Peter Warnke, MD

UChicago Faculty Physicians

Peter Warnke, MD

Professor of Neurological Surgery
Professor of Neurology
Professor of Neuroscience Institute Director, Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery

[MUSIC PLAYING] Hi. I'm Peter Warnke. I'm a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Chicago and director of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery. I have special interest in brain tumors, movement disorders like Parkinson's disease and epilepsy surgery, and being also a pediatric neurosurgeon, I do perform these procedures in adults and children.

I actually always was attracted to biology and sciences, particularly biophysics. And in particular, the neurosciences are applied biophysics. And I always thought this would be a wonderful extension to use this and help patients, particularly with neurological and central nervous system disorders.

I've been in multiple institutions before, both in Europe and the United States. And last one was Harvard. The University of Chicago is where I started out coming to the US in the late '80s because it has a unique flavor to it. Besides the classic tradition of freedom of expression, it is always and has always been a place where you could pursue unconventional ideas and that made it very attractive here.

I perform a lot of what's called stereotactic and functional procedures, implantation of deep electrodes into the brain to modulate brain function. I perform a lot of deep-seated brain tumor surgery, also with the help of intraoperative imaging, physiology, and actually was also called functional imaging, so where we actually look at brain function, plan the surgery around this. And I'm doing a lot of epilepsy surgery, which again involves not treating something on the image, involves the physiology, basically the epileptic area that we identify with electrodes before we proceed with surgery.

We've developed two things here. That one thing is minimally invasive epilepsy surgery. We have started with interstitial stereotactic laser procedures. Here now have, by far, the largest experience in the city of Chicago.

And we are now developing this together with more robotic approaches. The whole objective is to minimize the procedure whilst maximizing the efficacy. And the secondary objective always is to minimize the side effects of any procedure.


Internationally renowned neurosurgeon Peter Warnke, MD, has performed more than 7,000 stereotactic surgeries and more than 3,000 brain tumor surgeries. Dr. Warnke provides neurosurgical care for the treatment of:

He routinely performs neurosurgical procedures with proven expertise, including:

Dr. Warnke is one of the few neurosurgeons fellowship-trained in pediatric neurosurgery, brain tumor surgery (neurooncology), and movement and epilepsy surgery. He has treated one of the largest series of low grade gliomas in adults and children (more than 1,000) and intrinsic other brain tumors.

In 2021, Dr. Warnke became the first neurosurgeon in Illinois — and only second worldwide — to perform laser hemispherectomy for the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy in a child. This highly innovative surgical technique carries significantly lower risk of complications compared to the traditional open hemispherectomy procedure (Operative Neurosurgery, 2023).

Dr. Warnke directs the pediatric and adult epilepsy surgery program within the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center and the MRI-Guided Laser Ablation Program for epilepsy and tumors, with more than 400 laser surgeries performed at UChicago Medicine already.

Dr. Warnke has a large epilepsy surgery practice and performs open resections, laser ablations and neurostimulation for epilepsy in children and adults. This entails routinely robotic implantations of Stereo-EEG electrodes with image guidance and an intraoperative CT.

He directs the SLATE , NAUTILUS and RESPONSE trial in epilepsy surgery, investigating laser ablation and closed loop brain stimulation as a new minimally invasive alternative to open surgery. Also, new biological treatments for epilepsy are explored using cell transplants to silence epileptic areas (Neurona Trial).

In addition, Dr. Warnke has a large deep brain stimulation practice for Parkinson’s, essential tremor and dystonia, and was the first neurosurgeon in Chicago to use directional deep brain stimulation.

Dr. Warnke performs psychiatric neurosurgery, in collaboration with the ACID research group in the Department of Psychiatry, predominantly for obsessive compulsive disorder. He has the largest series of anterior capsulotomies performed by an interstitial laser technique (Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 2022)

He has special expertise in stereotactic radiosurgery, including interstitial radiosurgery and stereotactically guided endoscopy which has been combined with image guidance and stereotactic targeting to reduce side effects and increase precision (World Neurosurgery 2020). He also provides care for patients with pain syndromes, including trigeminal neuralgia and neuropathic pain.

He researches the development of biological and minimally invasive treatments for epilepsy, movement disorders and brain tumors using functional imaging and fiber tracking to target deep seated, complex tumors.

Dr. Warnke’s research focuses on Brain-Computer Interface for the motor and sensory cortex and mechanisms of memory formation and is funded collaboratively by 4 NIH grants including the Brain Initiative (Proc Natl. Acad Sci, 2022).

He studies the effect of laser energy on tumor permeability, blood flow and extracellular space in brain tumors and the effect of nuclear export proteins and their inhibition on recurrent malignant gliomas.

Dr. Warnke is the associate editor of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, which has the highest impact factor among neurosurgical journals (Impact Factor 13.65).

Memberships & Medical Societies

  • American Epilepsy Society
  • European Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery
  • World Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery
  • International Stereotactic Radiosurgery Society
  • American Association of Neurological Surgeons
  • Congress of Neurological Surgeons

Practicing Since

  • 1991

Languages Spoken

  • English
  • German
  • French
  • Italian

Medical Education

  • University of Freiburg


  • Nordstadt Hospital


  • Saarland University Hospital; University of Freiburg Hospital


  • Evanston Hospital

News & Research

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Movement Disorders, Parkinson's, Deep Brain Stimulation: Expert Q&A

Our experts at UChicago Medicine offer deep brain stimulation to treat patients who have movement disorders. DBS involves placing small electrodes into the brain. Dr. Tao Xie and neurosurgeon Dr. Peter Warnke join us to discuss the diagnosis and management of Parkinson's disease and DBS as a treatment option.

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