Benjamin C. Warf, MD

Benjamin C. Warf, MD

Director, Neonatal and Congenital Anomaly Neurosurgery; Associate in Neurosurgery

Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, Harvard Medical School

"My experience as both a parent and a provider has deepened my understanding of treating children with disabilities and has particularly enriched my practice in the care of children with hydrocephalus and spina bifida and their families."

Medical Services


  • Antenatal Evaluations
  • Congenital Malformations
  • Choroid Plexus Cauterization CPC
  • Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy ETV
  • Endoscopy
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Minimally Invasive Surgery
  • Neonatal Neurosurgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Spina Bifida


  • Neurosurgery


  • English


  • Advanced Fetal Care Center
  • Hydrocephalus Program
  • Neurosurgical Service
  • Spina Bifida Center
To schedule an appointment: Call 617-355-6008 or Request an Appointment
Benjamin C. Warf, MD

I am guided by my Christian conviction to use my skills as a surgeon and scientist for the good of others, and am an advocate for children who have complex medical needs and their families both here and in the developing world. 

My father, a pastor in the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky, instilled these values in me through his ministry to the poor. I grew up in a family that was committed to service. I loved science, and became a doctor because I believed it would give me the greatest opportunity to use my gifts for the benefit of others.

This belief has shaped my career as a neurosurgeon. After medical school at Harvard and a post-residency fellowship at Boston Children's Hospital, I became chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery and director of Surgical Education at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. In the 1990s, my commitment to global pediatric neurosurgery increased, and I sought a way to help children and train doctors in the developing world. In 2000, I found the right opportunity in Uganda with CURE International, where we had the opportunity to found the first pediatric neurosurgery facility in sub-Saharan Africa. My wife and I sold our farm in Kentucky and moved our family of six children to Africa.

I am also motivated personally by my children, one of whom was born with special needs. My experience as both a parent and a provider has deepened my understanding of treating children with disabilities and has particularly enriched my practice in the care of children with hydrocephalus and spina bifida and their families.

We returned to the U.S. in 2006, when our daughter needed surgery, and after I had successfully trained successors of African neurosurgeons to take over in Uganda. I feel honored at Boston Children's Hospital to have an international platform where I can continue to advance my work in global surgery and reach more children and families.

Experience and Education



Georgetown College, 1980

Georgetown, Kentucky

Medical School

Harvard Medical School, 1984

Cambridge, Massachusetts


Surgery - Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals of Cleveland, 1984-1985

Cleveland, Ohio


Neurosurgery - Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals of Cleveland, 1985-1991

Cleveland, Ohio


Neurosurgery - Boston Children's Hospital, 1991-1992

Boston, Massachusetts


  • ABNS - American Board of Neurological Surgery

  • ABPNS - American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery

  • Neurological Surgery, Pediatric Neurological Surgery

Professional History

I am a pediatric neurosurgeon specializing in hydrocephalus, spina bifida and neuroendoscopy with a passion for training the next generation of surgeons and improving access to quality care both here and abroad.

I am the director of Neonatal and Congenital Neurosurgery and hold the chair in hydrocephalus and spina bifida at Boston Children's Hospital.  I founded the Global Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida Program here and, in 2016, started the hospital's first global pediatric neurosurgery fellowship.

The Harvard community has played a major role in my development. I graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1984, was the first fellow in pediatric neurosurgery at Boston Children’s Hospital under emeritus chief, Dr. R. Michael Scott, and was a Harvard-Macy Scholar in Medical Education.

I felt strongly about using my expertise in parts of the world where medical resources are scarce. From 2000 to 2006, I served as chief of surgery and founding medical director at CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda, the only pediatric neurosurgery hospital in sub-Saharan Africa. I remain the hospital's director of research and am a member of the CURE International Board of Trustees, for which I also act as senior medical advisor. I serve as the medical director of the CURE Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida Program that trains and equips surgeons in developing countries to treat these conditions throughout the world.

While treating children with hydrocephalus in Uganda, I developed a novel treatment for hydrocephalus in infants by combining endoscopic third ventriculostomy and choroid plexus cauterization (ETV/CPC), which avoided the risk and expense of shunt dependence for the majority. To date, through CURE Hydrocephalus, surgeons in more than 20 countries have been trained and equipped in this technique, and more than 17,000 children have been treated for hydrocephalus, many of which would not have been treated otherwise.

Since joining Boston Children's Hospital in 2009, I have shown the efficacy of ETV/CPC for infant hydrocephalus in the United States, and have trained North American pediatric neurosurgeons across the country in the technique.

