Skip to main content

Bizhan Aarabi, MD

Academic Title:

Clinical Professor

Primary Appointment:


Administrative Title:

Director of Neurotrauma

Additional Title:

Director of Neurotrauma


UMMC South, 12th floor, Suite S12-D, Room 09A

Phone (Primary):

(410) 328-7371

Phone (Secondary):

(410) 328-3514


(410) 328-1420

Education and Training


  • Saadi High School, 1959-1965, Abadeh, Iran
  • Pre-Med, 1967 Pahlavi University School of Arts and Sciences Shiraz, Iran.
  • M.D. 1973 Pahlavi University Medical School in Shiraz, Iran.

Post Graduate Education and Training

  • 1972-1973 Nemazee Hospital, Shiraz Iran, Neurosurgical Internship
  • 1973-1974 Cook County Hospital, Chicago IL, Surgical Internship
  • 1974-1979 Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore MD, Neurosurgical Residency
  • 1980-1980 Wellesley Hospital, Toronto Canada, Neurosurgery Fellowship
  • 1981-1981 Hamilton General Hospital, Hamilton Canada, Neurosurgery Fellowship
  • 1989-1990 University of Nebraska, Lincoln Nebraska, Neurosurgery Fellowship


  • Diplomate National Board of Medical Examiners, 1977
  • Diplomate American Board of Neurosurgery, 1982
  • Fellow Royal College Surgeons of Canada, 1983

Medical Licensures

  • 1977 Medicine and Surgery, State of Maryland
  • 1989 Medicine and Surgery, State of Nebraska


I treat patients with severe, traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. The sophisticated technology of this world-renown program allows us to assess conditions quickly and make life-saving decisions.

With my team of general surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, nurse practitioners and residents, we help patients through what can be one of the scariest times in their lives.

We may monitor patients for several days, and, if needed, perform surgery. For traumatic brain injuries, we are prepared to perform surgery immediately. For spinal injuries, the window is around 24 hours.

Both traumatic brain injuries and traumatic spinal cord injuries are our focuses of research in the Department of Neurosurgery's Neurotrauma Division. For the past 20 years, we have published nearly 150 original manuscripts , which have received a high number of citations. We are funded by the NIH, Department of Defense and Industry who have requested us to participate in randomized clinical trials.

You can browse my publications on PubMed.

We have participated in several clinical trials, including:

  • Stem Cell in SCI
  • North American Clinical Trial Network (NACTN registry)
  • CORBIT (supported by NIH)
  • RISCIS (supported by AO Spine)


Research/Clinical Keywords

Traumatic Cervical Spinal Cord Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury

Highlighted Publications

Oner FC, Sadiqi S, Lehr AM, Dvorak MF, Aarabi B, Chapman JR, Fehlings MG, Kandziora F, Rajasekaran S, Vaccaro AR. Towards the development of an outcome instrument for spinal trauma: an international survey of spinal surgeons. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2015 Jan 15;40(2):E91-6. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000000684.PubMed PMID: 25575093.

Kepler CK, Vaccaro AR, Koerner JD, Dvorak MF, Kandziora F, Rajasekaran S, Aarabi B, Vialle LR, Fehlings MG, Schroeder GD, Reinhold M, Schnake KJ, Bellabarba C, Cumhur Öner F. Reliability analysis of the AOSpine thoracolumbar spine injury classification system by a worldwide group of naïve spinal surgeons. Eur Spine J. 2015 Jan 20. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 25599849

Hurlbert RJ, Hadley MN, Walters BC, Aarabi B, Dhall SS, Gelb DE, Rozzelle CJ, Ryken TC, Theodore N. Pharmacological therapy for acute spinal cord injury. Neurosurgery. 2015 Mar;76 Suppl 1:S71-83. doi: 10.1227/01.neu.0000462080.04196.f7. PubMed PMID: 25692371.

Vaccaro AR, Koerner JD, Radcliff KE, Oner FC, Reinhold M, Schnake KJ, Kandziora F, Fehlings MG, Dvorak MF, Aarabi B, Rajasekaran S, Schroeder GD, Kepler CK, Vialle LR. AOSpine subaxial cervical spine injury classification system. Eur Spine J. 2015 Feb 26. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 25716661.

