Henry Ford Health Appoints New Neurosurgery Chair

May 23, 2023
Dr. Ellen Air

DETROIT (May 22, 2023) – After an extensive national search, Ellen L. Air, M.D., Ph.D., an award-winning Henry Ford Health physician, researcher and leader, has been named the system’s new Chair of the Neurosurgery Department, effective May 21, 2023. With her appointment, Dr. Air becomes just the fifth female chair of an academic neurosurgery department in the country’s history and one of three currently serving in this role. 

“Dr. Air’s career-long commitment to collaborative care and her dedication to improving patients’ lives through science and compassion is remarkable,” said Steven Kalkanis, M.D., Henry Ford Health Executive Vice President, CEO of Henry Ford Hospital and CEO of the Henry Ford Medical Group. “As Chair of Neurosurgery, Dr. Air’s sense of innovation and partnership is the perfect fit for a team renowned for its collaborative and groundbreaking work.”

As chair, Dr. Air will create and execute plans to advance the Neurosurgery Department’s clinical and research enterprises, as well as provide executive leadership for Henry Ford’s inpatient and outpatient neurosurgery services. Dr. Air takes over from longtime Henry Ford neurosurgeon Jack P. Rock, M.D., who’s been serving as interim chair since 2020. 

Henry Ford’s Department of Neurosurgery has long been a national leader in the field, offering a broad spectrum of neurological services and providing patients the most advanced, compassionate and coordinated care. The department comprises nationally recognized clinicians and researchers who are always on the cutting edge of the newest technology and treatments. 

“To lead a department of this caliber is the honor of a lifetime,” said Dr. Air. “It is an incredibly exciting time within our organization, full of possibility, and to be at the helm of such a distinguished group of surgeons fills me with great hope and renewed vision. We will continue to innovate, grow our reach and impact, and further secure our position as a global destination for care.”

A member of Henry Ford’s Department of Neurosurgery since 2014, Dr. Air received her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and her M.D./Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.  She completed her neurosurgery residency at University of Cincinnati Hospital Medical Center and her epilepsy, stereotactic and functional neurosurgery fellowship at the University of California San Francisco.

Since 2020, Dr. Air has been the Residency Program Director for the Department of Neurosurgery, and since 2021, she has served as the Neurosurgery Department’s Vice Chair for Operations, as well as the Interim Division Head for Movement Disorders in the Department of Neurology. In addition to her work at Henry Ford, Dr. Air is an Associate Clinical Professor at both Michigan State University and Wayne State University. 

Dr. Air has been repeatedly recognized with honors and awards for her work in medicine and research, and her work has been published dozens of times in peer-reviewed publications and journals. She serves on the Executive Committees of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and North American Neuromodulation Society, and as an Officer for the American Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery. She holds a deep, longstanding commitment to community service, often working with epilepsy and Parkinson’s groups to support and inform. As a ‘functional neurosurgeon’ who helps patients with neurological disorders live productive lives, Dr. Air is dedicated to advocating for her patients, including finding resources to improve their quality of life.

Visit henryford.com/services/neuroscience to learn more about Henry Ford Health’s Neurosurgery services.


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Serving communities across Michigan and beyond, Henry Ford Health is committed to partnering with patients and members along their entire health journey. Henry Ford Health provides a full continuum of services – from primary and preventative care, to complex and specialty care, health insurance, a full suite of home health offerings, virtual care, pharmacy, eye care and other healthcare retail.

It is one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, recognized for clinical excellence in cancer care, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics and sports medicine, and multi-organ transplants. Consistently ranked among the top five NIH-funded institutions in Michigan, Henry Ford Health engages in more than 2,000 research projects annually. Equally committed to educating the next generation of health professionals, Henry Ford Health trains more than 4,000 medical students, residents and fellows every year across 50+ accredited programs.

With more than 33,000 valued team members, Henry Ford Health is also among Michigan’s largest and most diverse employers, including nearly 6,000 physicians and researchers from the Henry Ford Medical Group, Henry Ford Physician Network and Jackson Health Network.

The health system is led by President and CEO Robert G. Riney and serves a growing number of customers across 250+ locations throughout Michigan including five acute care hospitals, two destination facilities for complex cancer and orthopedics and sports medicine care, behavioral health, primary care and urgent care centers.


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