October 06 Oct 06
Thursday Thu

Please register by September 29th:

Join via Zoom by clicking the link below.


Stanford Neurosurgery: Explore & Inspire

Join us for an intimate conversation with our diverse Stanford Neurosurgery team to discuss career paths in Neuroscience and overcoming obstacles.

  • Guidance: Receive guidance and support to navigate the Neuroscience field.
  • Meet: Meet and interact with Stanford Neurosurgery's Diverse Team.
  • Community: Build a community with others interested in Neurosciences. 

This event is open to all college students and medical students interested in the Neurosciences.


Odette Harris, MD, MPH

Dr. Odette Harris was born in Jamaica and came to the U.S. as a child. Dr. Harris graduated from Dartmouth College with a BA in Biology, and then received her MD from Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Harris then completed her residency at Stanford University Medical Center and continues to contribute to the Stanford community.  During her time at Stanford, she has been appointed to various notable roles, including, Director of the Defense Veterans Brain Injury Center, Deputy Chief of Staff, Rehabilitation (TBI, Spinal Cord Injury, Blind Service, PM&R), VAPAHCS, Chief of Staff, Polytrauma, VAPAHCS, and the Director of Brain Injury, Department of Neurosurgery. Many awards and honors have also been given in Dr. Harris' name, including, the Scientific Award, Caribbean Association Neuroscience Symposium, Advanced Stanford Leadership Development Program, Stanford University School of Medicine, President, Women in Neurosurgery, Ebony Magazine Power 100 List Award Disruptor Category Award Fellow, The Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellowship, Director, California Association of Neurological Surgeons (CANS),  and the Excellence in Academic Medicine Award, National Medical Fellowships (NMF). Dr. Harris has been a great inspiration to many women and POC across the country, being the U.S. second black female neurosurgery professor. She is also the first black female neurosurgeon in the U.S. to be named an endowed professor. She strives to increase diversity, equity and inclusion into the field of neurosciences and overall, into the medical field.


Silvia Vaca, MD

Dr. Silvia Vaca was born in Bogota, Colombia and moved to Atlanta, Georgia when she was 6 years old. Dr. Vaca is a Resident Physician at Stanford University in the department of Neurosurgery, she specializes in increasing access to neurosurgical procedures in disadvantaged and low-resource communities. She completed her undergraduate studies in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Mandarin Chinese at Georgia Tech. Silvia then attended Stanford University School of Medicine, where she was awarded funding for an additional year dedicated to global neurosurgery research in Uganda under the mentorship of Dr. Gerald Grant.   Dr. Vaca Has been recognized for her efforts with a number of awards and honors, including the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Outstanding Senior Award, Stanford Traveling Medical Scholar, Mary Duke Biddle Global Health Scholar, and she was a Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford Social Entrepreneurship Lab Fellow. Outside of neurosurgery, Silvia enjoys traveling, salsa dancing, and spending time with family and friends.


David Purger, MD, PhD

Dr. David Purger was born in the former Yugoslavia and grew up in Washington, DC. He studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, majoring in Brain and Cognitive Sciences and with concentrations in Linguistics and Chinese language. Dr. Purger moved to California to begin medical school in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at the Stanford University School of Medicine. In the lab of Dr. Michelle Monje, Dr. Purger used optogenetic techniques to study the plasticity of white matter in the mammalian brain. Additionally, as a member of the Spine Outcomes Laboratory, Dr. Purger uses statistical programming methods and socioeconomic factors research to answer pressing clinical questions in neurosurgery. Dr. Purger is also active in medical student mentorship, recently co-authoring an updated Medical Student Guide for Applying to Neurosurgery on www.neurosurgicalatlas.com. Outside of neurosurgery, Dr. Purger enjoys traveling, photography, hiking and backpacking, tennis, music, and learning about wine.

Corinna Zygourakis, MD

Dr. Corinna Zygourakis specializes in comprehensive surgical care of the adult spine, and focuses on the treatment of complex spinal disorders, including spinal deformity, revision surgery, and spinal tumors. Dr. Zygourakis employs the latest minimally invasive, motion-sparing, and robotic surgical techniques to achieve the best outcomes for her patients. Her philosophy is to take care of patients with respect and compassion, as she would want her own family treated.

Dr. Zygourakis trained at the Johns Hopkins Hospital for her combined neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery complex spine fellowship, where she performed the first surgery internationally with the Globus Excelsius spinal robot. She completed her residency at the top-ranked neurosurgical program at the University of California, San Francisco, and obtained her M.D. degree cum laude from Harvard Medical School. Committed to serving and advocating for spine patients through her clinical, education, and research efforts, Dr. Zygourakis has published more than forty scientific articles and book chapters on healthcare costs, quality of neurosurgical care, and spine surgery.


Gordon Li, MD

Dr. Gordon Li is a Professor of neurosurgery and of neurology & otolaryngology at Stanford, specializes in head in neck surgery. Dr. Li Practices in the Stanford Neuroscience health center Pediatrics health center. He mainly researches the biology of tumors in the brain, and strives to develop novel therapeutics for the treatment of malignant brain tumors and translating that research into clinical trials. Dr. Li also seeks to improve surgical techniques for brain tumor surgery, immunotherapy for the treatment of glioblastoma, and novel uses for stereotactic radiosurgery. Dr. Li has studied at many notable institutions, including Brown university, UC Davis School of Medicine and Was a resident at Stanford, eventually leading to his role as a professor and MD at Stanford. Along the way Dr. Li has received many honors and awards, including Stanford Cancer Institute Bioscience Screening Award PI, Michael Edwards Resident Teaching Award, Stanford University Department of Neurosurgery, and, Optical imaging to improve surgery and targeted therapy in brain tumors, National institutes of health PI. He has been academically appointed as a member of the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute, the Stanford Cancer Institute, Bio-X and the Maternal & Child Health Research Institute (MCHRI).


Julia Kaltschmidt, PhD

Dr. Julia Kaltschmidt is an Associate Professor in Neurosurgery at Stanford Medical School, specializes in the Spinal Nervous system and molecular basis of neuronal circuit formation. Professor Kaltschmidt looks to identify mechanisms that underlie sensory-motor circuit connectivity in the spinal cord, later shifting her laboratory’s focus to include neuronal circuits that underlie sexual function and gut motility. Professor Kaltschmidt, originally from Germany, received her undergraduate degree from the University of Madison, Wisconsin, going on to complete her PhD at the University of Cambridge in the UK, training as a developmental biologist and studying the cellular mechanisms underlying early Drosophila nervous system development, she later received her postdoc at Columbia University, where she discovered her interest in mechanisms that underlie sensory-motor circuit connectivity. Professor Kaltschmidt has been awarded grants and Honors for her research, including, the Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Young Investigator Award, Gerstner Family Foundation, the Research Grant, Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation, and Early Career Award, Carol and Eugene Ludwig Family Foundation, to name a few. She has been academically appointed as a member of Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute, Maternal & Child Health Research Institute (MCHRI), and Bio-X.