Alexander A. Khalessi was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1977. His academic career began as valedictorian of El Toro High School in Southern California. He then graduated from Stanford University with a BA in Public Policy with Departmental Honors and a Master of Science in Health Services Research. Dr. Khalessi continued his medical education at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He then returned to California where he began his neurosurgical residency training at the University of Southern California. He was deeply fortunate to train under the mentorship of Drs. Martin Weiss and Steve Giannotta.
During this period, Dr. Khalessi completed an enfolded, CAST-certified endovascular neurosurgery fellowship under Drs. Nick Hopkins, Elad Levy, and Adnan Siddiqui in Buffalo, New York. He returned to LA County-USC as clinical instructor and resident supervisor in the Department of Neurosurgery and began an endovascular service for the medically indigent. Dr. Khalessi was recruited by Dr. Bob Carter to the University of California, San Diego in 2011. Charged with developing a destination cerebrovascular service, he led UC San Diego's recognition as the third comprehensive stroke center in the country and ultimate expansion to one of few health systems nationally with two comprehensive stroke centers in both Hillcrest and La Jolla. Under Dr. Carter's guidance, he served as Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs and oversaw a substantial expansion of the clinical service.
In January 2018, following a broad national search, Dr. Khalessi was named Chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery. At age 40, he was among the youngest to be trusted with this responsibility; he remains deeply proud of his brilliant faculty partners and the trajectory of the Department. The Department performed a record 3,400 major cases in 2019 and combined research profile with its sister Department of Neurosciences is perennially #1 or #2 nationally in NIH funding.
Completing the transition to an academic department, Dr. Khalessi is initiating the broader process of organizing as a combined Neurologic Institute. As a Professor of Surgery, Radiology and Neurosciences, Dr. Khalessi directs national and international courses, including the intermediate resident course for the Society of Neurological Surgeons (SNS). Dr. Khalessi served on the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), Residency Review Committee (RRC) for Neurological Surgery, and the editorial board for the Journal of Graduate Medical Education. He was also named as an ACGME working group member for Neurosurgery and Endovascular Surgical Neuroradiology Milestone Projects.
Dr. Khalessi has published over 130 peer reviewed papers and monographs with over 175 abstracts and presentations. He has served as principal or co-investigator of more than 15 clinical trials and grants. The intersection between physiology, engineering, and neurosurgical technique animates his research interest. Translational research interests include the impact of neurovascular devices on endothelial cell biology.
Dr. Khalessi has served on the Executive Committee of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) since 2019 and represents the CNS and American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) to the American College of Radiology. Dr. Khalessi has further served as Scientific Program Chair and Annual Meeting Chair for CNS. Dr. Khalessi is currently on the Joint CNS-AANS Washington Committee and serves on the Board of Governors for the American College of Surgeons. Regionally, he served two terms as president of the San Diego Academy of Neurological Surgery and was voted a San Diego Top Doc for Neurological Surgery. Recently, Dr. Khalessi further continued his post-graduate education by earning a Master of Business Administration from Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management in 2019.
Dr. Khalessi resides in La Jolla, California, with his wife Sara, a lawyer, and their two young sons, Wilder and Pierce.