  Franc Ingraham’s legacy in pediatric neurosurgery.  Journal of Neurosurgery:  Pediatrics, 10.3171/2013.8 PEDS1377, 1-13, September 201


Cohen AR, Lohani S, Manjila S, Natsupakpong S, Brown N, Cavusoglu C:  Virtual reality simulation:  basic concepts and use in endoscopic neurosurgery training.  Child’s Nervous System, 29: 1235-1244, 2013.


Manjila S, Vogel T, Chen Y, Rodgers M, Cohen AR:  Hypothalamic hamartoma simulating a suprasellar arachnoid cyst:  resolution of precocious puberty following microsurgical resection.  Journal of Neurosurgery:  Pediatrics, Published online ahead of print:  May 16, 2014; DOI:  10.3171/2014.4PEDS13371.  (Cover Article).


Jane JA, Krieger MD, Cohen AR (Guest Editors):  Introduction:  Management of Plagiocephaly.  Neurosurgical Focus (online Journal of Neurosurgery), October 2013, 35 (4), p. 1, 2013.


Cohen AR, Couto MA, Cummings JJ, Johnson A, Joseph G, Kaufman BA, Litman RS, Menard MK, Moldenhauer JS, Pringle KC, Schwartz MZ, Walker WO, Warf BC, Wax JR for the MMC Maternal-Fetal Management Task Force.  Position Statement on Fetal Myelomeningocele Repair.  American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 210: 107-111, 2014.


Choi H, Madsen JR, Scott RM, Warf BC, Cohen AR, Huebenthal E, Jernigan SC, Goumnerova L:  Intracranial arachnoid cysts and hemorrhage.  Neurosurgery Suppl 1:220. Doi: 10.1227/, 2014.


Cohen AR:  Boston Children’s Hospital and the origin of pediatric neurosurgery.  Child’s Nervous System, 2014, DOI 10.1007/s00381-014-2535-z (Cover Article).

The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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