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Question and Answer with Dr. Ali

Zarina S. Ali, MD, is an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Penn Medicine and sees patients at Pennsylvania Hospital. Dr. Ali treats all nervous system conditions, including spinal, cranial and extremity nerve disease. Her expertise includes the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, brachial plexus injuries, spinal disc herniations, and brain tumors, among other neurosurgical conditions.

Zarina Ali

What conditions will you treat at Pennsylvania Hospital?

As a neurosurgeon, I treat all structural disorders of the brain, spine and nerves. This includes the treatment of tumors, trauma, and degenerative changes of all nervous system structures. I also perform Gamma Knife Radiosurgery.

What is the most exciting thing about being a part of the Penn neurosurgery team?

The Penn neurosurgery teams values comprehensive patient care. This means that patients are our top priority and we work towards improving clinical outcomes, always. It is exciting to work with a team of leaders in neurosurgery who strive to better understand neurosurgical diseases and develop innovative treatments.

What is your philosophy on patient care?

I want patients to understand that regaining their health is my top priority. I believe patients and families require a physician who listens and understands their problems and then works to achieve the best possible outcome, without exception.

What kinds of research will you be involved with at Penn?

My research interest is in understanding nerve injuries and developing innovative repair techniques. I hope to use these strategies to improve the lives of patients with debilitating nerve injuries in order to optimize their quality of life.

What do you enjoy doing outside of practicing medicine?

Outside of medicine, I enjoy spending time with my husband and three young sons, as well as with family and friends. I also enjoy traveling and cooking.

Since opening in 1751, this is the first time that Pennsylvania Hospital has a female neurosurgeon. What does that mean?

It is truly humbling. I have been trained and mentored by several talented and important leaders in neurosurgery, who happen to be male. While this has never impeded my desires to pursue a career in neurosurgery, I recognize that gender diversity in our field is lacking. I am happy to now be in a position to serve as a mentor to bright and ambitious young men AND women who aspire to be neurosurgeons, and more importantly, good doctors. I’ve always said that some of the best lessons I’ve learned on the art of doctoring come from motherhood! All three of my sons were also born at Pennsylvania Hospital, so this hospital setting is near and dear to me and I am proud to serve as its first female neurosurgeon.

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