In 2007 I was presented with the Humanitarian Award of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, and in 2012 I was honored to received a MacArthur “Genius” grant for improving access to care and standards of that care both at home and in the developing world.


My research efforts have focused primarily on hydrocephalus in the developing world and in the United States, defining, validating, and reproducing a novel, low-cost method for treating this condition.

During my time as a neurosurgeon in Uganda, I was the first to identify neonatal infection as the most common cause of hydrocephalus in East Africa. I uncovered a correlation between the rainfall cycle and these infections. I pioneered and tested an alternative to shunts for this population, combining endoscopic third ventriculostomy and choroid plexus cauterization (ETV/CPC). Much of my research has focused on outcomes for this surgery.

Our work was the first to demonstrate equivalence in early childhood development between ETV/CPC and shunt treatment and the first to show the effect of previous ETV or CPC on subsequent shunt function.  My research analyzed the disease burden and economic impact for infant hydrocephalus in sub-Saharan Africa, and provided a detailed cost-benefit analysis of its treatment -- among the first studies to demonstrate cost-effectiveness for any surgical procedure in a setting with limited resources.

Clinical outcomes have been an important part of my research. I documented the 5-year survival rates and functional outcomes for Ugandan infants treated for myelomeningocele and for post-infectious-hydrocephalus. I have also reported equivalent outcomes between an inexpensive Indian shunt and an American shunt costing 20 times more.

In 2012, I was awarded a grant from the NIH to carry out a prospective randomized trial of developmental and brain volume outcomes for shunt placement versus ETV/CPC in Ugandan infants with post-infectious hydrocephalus. This work has now received additional NIH funding for its completion and extension through a grant that began in August 2015.

By invitation, I have presented our work at the CDC as well as the NIH. I have testified before the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights, which resulted in the introduction of the International Hydrocephalus Treatment and Training Act (HR 3525) into the House of Representatives, and the subsequent introduction of HR 1468, the “Global Brain Health Act of 2015”.

My research, teaching, and leadership in both Africa and North America continue to inform and benefit one another with the ultimate goal of improving access to optimal, evidence-based, and sustainable treatment for children with hydrocephalus and spina bifida everywhere.


