Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Endowed Professorships

The Robert A. Groff, MD Teaching and Research Chair of Neurosurgery

AppelThe Chair was established in 1997 by the bequest of Mary E. Groff to honor her brother, the prominent neurosurgeon Robert A. Groff, MD (1903–1975). A Pennand Perelman School of Medicine alumnus, Dr. Groff chaired the Departments of Neurosurgery at Graduate Hospital and at the Perelman School of Medicine. He was the inaugural holder of the Charles Harrison Frazier Professor of Neurosurgery chair.

Dr. Groff graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1925 and from the Perelman School of Medicine in 1928. He pursued a variety of fellowship sat Penn, in Boston and in Europe. During World War II he served with the20th General Hospital, the major military hospital organized and run by Penn Medicine to provide medical care for the American, British and Chinese forces in northeastern India. The Hospital won acclaim for achieving an overall mortality rate of only 0.4 per cent for its 73,000 patients despite primitive conditions and constant threat of malaria and other infectious diseases.

Following the war, Dr. Groff joined the faculty at Graduate Hospital, becoming Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery in 1955 and Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery in the Perelman School in 1957. He had trained under the legendary Dr. Charles Harrison Frazier (1870–1936) and in 1963 was appointed the first holder of the Frazier chair. Dr. Groff was granted emeritus status in 1973.



Current Chairholder:
Douglas H. Smith, MD

Douglas H. Smith, MD is the Robert A. Groff Professor and Vice Chairman for Teaching and Research in Neurosurgery and serves as Director of Penn’s Center for Brain Injury and Repair. Dr. Smith was recently appointed Scientific Director for the Big Ten/Ivy League consortium on concussion, and he is a member of the National Football League’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee. He has led several multi-center NIH and Department of Defense efforts on traumatic brain injury, as well as an NIH training grant. His group has established that damage and dysfunction of brain axons are the underlying causes of concussion and that this injury can trigger progressive neurodegeneration, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy. These collective efforts are represented in over 200 publications. For this work, Dr. Smith recently received the Dorothy Russell Medal, conveyed by the British Neuropathological Society.