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Thompson named director of pediatric neurosurgery

Physician-scientist’s focus is on pediatric brain tumors

by Kristina SauerweinMarch 20, 2024

Courtesy of Eric Thompson

Eric Thompson, MD, a pediatric neurosurgeon noted for his expertise in caring for children with complex neurological conditions, particularly brain and spinal tumors, has been named director of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and neurosurgeon-in-chief at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

He begins his new role Aug. 5.

Thompson is a professor of neurological surgery, of pediatrics and of cancer biology at the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago and director of pediatric neurosurgery at the university’s Comer Children’s Hospital.

“I’m thrilled to announce that Dr. Eric Thompson will be the next chief of pediatric neurosurgery,” said Gregory J. Zipfel, MD, head of Washington University’s Department of Neurosurgery and the Ralph G. Dacey Distinguished Professor of Neurosurgery. “Eric is a highly skilled neurosurgeon and a demonstrated leader in the field of pediatric neurosurgery. He brings a strategic vision, and under his leadership, I know our pediatric division will continue to thrive in both innovation and research. Most importantly, Eric is deeply passionate about caring for our young patients and their families.”

Thompson is noted for his research into and treatment of pediatric brain tumors, particularly medulloblastoma, one of the most common kinds of cancerous brain tumors in children. Among the treatments he performs are minimally invasive procedures, stereotactic neurosurgery and laser interstitial thermal therapy, each with the intent to deliver the best possible options for his patients. He also aims to harness immunotherapy strategies to improve patient outcomes.

Before he joined UChicago Medicine in 2023, Thompson served for a decade on the faculty at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. He earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from Duke in 2002 and his medical degree, with honors, from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine in Omaha in 2006. Thompson completed his neurosurgical residency at Oregon Health & Science University Hospital in Portland, Ore., in 2013 and, the following year, a fellowship at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead one of the most prestigious and storied pediatric neurosurgery programs in the world,” Thompson said. “It is truly a privilege to join the team at Washington University Department of Neurosurgery and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. I look forward to contributing to the already outstanding pediatric brain tumor program and working to make it even better.”

Thompson succeeds David D. Limbrick Jr., MD, PhD, who headed the division from 2016 until last year; and interim chief Jennifer M. Strahle, MD, a professor of neurosurgery, of orthopedic surgery and of pediatrics.

About Washington University School of Medicine

WashU Medicine is a global leader in academic medicine, including biomedical research, patient care and educational programs with 2,900 faculty. Its National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding portfolio is the second largest among U.S. medical schools and has grown 56% in the last seven years. Together with institutional investment, WashU Medicine commits well over $1 billion annually to basic and clinical research innovation and training. Its faculty practice is consistently within the top five in the country, with more than 1,900 faculty physicians practicing at 130 locations and who are also the medical staffs of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals of BJC HealthCare. WashU Medicine has a storied history in MD/PhD training, recently dedicated $100 million to scholarships and curriculum renewal for its medical students, and is home to top-notch training programs in every medical subspecialty as well as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and audiology and communications sciences.

Kristina covers pediatrics, surgery, medical education and student life. In 2020, she received a gold Robert G. Fenley Writing Award for general staff writing from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and in 2019, she received the silver award. Kristina is an author and former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Los Angeles Times, where she was part of a team of journalists that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for breaking news. Additionally, she covered the 2014 Ferguson unrest for TIME magazine and, for eight years, wrote a popular parenting column for