Publications powered by Harvard Catalyst
  1. Schiff SJ, Kiwanuka J, Riggio G, Nguyen L, Mu K, Sproul E, Bazira J, Mwanga-Amumpaire J, Tumusiime D, Nyesigire E, Lwanga N, Bogale KT, Kapur V, Broach JR, Morton SU, Warf BC, Poss M. Separating Putative Pathogens from Background Contamination with Principal Orthogonal Decomposition: Evidence for Leptospira in the Ugandan Neonatal Septisome. Front Med (Lausanne). 2016; 3:22.
  2. Shrestha R, Warf BC. Teaching NeuroImages: Interhemispheric multiloculated cyst with callosal dysgenesis in an infant. Neurology. 2016 Jan 5; 86(1):e10-1.
  3. Boivin MJ, Kakooza AM, Warf BC, Davidson LL, Grigorenko EL. Reducing neurodevelopmental disorders and disability through research and interventions. Nature. 2015 Nov 19; 527(7578):S155-60.
  4. Warf BC. "Who Is My Neighbor?" Global Neurosurgery in a Non-Zero-Sum World. World Neurosurg. 2015 Dec; 84(6):1547-9.
  5. Kahle KT, Kulkarni AV, Limbrick DD, Warf BC. Hydrocephalus in children. Lancet. 2016 Feb 20; 387(10020):788-99.
  6. Marano PJ, Stone SS, Mugamba J, Ssenyonga P, Warf EB, Warf BC. Reopening of an obstructed third ventriculostomy: long-term success and factors affecting outcome in 215 infants. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2015 Apr; 15(4):399-405.
  7. Mandell JG, Kulkarni AV, Warf BC, Schiff SJ. Volumetric brain analysis in neurosurgery: Part 2. Brain and CSF volumes discriminate neurocognitive outcomes in hydrocephalus. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2015 Feb; 15(2):125-32.
  8. Mandell JG, Hill KL, Nguyen DT, Moser KW, Harbaugh RE, McInerney J, Nsubuga BK, Mugamba JK, Johnson D, Warf BC, Boling W, Webb AG, Schiff SJ. Volumetric brain analysis in neurosurgery: Part 3. Volumetric CT analysis as a predictor of seizure outcome following temporal lobectomy. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2015 Feb; 15(2):133-43.
  9. Coelho G, Zanon N, Warf B. The role of simulation in neurosurgery. Childs Nerv Syst. 2014 Dec; 30(12):1997-2000.
  10. Coelho G, Warf B, Lyra M, Zanon N. Anatomical pediatric model for craniosynostosis surgical training. Childs Nerv Syst. 2014 Dec; 30(12):2009-14.
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  12. Coelho G, Zymberg S, Lyra M, Zanon N, Warf B. New anatomical simulator for pediatric neuroendoscopic practice. Childs Nerv Syst. 2015 Feb; 31(2):213-9.
  13. Stone SS, Warf BC. Combined endoscopic third ventriculostomy and choroid plexus cauterization as primary treatment for infant hydrocephalus: a prospective North American series. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2014 Nov; 14(5):439-46.
  14. Warf BC. Three steps forward and 2 steps back: the Echternach procession toward optimal hydrocephalus treatment. Neurosurgery. 2014 Aug; 61 Suppl 1:105-10.
  15. Choi H, Madsen JR, Scott RM, Warf BC, Cohen AR, Proctor MR, Huebenthal E, Jernigan SC, Goumnerova L. 183 Intracranial arachnoid cysts and hemorrhage. Neurosurgery. 2014 Aug; 61 Suppl 1:220.
  16. Lane JD, Mugamba J, Ssenyonga P, Warf BC. Effectiveness of the Bactiseal Universal Shunt for reducing shunt infection in a sub-Saharan African context: a retrospective cohort study in 160 Ugandan children. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2014 Feb; 13(2):140-4.
  17. Stagno V, Mugamba J, Ssenyonga P, Kaaya BN, Warf BC. Presentation, pathology, and treatment outcome of brain tumors in 172 consecutive children at CURE Children's Hospital of Uganda. The predominance of the visible diagnosis and the uncertainties of epidemiology in sub-Saharan Africa. Childs Nerv Syst. 2014 Jan; 30(1):137-46.
  18. Cohen AR, Couto J, Cummings JJ, Johnson A, Joseph G, Kaufman BA, Litman RS, Menard MK, Moldenhauer JS, Pringle KC, Schwartz MZ, Walker WO, Warf BC, Wax JR. Position statement on fetal myelomeningocele repair. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Feb; 210(2):107-11.
  19. Kiwanuka J, Bazira J, Mwanga J, Tumusiime D, Nyesigire E, Lwanga N, Warf BC, Kapur V, Poss M, Schiff SJ. The microbial spectrum of neonatal sepsis in Uganda: recovery of culturable bacteria in mother-infant pairs. PLoS One. 2013; 8(8):e72775.
  20. Warf BC. Congenital idiopathic hydrocephalus of infancy: the results of treatment by endoscopic third ventriculostomy with or without choroid plexus cauterization and suggestions for how it works. Childs Nerv Syst. 2013 Jun; 29(6):935-40.
  21. Warf BC, Bhai S, Kulkarni AV, Mugamba J. Shunt survival after failed endoscopic treatment of hydrocephalus. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2012 Dec; 10(6):463-70.
