CAT scan
By Michael Haederle

Ahead of the Rest

UNM Doctors Named Multidisciplinary Team of Distinction by North American Skull Base Society

The North American Skull Base Society (NASBS) has selected The University of New Mexico School of Medicine as a Multidisciplinary Team of Distinction – one of just 28 such programs receiving the recognition.

UNM joins some prestigious programs on the 2021 list, including MD Anderson Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic, Barrow Neurological Institute and the University of Pittsburgh. It is one of just a half dozen programs located in the West.

Skull base surgery entails complex procedures in hard-to-access areas and requires the involvement of physicians from multiple specialties, said Christian Bowers, MD, vice chair for clinical affairs in the UNM Department of Neurosurgery.

“It’s a big deal to have this recognition,” Bowers said. “We have a great team here.”

NASBS bases its listing on the inclusion of participants from a variety of specialties, including:

  • One member in an NASBS core specialty such as otolaryngology, rhinology or neuro-otology
  • One member in an NASBS core specialty such as neurosurgery or neuroradiology
  • Two members in NASBS non-core specialties such as ophthalmology, radiology, radiation oncology, oral maxillo-facial surgery, head and neck reconstructive surgery, plastic surgery, endocrinology, pathology or medical oncology



Christian Bowers, MD

It’s a big deal to have this recognition – we have a great team here

Christian Bowers, MD

Bowers, who previously had worked at Westchester Medical Center in New York with UNM Neurosurgery chair Meic Schmidt, MD, completed his neurosurgery residence at the University of Utah and a skull base and cerebrovascular fellowship at Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle.

He set about bolstering UNM’s skull base team when he joined the faculty 15 months ago. He praised colleagues in endocrinology, neuroradiology, rhinology and neuro-ophthalmology as well as his fellow neurosurgeons for their contributions. “It’s a good example of teamwork within the university,” he said.

Skull base surgery often involves minimally invasive procedures in which instruments are inserted through the nose or ear to access pituitary tumors, acoustical neuromas and other abnormalities.

These conditions are relatively rare, so New Mexicans benefit from the UNM team’s advanced expertise, Bowers said. “We probably average 70 pituitary cases a year,” he said. “We’re the only place doing pituitary cases in the state.”

Bowers's physician colleagues in the multidiscplinary team include:

Neurootology -- Brad Pickett (Otolaryngology)

Rhinology -- Liat Shama (Otolaryngology), Garth Olson (Otolaryngology)

Head and Neck Surgery -- Garth Olson (Otolaryngology)

Neuroradiology -- Jacob Ormsby

Endocrinology -- Kristen Gonzales and Christine Lovato

Neuroendovascular Surgery -- Javed Eliyas and Andrew Carlson

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