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Bizhan Aarabi, MD

Academic Title:

Clinical Professor

Primary Appointment:


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


Dr. Aarabi treats patients with severe, traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. He uses the sophisticated technology of the world-renowned integrated trauma hospital to assess conditions quickly and make life-saving decisions.

With his team of general surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, nurse practitioners and residents, Dr. Aarabi helps patients through what can be a scary time in their lives. He and his team may monitor patients for several days and, if needed, perform surgery. For traumatic brain injuries, they are prepared to perform surgery immediately. For spinal injuries, the window is around 24 hours.

Dr. Aarabi is a professor of neurosurgery and director of neurotrauma at University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM). Both traumatic brain injuries and traumatic spinal cord injuries are at the focus of research within the UMSOM Department of Neurosurgery's Neurotrauma Division. For the past 20 years, Dr. Aarabi and his peers have published nearly 150 original manuscripts, which have received a high number of citations. They are funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense and Industry, which have requested the neurotrauma team to participate in randomized clinical trials.

Dr. Aarabi has participated in several clinical trials, including:

  • Stem cell in spinal cord injury (SCI)
  • North American Clinical Trial Network (NACTN registry)
  • Citicoline brain injury treatment, or CORBIT (supported by NIH)
  • Riluzole in Spinal Cord Injury Study, or RISCIS (supported by AO Spine)

You can browse my publications on PubMed.


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



  • Co-Investigator 1% PI: J. Podell
  • “Dysautonomia in Spinal Cord Injury”
  • Shock Trauma Department Designated Funds (STDF0014)
  • $41,871.


  • Principal Investigator 5%
  • “IN-TWIN”: Traumatic Incomplete Tetraplegia Without Instability (HP-00104259)
  • AOSpine


  • Principal Investigator 5%
  • New Technique to Monitor Spinal Cord Perfusion Pressure (SCPP) (HP-00105202)
  • No budget, Supported technically by the Department of Neurosurgery.


  • Co-Investigator 1% PI: D. Stein
  • “Assessing the Accuracy and the Impact of Standard Practice Ventricular Drainage on Intracranial Pressure Measurements Following TBI”
  • Air Force
  • $441,000.


  • Principal Investigator 5%
  • “A Multi-Center, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blinded, Trial of Efficacy and Safety of Riluzole in Acute Spinal Cord Injury”
  • AO Spine North America
  • $119,679.00


  • Principal Investigator 5%
  • “A Multi-Center, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blinded, Trial of      Efficacy and Safety of Riluzole in Acute Spinal Cord Injury”
  • Christopher Reeve Foundation
  • $166,070.12


  • Kinjal Sethuraman PI
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Brain Injury Treatment (HOBIT) Trial: A Multicenter, Randomized, Prospective Phase II Adaptive Clinical Trial Evaluating the Most Effective Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Paradigm for Severe Traumatic Brain Injury.
  • $200,000


  • Konrad Walek PI
  • Charles Bagley Neurotrauma Research Fellowship
  • AIS grade on severe TBI and its effect on GOSE
  • $35, 568


  • Co-Investigator 1% PI: J Cherian
  • MEMBRANE n-BCA 1%                  



  • Principal Investigator (3%)
  • "North American Clinical Trials Network (NACTN) for Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury"
  • Christopher Reeve Foundation
  • NCT00178724; CTN1-2004(RG); W81XWH-07-1/0361
  • $581,877.00


  • Co-Investigator (15%) PI: H.M. Eisenberg
  • "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
  • $1,650,000.00


  • Principal Investigator (3%)
  • "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
  • $100,000.00


  • Co-Investigator PI: H.M. Eisenberg
  • "Glyburide: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Treatment Study of Glyburide in Ischemic Stroke"
  • Department of Defense/USA MRMC
  • Contract#W81XWH-08-2-0159
  • $1,465,476.00


  • 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
  • $506,251.00


  • Co-Investigator (1%) PI: H.M. Eisenberg
  • "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


  • Co-Principal Investigator (1%) PI: H.M. Eisenberg
  • "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