Okonkwo Sworn in to UVA Board of Visitors

July 10, 2024

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin swore in David Okonkwo, professor of neurological surgery and director of the Neurotrauma Clinical Trials Center at the University of Pittsburgh, as one of five new appointees to the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia, his alma mater, on July 10.

The board is responsible for the school’s long-term planning, budgets and policies, comparable to the role of trustees at Pitt. The new members are to take their seats in August.

At the University of Virginia, Okonkwo was a Howard Hughes Undergraduate Biomedical Research Scholar. He then completed his medical and doctoral education through the MD/PhD program of the Medical College of Virginia of Virginia Commonwealth University.

He joined the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery in 2006 following completion of a neurosurgical residency at the University of Virginia and a fellowship at Auckland Public Hospital in New Zealand.

Okonkwo’s work focuses on traumatic injuries to the brain and spine, scoliosis and sports medicine. He is a principal investigator of a national clinical research network, TRACK-TBI, to advance the understanding and treatment of traumatic brain injury as well as several ongoing clinical studies in neurotrauma.

He is a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the National and International Neurotrauma Societies. Okonkwo is team neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He recently made news for developing a new blood test that can identify a concussion within 15 minutes—much faster than the previous iteration, which needed to be sent to a lab.

The i-STAT TBI whole blood test, manufactured by the medical device and health care company Abbott, can confirm a concussion or other mild traumatic brain injury within 24 hours of an injury.