UC San Diego Health

Medical Group / IPA

Rady Children's Specialists

Medical School

John Hopkins University School of Medicine


University of Southern California


State Univ of NY at Buffalo School of Medicine

Board Certifications





Alexander Khalessi, MD, MBA, is a board-certified neurosurgeon who specializes in cranial surgery, endovascular neurosurgery, stroke care, and neurological oncology. He is chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery and professor of neurological surgery, radiology and neurosciences at UC San Diego. In 2021, he was named the inaugural Don and Karen Cohn Chancellor's Endowed Chair in Neurosurgery.

Dr. Khalessi provides both open surgical and minimally invasive, catheter-based approaches to complex neurosurgical conditions, including brain tumors, aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations (AVM), carotid disease and ischemic stroke. He is passionate about finding innovative, personalized solutions that result in the best possible outcomes for his patients, and has been named a "Top Doc" in the annual San Diego Magazine "Physicians of Exceptional Excellence" survey.

An active clinical leader in the field of neurosurgery and the treatment of cerebrovascular disease, Dr. Khalessi holds several national leadership roles. He is the vice president of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), the nation's largest academic neurosurgical society, and co-chair of the CNS Foundation, which works to improve human health globally through neurosurgical excellence. Dr. Khalessi is in his second term on American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)/CNS' Washington Committee and sits on the Board of Governors for the American College of Surgeons (ACS).

Dr. Khalessi is a founding member of the Medical Device Innovation Consortium (MDIC) that advises the FDA on early clinical feasibility for emerging neurovascular devices. He serves on the NIH Interventional Advisory Panel for StrokeNet, which provides scientific oversight for federally funded research in neurovascular disease. Dr. Khalessi was selected by his peers to serve as vice chair of the UC Health Stroke and Cerebrovascular Consortium, which unites experts across all six UC campuses, and will chair the consortium in 2022.

A dedicated educator, Dr. Khalessi directs national and international training courses, including the intermediate resident course for the Society of Neurological Surgeons (SNS). Dr. Khalessi served on the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), Residency Review Committee (RRC) for Neurological Surgery, and editorial board for the Journal of Graduate Medical Education. He also participated in the authorship of the ACGME Neurosurgery and Endovascular Surgical Neuroradiology Milestone Projects.

Dr. Khalessi is widely published, authoring more than 150 peer-reviewed papers and monographs and more than 200 abstracts and presentations. He has served as principal or co-investigator of more than 25 clinical trials and grants. His research has spurred advances in the catheter-based treatment of ischemic stroke, endoscopic treatment of intracerebral hemorrhage, multi-modal treatment of cerebral aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), and complex surgical approaches to brain tumors.

Dr. Khalessi earned his medical degree at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and completed his neurosurgical residency at the University of Southern California, including an enfolded endovascular neurosurgery fellowship at State University of New York Buffalo. He obtained a bachelor's degree in public policy and master's degree in health services research from Stanford University, and holds a master's degree in business administration from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management.

Outside of work, Dr. Khalessi enjoys spending time with his wife Sara, a lawyer, and their two young sons.

See the full listing of this physician's publications on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

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