  22. Singla A, Silvera VM, Ciarlini P, Warf BC. Dysplastic-reactive choroid plexus presenting as an intramedullary tumor of the cervicomedullary junction in a patient with myelomeningocele. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2012 Nov; 10(5):406-10.
  23. Schiff SJ, Ranjeva SL, Sauer TD, Warf BC. Rainfall drives hydrocephalus in East Africa. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2012 Sep; 10(3):161-7.
  24. Warf BC, Tracy S, Mugamba J. Long-term outcome for endoscopic third ventriculostomy alone or in combination with choroid plexus cauterization for congenital aqueductal stenosis in African infants. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2012 Aug; 10(2):108-11.
  25. Warf BC. Educate one to save a few. Educate a few to save many. World Neurosurg. 2013 Feb; 79(2 Suppl):S15.e15-8.
  26. Patel KB, Taghinia AH, Proctor MR, Warf BC, Greene AK. Extradural myelomeningocele reconstruction using local turnover fascial flaps and midline linear skin closure. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2012 Nov; 65(11):1569-72.
  27. Jernigan SC, Berry JG, Graham DA, Bauer SB, Karlin LI, Hobbs NM, Scott RM, Warf BC. Risk factors of sudden death in young adult patients with myelomeningocele. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2012 Feb; 9(2):149-55.
  28. Warf BC. The impact of combined endoscopic third ventriculostomy and choroid plexus cauterization on the management of pediatric hydrocephalus in developing countries. World Neurosurg. 2013 Feb; 79(2 Suppl):S23.e13-5.
  29. Warf BC, Alkire BC, Bhai S, Hughes C, Schiff SJ, Vincent JR, Meara JG. Costs and benefits of neurosurgical intervention for infant hydrocephalus in sub-Saharan Africa. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2011 Nov; 8(5):509-21.
  30. Warf BC, Dagi AR, Kaaya BN, Schiff SJ. Five-year survival and outcome of treatment for postinfectious hydrocephalus in Ugandan infants. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2011 Nov; 8(5):502-8.
  31. Warf BC, Dewan M, Mugamba J. Management of Dandy-Walker complex-associated infant hydrocephalus by combined endoscopic third ventriculostomy and choroid plexus cauterization. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2011 Oct; 8(4):377-83.
  32. Warf BC. Hydrocephalus associated with neural tube defects: characteristics, management, and outcome in sub-Saharan Africa. Childs Nerv Syst. 2011 Oct; 27(10):1589-94.
  33. Warf BC, Campbell JW, Riddle E. Initial experience with combined endoscopic third ventriculostomy and choroid plexus cauterization for post-hemorrhagic hydrocephalus of prematurity: the importance of prepontine cistern status and the predictive value of FIESTA MRI imaging. Childs Nerv Syst. 2011 Jul; 27(7):1063-71.
  34. Warf BC, Wright EJ, Kulkarni AV. Factors affecting survival of infants with myelomeningocele in southeastern Uganda. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2011 Feb; 7(2):127-33.
  35. Li L, Padhi A, Ranjeva SL, Donaldson SC, Warf BC, Mugamba J, Johnson D, Opio Z, Jayarao B, Kapur V, Poss M, Schiff SJ. Association of bacteria with hydrocephalus in Ugandan infants. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2011 Jan; 7(1):73-87.
  36. Warf BC, Stagno V, Mugamba J. Encephalocele in Uganda: ethnic distinctions in lesion location, endoscopic management of hydrocephalus, and survival in 110 consecutive children. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2011 Jan; 7(1):88-93.
  37. Kulkarni AV, Warf BC, Drake JM, Mallucci CL, Sgouros S, Constantini S. Surgery for hydrocephalus in sub-Saharan Africa versus developed nations: a risk-adjusted comparison of outcome. Childs Nerv Syst. 2010 Dec; 26(12):1711-7.
  38. Warf BC. Pediatric hydrocephalus in East Africa: prevalence, causes, treatments, and strategies for the future. World Neurosurg. 2010 Apr; 73(4):296-300.
  39. Warf BC, Kulkarni AV. Intraoperative assessment of cerebral aqueduct patency and cisternal scarring: impact on success of endoscopic third ventriculostomy in 403 African children. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2010 Feb; 5(2):204-9.
  40. Warf BC, Mugamba J, Kulkarni AV. Endoscopic third ventriculostomy in the treatment of childhood hydrocephalus in Uganda: report of a scoring system that predicts success. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2010 Feb; 5(2):143-8.
  41. Warf B, Ondoma S, Kulkarni A, Donnelly R, Ampeire M, Akona J, Kabachelor CR, Mulondo R, Nsubuga BK. Neurocognitive outcome and ventricular volume in children with myelomeningocele treated for hydrocephalus in Uganda. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2009 Dec; 4(6):564-70.
  42. Warf BC. Neurosurgical humanitarian aid. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2009 Jul; 4(1):1-2; discussion 2-3.