Le E, Aarabi B, Hersh DS, Shanmuganathan K, Diaz C, Massetti J, Akhtar-Danesh N. Predictors of intramedullary lesion expansion rate on MR images of patients with subaxial spinal cord injury. J Neurosurg Spine. 2015 Mar 6:1-11. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 25746115.

Additional Publication Citations

You can browse his publications on PubMed.



An introduction to the treatment of craniocerebral battle wounds. Bizhan Aarabi (ed), Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Research. Shiraz University Press, 1987.

Beyond Coma: Brain Death, Bizhan Aarabi (ed) Parvaz Press, Shiraz, Iran, 1993, 150 pages.

Missile Injuries of the Head and Neck. Bizhan Aarabi and Howard Kaufman (eds), American Association of Neurological Surgeons Publications Office, New Hampshire, 1999.

Research Interests

Neurotrauma including cervical spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries are my main interests. While at Hopkins, I worked on cold induced vasogenic brain edema in a cat model for one year. In this investigation it was learned that lesion excision completely interrupted edema spread. This study was completed in the Neurosurgical Department laboratory facilities with Drs. Donlin M Long and Melvin Epstein. We also evaluated the effectiveness of choleratoxin on the genesis and spread of cold induced brain edema in cats. From 1980-1988, while at the Shiraz University Medical School, I studied vascular, infectious and epileptic complications of penetrating brain injury in war casualties of Iran-Iraq war. At the University of Nebraska I was the PI of two major multicenter therapeutic trials in severe head injury: CP101-606 and Selfotel. At the University of Maryland we have been intensely involved in PRCT studies of Dexanabinol and COBRIT in TBI. From 2000-2006 we investigated the merits of decompressive craniectomy in severe head injury. One of the clinical studies I am very much interested in is traumatic cervical central cord syndrome. In 2007 the State of Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene funded a randomized study of the timing of decompression in central cord syndrome which was completed in 2009. From 2010-2016 we have completed a phase I/II effect of Riluzole on cervical SCI (2010-2012), Glyburide and Ischemic stroke (2011-2013), Serum biomarkers in SCI (2011-2012, The PRCT RISCIS (Riluzole in Spinal Cord Injury Study) funded by AO Foundation, Stem cell in SCI (2015 Stem Cell Incorporated).  Clinically my main interest is genesis and expansion of spinal cord edema following cervical spinal core injury and central cord syndrome.  From 2007-2016 we have completed three validated Morphology Classification of thoracolumbar and cervical spine fracture subluxations.  We are currently screening patients for RCT VERTEX study in SCI.    

Clinical Specialty Details

Primary interest and specialty are cervical traumatic spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury.

Awards and Affiliations

  • 1973: Valedictorian, Pahlavi University Medical School
  • 1973: Highest Achievement Award, Shiraz University Medical School
  • 1987: First Prize Award, “Traumatic aneurysms due to missile head wounds”
  • 1990: Medal of Honor and Achievement, Iranian Government
  • 2001: Hero Award, R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center
  • 2002: Hero Award, R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center
  • 2003: Hero Award, R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center
  • 2004: Hero Award, R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center
  • 2006: Hero Award, R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center
  • 2007: Hero Award, R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center
  • 2010: Hero Award, R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center

Grants and Contracts


09/17/2015- Co-Investigator 1% PI: D. Stein
Present "Assessing the Accuracy and the Impact of Standard Practice Ventricular Drainage on Intracranial Pressure Measurements Following TBI"
Air Force
03/16/2015- Principal Investigator 3%
Present "A Single-Blind, Randomized, Parallel Arm, Phase II Proof-of-Concept Study of the Safety and Efficacy of HuCNS-SC Transplantation in Cervical Spinal Cord Injury"
Stem Cell, Inc.

