Department of Surgery

As the only tertiary care medical center in Vermont, the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine’s Division of Neurosurgery provides comprehensive surgical management of disorders of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system. Since the division's establishment in 1948, we have been committed to translating leading-edge research into improved patient care.


Medical students and neurosurgery residents participate in a variety of research activities and provide care and an array of treatment options for patients who have brain and spinal disease. By facilitating critical thinking, we advance the knowledge needed to treat neurologic disorders and enhance the quality of clinical care.


Academic and Clinical Excellence


As physicians and scientists, the Division of Neurosurgery faculty brings intellectual curiosity, scientific rigor, and fundamental concern to our patients, our trainees, our colleagues, and the communities we serve in northern New England. 

We advance knowledge and innovation and enhance efficiency through clinical, translational, and mechanistic research studies designed to improve the care of patients with neurologic disease. We are dedicated to patient family-centered treatment of individuals with neurologic disease and to developing the next generation of neurosurgical physicians.  The UVM Neurosurgery Residency Program is fully accredited by ACGME and committed to training future leaders in the field to be outstanding clinicians, active investigators and experienced educators.

Faculty Spotlight


Tranmer 90x120Bruce Tranmer, MD, The Cordell Gross Green and Gold Professor of Neurosurgery, was honored with the Gordon Page Award for Clinical Excellence from the Department of Surgery at the UVM Larner College of Medicine.   His passion for both clinical excellence and the education of medical students and residents is unparalleled.  In addition to his expansive clinical expertise, he serves as the Program Director for the Neurosurgical Resident training program.  Under Dr. Tranmer’s guidance, the neurosurgery residency program at the University of Vermont Medical Center strives to train future leaders in neurological surgery.  

Surgery News

Through the Looking Glass: Conducting a Slit Lamp Exam for the First Time

October 30, 2017 by Michelle Bookless

On Monday, October 23, after a full day of classes, a group of 17 medical students from the UVM Larner College of Medicine attended a Slit Lamp Exam clinic hosted by the Ophthalmology Student Interest Group (SIG) and the Ophthalmology Department at the UVM Medical Center.

Purvi Shah '20 exams Nick Haslett's '21 eye as UVM assistant professor of surgery David Diaz, M.D., instructs the two students on how to properly conduct a Slit Lamp Exam

On Monday, October 23, after a full day of classes, a group of 17 medical students from the UVM Larner College of Medicine attended a Slit Lamp Exam clinic hosted by the Ophthalmology Student Interest Group (SIG) and the Ophthalmology Department at the UVM Medical Center.

The group was welcomed to Level 5 of the West Pavilion by faculty advisors to the Ophthalmology SIG, Brian Kim, M.D., an associate professor of ophthalmology at UVM and vitreoretinal surgeon at the UVM Medical Center, and Elizabeth Houle, M.D., an assistant professor ophthalmology at UVM and ophthalmologist at the UVM Medical Center. 

Although somewhat subdued while enjoying pizza before the clinic began, it was hard for the seven second-year and 10 first-year students to stay quiet for long as each of the seven ophthalmology attending physicians volunteering for the clinic walked into the room and introduced themselves. The energy and enthusiasm displayed by Drs. Kim and Houle and their colleagues, Sujata Singh, MD, Phil Aitken, MD, Stephen Pecsenyicki, MD, Jessica McNally, MD, David Diaz, MD, Robert Millay, MD, and Lisa Alexander, MD was contagious and the sound of excited gasps, cheers, and exclamations of wonder, and laughter soon bubbled out of exam rooms around the suite.

To give the students the best experience possible, each attending physician paired with only two to three students a piece. The thoughtfulness and impact of the decision was not lost on Collin Love ‘20. “I expected to have a group of doctors more or less demoing the exam to a group of us. I really didn’t expect that it was going to be just 2 students and 1 physician,” he said. “We spent the whole time with our hands on the different equipment and seeing exactly what an ophthalmologist would see and do during a Slit Lamp Exam.”

Throughout the clinic, each attending physician approached the material they were teaching in their own unique and engaging way.

In one exam room, Dr. Alexander, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at UVM explained the basics of administering a Slit Lamp Exam and then led students Collin Anderson ’21 and Flora Liu ’21 in a game of “Find the Nerve.” As Dr. Alexander turned off the light, Anderson, a bit timidly at first bent toward Liu and peered into her eye using a handheld retinoscope. After a bit of muttering and some nervous laughter, Anderson shouted triumphantly. He had won is round of “Find the Nerve.” Turning the light back on Dr. Alexander asked Anderson to describe what he’d just seen and he happily and excitedly obliged.  

Down the hall, Kalle Fjeld ’21, Susan Campbell ’21, and Nate Benner ’20, were walked through the different aspects of the Slit Lamp by Dr. Millay including how to adjust it, how to avoid postural injuries after prolonged use, different lenses and their distinct purposes, and how to adjust the beam of the slit lamp while looking for specific things within the eye. Peering into Dr. Millay’s eye, Benner says he was “mesmerized by the iris,” and was “struck by the physical manifestation of the content [he’s] been learning about.” “I was able to remember some of its structure and function,” he said, “[and] appreciate the anterior chamber and begin to imagine how it might look different in pathological states.”

Nearly all of the student attendees agreed that the clinic exceeded their expectations. The physicians’ down-to-earth personalities, willingness to answer questions, and enthusiastic explanations of their specific careers coupled with the thrill of seeing “a crystal-clear close-up of the iris for the first time,” guaranteed that most, if not all, will most certainly be attending the next Ophthalmology SIG event.