University of Pittsburgh
July 14, 2005

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Professor William C. Welch Named First Recipient of Peter E. Sheptak Chair in Neurological Surgery

Chair honors the University's Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs for the Department of Neurological Surgery
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-William C. Welch-University of Pittsburgh professor of neurological surgery, orthopaedic surgery, and rehabilitation science and technology and director of the Department of Neurological Surgery's Spine Services Division in the Pitt School of Medicine-has been named the inaugural holder of the University's Peter E. Sheptak Chair in Neurological Surgery, named for Pitt alumnus and Clinical Professor of Neurological Surgery Peter E. Sheptak (MED '63), who is the department's vice chair for clinical affairs.

Welch, who joined the Pitt faculty in 1993, is renowned as a specialist in advanced spine surgical techniques-including new methods for spine fusion and artificial disc replacement-and has established at Pitt one of the largest spine programs in the nation.

Sheptak is acknowledged to be one of the major teaching influences in Pitt's Department of Neurological Surgery, having taught there for more than 35 years and assisted in the training of nearly 100 neurosurgical practitioners in the United States and abroad.

The Sheptak Endowed Chair, created through generous gifts from Sheptak's colleagues, patients, friends, and former trainees of the neurological surgery department, was established to honor his contributions to that department. The endowed chair will provide support to Welch as he continues to teach and conduct research in neurological surgery.

"The Peter E. Sheptak Chair in Neurological Surgery honors the career contributions of Dr. Sheptak, a gifted surgeon who has served the University with great distinction as clinical professor of neurological surgery," said Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. "William Welch's elevation to the Sheptak chair constitutes one of the highest honors this University can bestow upon a member of its faculty. Dr. Welch has been a highly regarded leader, here at Pitt and within his discipline, for more than a decade and has established one of the largest and most respected spine programs in the United States. He truly deserves this special form of recognition."

Chancellor Nordenberg appointed Welch to the position upon recommendations from Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences and School of Medicine Dean Arthur S. Levine and Pitt Provost James V. Maher.

"Dr. Welch has distinguished himself through his excellent surgical skills, his clinical care of patients, his teaching and his research activities," said Levine. "He is an excellent choice to hold this chair, which honors Dr. Sheptak, a true pioneer in spine surgery."

Welch, who also is chief of neurosurgery at UPMC Presbyterian, has published 65 papers in refereed journals and 30 book chapters and is coeditor of the books Operative Spine Surgery (Appleton & Lange, 1998) and Non-Fusion Techniques for the Spine: Motion Preservation and Balance (Quality Medical Publishers, 2005). He is a member of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute; the Center for Clinical Neurophysiology; and the medical staffs of UPMC Shadyside and UPMC Horizon, as well as the Oakland Veterans' Administration Medical Center, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, and Westmoreland Regional Hospital.

A Butler, Pa., native, Sheptak specializes in spinal surgery, acoustic tumor surgery, and sports medicine. In addition to pursuing his teaching career at the University, Sheptak also is the former chief of neurosurgery at the Oakland Veteran's Administration Hospital and the St. Francis Medical Health System, and has served as the principal neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Penguins since 1976. Sheptak is known for performing innovative investigative and clinical work related to spinal degenerative disorders, pain management, cerebrovascular disease, and brain tumors.

The Peter E. Sheptak Chair is the fifth chair to be endowed in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery.

For more information on the Sheptak Chair, or to make a contribution to this fund, please call 412-647-0990 or visit