11/08/2013- Principal Investigator 5%
Present "A Multi-Center, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blinded, Trial of Efficacy and Safety of Riluzole in Acute Spinal Cord Injury"
AO Spine North America

06/01/2013- Principal Investigator 5%
Present "A Multi-Center, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blinded, Trial of Efficacy and Safety of Riluzole in Acute Spinal Cord Injury
Christopher Reeve Foundation

06/01/2016 Principal Investigator 5%
"A Phase 2b/3, Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Multicenter Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of VX-210 in Subjects With Acute Traumatic Cervical Spinal Cord Injury.
Vertex Study Number: VX15-210-101


06/01/2007- Principal Investigator (3%)
05/2013 "North American Clinical Trials Network (NACTN) for Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury"
Christopher Reeve Foundation
NCT00178724; CTN1-2004(RG); W81XWH-07-1/0361

07/2007- Co-Investigator (15%) PI: H.M. Eisenberg
12/2012 "Citicoline Brain Injury Treatment Trial (CORBIT)"
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child and Health and Human Development @NIH
NCT00545662; BA-HD042, HD042687-04, HD042738-05, HD042678-03, HD042653-05, HD042689-05, HD042736-04, HD 042686-01A1, HD042652-04, HD042823-05

04/2010- Principal Investigator (3%)
08/2012 "Safety and Pharmacokinetics of Riluzole in Patients With Traumatic Acute Spinal Cord Injury"
Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and The Department of Defense
ID #HP-40687; IND 79,600; NCT00876889

2011-2015 Co-Investigator PI: H.M. Eisenberg
"Glyburide: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Treatment Study of Glyburide in Ischemic Stroke"
Department of Defense/USA MRMC

2011-2012 Co-Investigator PI: H.M. Eisenberg
"Serum Biomarkers: Correlation between biomarkers, MR imaging, and six month ASIA exam in spinal cord injury patients"
Department of Defense
ID# 10492195

04/2009- Co-Investigator (1%) PI: H.M. Eisenberg

05/2010 "A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-Controlled Dose Escalation Study to Investigate the Safety and Pharmacokinetics after Single and Multiple Doses of SLV334 in Sequential Cohorts of Patients with Moderate and
Severe Traumatic Brain Injury"
Solvay Pharmaceuticals
NCT00735085; S334.2.002
$17,200.00 per patient, contracted for five

10/27/2009- Co-Principal Investigator (1%) PI: H.M. Eisenberg

03/30/2010 "Multi-center prospective randomized trial of early decompressive Craniectomy in patients with severe brain injury (DECRA)"
ANZICS CTG: Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society Clinical Trials Group
ID # HP-42186; CCT ID # 0396-09; NCT00155987
$1,200.00 per patient; contracted for five

Professional Activity

Professional Society Memberships

  • 1982-Present: Member, American Association of Neurosurgical Surgeons
  • 1983-Present: Member, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
  • 1984-Present: Member, Congress of Neurological Surgeons
  • 1990-2001: Member, Joint Section on Tumors of the AANS/CNS
  • 1992-2001: Member, New York Academy of Sciences
  • 1993-Present: Member, Joint Section on Trauma of the AANS/CNS
  • 1994-2005: Member, American Medical Association
  • 1994-Present: Member, American College of Surgeons
  • 2001-2004: Member, MedChi, State of Maryland Medical Society
  • 2005-2009: University of Maryland School of Medicine Council
  • 2006-2010: Liaison, Physician Compliance Liaison, Department of Neurosurgery
  • 2006-2007: Director, University of Maryland Student Neurosurgical Education
  • 2007-2014: Member, Institutional Review Board, University of Maryland, Baltimore

Previous Positions

  • 1979-1990: Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Associate Professor, Neurosurgery
  • 1990-1995: Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Professor and Chairman, Neurosurgery
  • 1995-2000: University of Nebraska Medical Center, Associate Professor, Neurosurgery
  • 2000-2007: University of Maryland School of Medicine, Associate Professor, Neurosurgery
  • 2000-Present: R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, Director of Neurotrauma, UMMC
  • 2007-Present: University of Maryland School of Medicine, Professor, Neurosurgery