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Staff Clinician

John D. Heiss, M.D.

Surgical Neurology Branch

Chair, Surgical Neurology Branch
Residency Training Program Director

Building 10 Room 3D-20
Center Drive MSC1414
Bethesda MD 20814
Office: (301) 496-2921

Fax: (301) 402-0380
heissj@ninds.nih.gov

John D. Heiss, M.D. is the Chair of the Surgical Neurology Branch and Program Director of the Neurological Surgery Residency Training Program in the NINDS. Dr. Heiss received both his B.S. in Biomedical Sciences and M.D. degree from the University of Michigan. He completed his surgical internship and his residency in neurosurgery at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Prior to joining NINDS, Dr. Heiss was co-director of the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit at the University of Cincinnati and a neurosurgeon in the Mayfield Neurological Institute. He completed a fellowship in neurosurgery research in the Surgical Neurology Branch before joining the senior staff of the Surgical Neurology Branch.

Dr. Heiss is board certified in neurological surgery and is expert in the supervision and conduct of clinical trials for CNS disorders. He is Vice-Chair of the Combined Neurosciences Institutional Review Board at the NIH and has served on numerous grant review panels.

Education & Training:

  • Residency, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Neurosurgery, 1981 – 1987
  • Surgical Intern, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, 1980 – 1981
  • M.D., University of Michigan, 1976-1980
  • B.S., University of Michigan, Biomedical Sciences, 1974-1977



Dr. Heiss is actively involved in clinical and translational research to improve the treatment of degenerative brain diseases, brain tumors, cancer pain, Chiari I malformation, and syringomyelia.

Dr. Heiss has clinical interest and expertise in the treatment of patients with Chiari I malformation, syringomyelia, peripheral nerve tumors, and brain tumors. His research interests include intracerebral drug delivery, gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease, treatment of severe, unremitting cancer pain with resiniferatoxin (RTX), and the natural history and surgical outcome of patients with Chiari I malformation and syringomyelia.

Clinical Interests:

  • Chiari I malformation
  • Syringomyelia
  • Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2)-associated peripheral nerve tumors
  • Brain tumor treatment using functional mapping and intraoperative MRI
  • Gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease
  • Intrathecal injection of resiniferatoxin (RTX) for intractable cancer pain

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  • 1) Musolf AM, Ho WSC, Long KA, Zhuang Z, Argersinger DP, Sun H, Moiz BA, Simpson CL, Mendelevich EG, Bogdanov EI, Bailey-Wilson JE, Heiss JD (2019)
  • Small posterior fossa in Chiari I malformation affected families is significantly linked to 1q43-44 and 12q23-24.11 using whole exome sequencing
  • Eur J Hum Genet, 2019 Jun 21. doi: 10.1038/s41431-019-0457-7, Epub ahead of print] PMID:31227808
  • 2) Heiss JD, Lungu C, Hammoud DA, Herscovitch P, Ehrlich DJ, Argersinger DP, Sinharay S, Scott G, Wu T, Federoff HJ, Zaghloul KA, Hallett M, Lonser RR, Bankiewicz KS (2019)
  • Trial of magnetic resonance-guided putaminal gene therapy for advanced Parkinson’s disease
  • Mov Disord , 2019 May 30. doi:10.1002/mds.27724, [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 31145831
  • 3) Heiss JD, Jamshidi A, Shah S, Martin S, Wolters PL, Argersinger DP, Warren KE, Lonser RR (2018)
  • Phase I Trial of Convection Enhanced Delivery of IL13-Pseudomonas Toxin in Children with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma
  • J Neurosurg Pediatr, 2018 Dec 1:1-10, doi: 10.3171/2018.9.PEDS17225. [Epub ahead of prin
  • 4) Heiss JD, Walbridge S, Argersinger DP, Hong CS, Ray-Chaudhury A, Lonser RR, Elias WJ, Zaghloul K (2018)
  • Convection-enhanced delivery of muscimol into the bilateral subthalamic nuclei of non-human primates
  • Neurosurgery, 2018 Jun 21, Doi: 10/1093/neuros/nyy279. [Epub ahead of print];
  • 5) Heiss JD, Jarvis K, Smith RK, Eskioglu E, Gierthmuehlen M, Patronas NJ, Butman JA, Argersinger DP, Lonser RR, Oldfield EH (2018)
  • Origin of syrinx fluid in syringomyelia: a physiological study
  • Neurosurgery, 2018 Mar 30, Doi: 10.1093/neuros/nyy072 [Epub ahead of print];
  • 6) Dimitrov L, Hong CS, Yang C, Zhuang Z, Heiss JD (2015)
  • New developments in the pathogenesis and therapeutic targeting of the IDH1 mutation in glioma
  • Int J Med Sci , Jan 20; 12(3), 201-213
  • 7) Heiss JD, Suffredini G, Bakhtian KD, Sarntinoranont M, Oldfield EH (2012)
  • Normalization of hindbrain morphology after decompression of Chiari malformation Type 1
  • J Neurosurg , 117(5), 942-6
  • 8) Heiss JD, Snyder K, Peterson M, Patronas NJ, Butman JA, Smith RK, DeVroom HL, Sansur CA, Eskioglu E, Kammerer WA, Oldfield EH (2012)
  • Pathophysiology of primary spinal syringomyelia
  • J Neurosurg Spine , 17(5), 367-80
  • 9) Heiss JD, Suffredini G, Smith R, DeVroom HL, Patronas N, Butman J, Thomas F, Oldfield EH (2010)
  • Pathophysiology of persistent syringomyelia after decompressive craniocervical surgery
  • J Neurosurg Spine, 13:729, 742
  • 10) Heiss JD, Patronas N, DeVroom HL, Shawker T, Ennis R, Kammerer W, Eidsath A, Talbot T, Morris J, Eskioglu E, Oldfield EH (1999)
  • Elucidating the pathophysiology of syringomyelia
  • J Neurosurg , 91(4), 553-562
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