Ann M. Parr, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery
University of Minnesota
Anyone who has ever met, worked with, or been trained by Karin M. Muraszko, MD, knows how incredibly special she is. Now her remarkable talents and accomplishments will be rightly shared with a far wider audience. On Jan. 24, 2016, CNN aired, “The Person Who Changed My Life,” a two-hour special during which CNN’s anchors and correspondents took viewers on in-depth, revealing, and emotional journeys to meet the heroes of their lives.
Dr. Murasko mentored Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, during his seven-year neurosurgical residency at the University of Michigan Health System, and is the first (and is still the only one) woman to become a neurosurgery department chair in the United States, steering the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Michigan Health System since 2005. One of the largest in the country, the department houses a small army of neurosurgeons and multiple research faculty members who work together to treat the entire spectrum of neurosurgical diseases with state of the art interventions. From the youngest to the oldest, her team works to treat patients with disorders such as severe traumatic injuries, brain tumors, congenital malformations, peripheral nerve disorders and much more.
Dr. Muraszko was born with spina bifida, a condition that prevents the spine from properly developing. As a result, she has had difficulty walking, making her accomplishments even more noteworthy. According to Dr. Gupta, “she never spent a lot of time talking about it. Instead, she came into the hospital earlier, stayed later and worked harder than everyone else. And that is saying something, because Karin is a pediatric neurosurgeon, a profession that required 100-hour work weeks during her training.”
Dr. Muraszko was also one of a few pioneers who established Women In Neurosurgery (WINS) in 1990. She was the third president of WINS and, since its inception, she has served continuously on the WINS Executive Board — providing extraordinary mentorship and guidance to other women in neurosurgery for more than 25 years. In addition to being the first woman neurosurgical department chair, she has the distinction of being the first woman to serve on the American Board of Neurological Surgeons and the Residency Review Committee for Neurological Surgery.
As Dr. Gupta aptly put it, “we all need someone like Karin in our lives,” someone who believes in us and shows us that nothing is impossible. As people watch CNN’s special (video embedded below), it is my hope that they see Dr. Muraszko not only as the individual who changed Dr. Gupta’s life but also how she changed the lives of her countless patients and future generations of neurosurgeons.
Dr. Karin Muraszko is one of the truly unique and remarkable faces of neurosurgery and along with CNN, we applaud her many accomplishments.