Skip to Main Content

Fellowship Programs

Complex Spinal Surgery Fellowship

Program Overview

This is a 12-month fellowship, accredited by the Society of Neurological Surgeons Committee for Advanced Subspecialty Training (CAST). This program offers fellows advanced training and education in the neurosurgical management of diseases and deformities of the spine, including prevention, evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment (both medical and surgical) of the spine, spinal cord, surrounding soft tissues, nerves, and vascular structures. Fellows will be offered a broad range of education and training in both complex and minimally invasive spine cases.


Complex Spinal Surgery is an academic fellowship with a three-fold mission to provide advanced training for neurosurgeons in clinical care, innovative research, and preparation for a career in academic teaching. Fellows will treat patients of diverse population of primarily adult patients in the Tampa Bay area and surrounding counties of West Florida, suffering from conditions or diseases affecting the spine.

Training Site

Tampa General Hospital

This fellowship is based at Tampa General Hospital. This 1,000+ bed teaching hospital is the primary teaching hospital for USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. As the only Level I Trauma Center in the Tampa Bay area, TGH serves as the main tertiary care facility for West Central Florida. TGH receives neurosurgical patients from all parts of Florida and the greater southeast region. There are 32-dedicated, state of the art neurological-ICU beds, and 18-dedicated trauma-ICU beds. TGH is also home to the only Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program designated by the Florida Department of Health, offering patients sustaining spinal cord injuries comprehensive care beyond surgical services.

Program Structure

Throughout the duration of the fellowship, time spent between clinical education and research duties will be roughly 80% and 20%, respectively.

  • The fellow will fully integrate into the neurosurgery service at Tampa General Hospital, gaining experience in ambulatory clinics, inpatient, critical care, and operative procedures. Specific clinical duties include:

    • Operative cases 2-3 days per week
    • Outpatient spine clinics, 1-2 days per week
    • Secondary call responsibilities with Chief Residents, on average 1 weekend per month.
  • The fellow will attend and participate in all academic conferences for the Department of Neurosurgery including:

    • Weekly Grand Rounds, with the expectation that the fellow will present lectures at least biannually
    • Quality Assurance (M&M)
    • Regularly scheduled journal clubs, with the expectation that the fellow will participate in selecting spine-related articles
    • Leadership role in weekly Spine Conference, working with residents to prepare spine cases for review and assessment by the Spine faculty and neurosurgery residents
    • Participate as Course Faculty, including planning of agenda and curriculum for the annual Cahill Spine Symposium/Resident Education Course
    • Participation and/or Course Faculty role in additional cadaveric spine courses offered to residents throughout the year
  • Time throughout the fellowship (on average, 1 day/week, or 20%) will be allocated for clinical and/or basic scientific research related to spinal neurosurgery. Fellows should collaborate with spinal faculty and residents on publications, with at least one manuscript accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The department has support staff and resources in place to facilitate new research initiatives, including NIH grant applications. Fellows are encouraged to submit their work for presentation at regional and national conferences (e.g. AANS, NASS, SMISS). Trainees are provided with financial support to attend professional conferences when they have been accepted as presenters.

Program Leadership

  • Puya Alikhani, MD, FAANS Puya Alikhani, MD, FAANS
    Puya Alikhani, MD, FAANS
    Program Director, CAST Spine Fellowship
    Director, Division of Spine Surgery
    Associate Professor