  43. Boling W, Palade A, Wabulya A, Longoni N, Warf B, Nestor S, Alpitsis R, Bittar R, Howard C, Andermann F. Surgery for pharmacoresistant epilepsy in the developing world: A pilot study. Epilepsia. 2009 May; 50(5):1256-61.
  44. Warf BC, Campbell JW. Combined endoscopic third ventriculostomy and choroid plexus cauterization as primary treatment of hydrocephalus for infants with myelomeningocele: long-term results of a prospective intent-to-treat study in 115 East African infants. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2008 Nov; 2(5):310-6.
  45. Cappabianca P, Cinalli G, Gangemi M, Brunori A, Cavallo LM, de Divitiis E, Decq P, Delitala A, Di Rocco F, Frazee J, Godano U, Grotenhuis A, Longatti P, Mascari C, Nishihara T, Oi S, Rekate H, Schroeder HW, Souweidane MM, Spennato P, Tamburrini G, Teo C, Warf B, Zymberg ST. Application of neuroendoscopy to intraventricular lesions. Neurosurgery. 2008 Feb; 62 Suppl 2:575-97; discussion 597-8.
  46. Warf BC. Endoscopic third ventriculostomy and choroid plexus cauterization for pediatric hydrocephalus. Clin Neurosurg. 2007; 54:78-82.
  47. Warf BC. Comparison of endoscopic third ventriculostomy alone and combined with choroid plexus cauterization in infants younger than 1 year of age: a prospective study in 550 African children. J Neurosurg. 2005 Dec; 103(6 Suppl):475-81.
  48. Warf BC. Comparison of 1-year outcomes for the Chhabra and Codman-Hakim Micro Precision shunt systems in Uganda: a prospective study in 195 children. J Neurosurg. 2005 May; 102(4 Suppl):358-62.
  49. Warf BC. Hydrocephalus in Uganda: the predominance of infectious origin and primary management with endoscopic third ventriculostomy. J Neurosurg. 2005 Jan; 102(1 Suppl):1-15.
  50. Sacco DJ, Tylkowski CM, Warf BC. Nonselective partial dorsal rhizotomy: a clinical experience with 1-year follow-Up. Pediatr Neurosurg. 2000 Mar; 32(3):114-8.
  51. Warf BC, Donnelly MB, Schwartz RW, Sloan DA. Interpreting the judgment of surgical faculty regarding resident competence. J Surg Res. 1999 Sep; 86(1):29-35.
  52. Warf BC, Donnelly MB, Schwartz RW, Sloan DA. The relative contributions of interpersonal and specific clinical skills to the perception of global clinical competence. J Surg Res. 1999 Sep; 86(1):17-23.
  53. Fowler CL, Pulito AR, Warf BC, Vandenbrink KD. Separation of complex pygopagus conjoined twins. J Pediatr Surg. 1999 Apr; 34(4):619-22.
  54. Becherer TA, Davis DG, Hodes JE, Warf BC. Intracavernous teratoma in a school-aged child. Pediatr Neurosurg. 1999 Mar; 30(3):135-9.
  55. Kriss VM, Kriss TC, Warf BC. Dorsal tethering bands of the meningocele manque: sonographic findings. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1996 Nov; 167(5):1293-4.
  56. Kriss TC, Kriss VM, Warf BC. Cavernous sinus thrombophlebitis: case report. Neurosurgery. 1996 Aug; 39(2):385-9.
  57. Warf BC, Nelson KR. The electromyographic responses to dorsal rootlet stimulation during partial dorsal rhizotomy are inconsistent. Pediatr Neurosurg. 1996 Jul; 25(1):13-9.
  58. Kriss VM, Kriss TC, Desai NS, Warf BC. Occult spinal dysraphism in the infant. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1995 Dec; 34(12):650-4.
  59. Kriss TC, Kriss VM, Warf BC. Recurrent meningitis: the search for the dermoid or epidermoid tumor. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1995 Aug; 14(8):697-700.
  60. Kriss TC, Warf BC. Cervical paraspinous desmoid tumor in a child: case report. Neurosurgery. 1994 Nov; 35(5):956-9; discussion 959.
  61. Warf BC, Scott RM, Barnes PD, Hendren WH. Tethered spinal cord in patients with anorectal and urogenital malformations. Pediatr Neurosurg. 1993; 19(1):25-30.
  62. Warf BC, Fok-Seang J, Miller RH. Evidence for the ventral origin of oligodendrocyte precursors in the rat spinal cord. J Neurosci. 1991 Aug; 11(8):2477-88.
  63. Mapstone TB, Warf BC. Intracranial tumor in infants: characteristics, management, and outcome of a contemporary series. Neurosurgery. 1991 Mar; 28(3):343-8.
  64. Warf BC, Mapstone TB. Ventral brain-stem compression from a subarachnoid ependymal cyst. Childs Nerv Syst. 1990 Jun; 6(4):225-7.
  65. Lazebnik N, Pazmino R, Dierker LR, Takaoka Y, Warf BC. Maternal intracranial hemorrhage complicating severe superimposed preeclampsia. A case report. J Reprod Med. 1989 Oct; 34(10):857-60.
  66. Povirk LF, Dattagupta N, Warf BC, Goldberg IH. Neocarzinostatin chromophore binds to deoxyribonucleic acid by intercalation. Biochemistry. 1981 Jul 7; 20(14):4007-14.
To schedule an appointment: Call 617-355-6008 or Request an Appointment


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