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Born in Iran and raised in Canada, Dr. Gelareh Zadeh is a Professor at the Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, Head of Neurosurgery at University Health Network (UHN), leads Surgical Oncology at Princess Margaret Cancer Center, is a Senior Scientist at Princess Margaret Cancer Research Institute, and is Co-Director of the Krembil Brain Institute at UHN. But her newest title added to the list was perhaps her most impressive: she was appointed the Dan Family Chair in the Division of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto in August 2020, making her the first woman to helm one of the largest neurosurgical programs in the world and the first to be named neurosurgery chair in Canada. 

Going into neurosurgery 20 years ago, Dr. Zadeh was faced with a lack of women role-models — an issue that’s hardly been solved. Roughly 11 percent of neurosurgeons in Canada are women, and Dr. Zadeh has shared that she’s never operated with a more senior woman neurosurgeon. She’s also faced the expectation that women had to sacrifice having a family in favour of their careers. Now as a mother of two and a successful neurosurgeon, Gelareh is hoping to show women that they can have a family and a very successful, fulfilling career at the same time.