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New Clinician Spotlight: Ryan Merrell

Oct. 20, 2021, 3:14 PM

Ryan Merrell, MD

Neuro-oncologist Ryan Merrell, MD, has joined Vanderbilt University Medical Center as chief of the Division of Neuro-Oncology in the Department of Neurology. He began seeing patients in early August.

“We are very excited to have an experienced leader and program builder in neuro-oncology join us at VUMC. Dr. Merrell will be an excellent partner for our Neurosurgery and Oncology partners as we grow our nationally recognized comprehensive brain tumor program,” said Dane Chetkovich, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Neurology.

Merrell’s clinical interests as a neuro-oncologist include adult brain tumors and neurologic complications of cancer. His research focuses on clinical trial development and translational research for brain tumors, including gliomas, metastatic tumors, meningiomas and primary central nervous system lymphoma.

Merrell has extensive experience as a clinical trialist, with the trials he’s currently running including treatments for newly diagnosed glioblastoma, recurrent glioblastoma, meningiomas and rare central nervous system cancers.

“I became interested in neuro-oncology when my father was diagnosed with glioblastoma while I was in medical school,” Merrell said. “I wanted to make a difference for patients and families who experience these devastating tumors.”

And on joining VUMC: “I was interested in joining an outstanding group of physicians and medical staff here at Vanderbilt, and in coming back to my Southern roots. I feel that there are many promising treatments on the horizon for neuro-oncology patients. I believe that the team here at Vanderbilt will contribute to these advances,” he said.

Merrell received a BS in chemistry in 1997 from the University of Alabama, Huntsville, followed by an MD from Huntsville in 2005. From 2005-2009 he undertook internship and residency in neurology at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, followed by a fellowship in neuro-oncology in Boston at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Merrell served at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Chicago for 11 years. During that time, he was director of neuro-oncology for nine years and ran numerous clinical trials for patients with brain tumors.

Merrell is a member of several medical societies and has authored and co-authored a range of peer-reviewed publications — case studies, literature reviews, articles on diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors, studies of cancer genetics, drug trial reports.

Patients can schedule appointments with Dr. Merrell by calling Vanderbilt Neurology, at 615-936-0660.

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