Faculty, UW–Madison
Chair, Department of Neurological Surgery

Robert Dempsey, MD, FACS

  • Neurosurgery
Robert J. Dempsey, MD, FACS


Robert Dempsey, MD, FACS, is a neurosurgeon at UW Health specializing in cranial neurosurgery (brain surgery) for patients who have brain tumors or who were born with defects that cause strokes or pain. His primary interest is treatment for brain tumors and strokes, cerebrovascular neurosurgery (surgery on the brain’s blood vessels) and microvascular decompression (surgery to treat compressed nerves in the brain that cause pain).

Dr. Dempsey is the Manucher Javid professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Department of Neurological Surgery where he also serves as the chair of the department. Dr. Dempsey is an educator and mentor of medical students, residents and fellows worldwide and is an an internationally recognized expert in the field of neurosurgery. He is a three-time recipient of the Clinical Teaching Award given by UW students. He has been a visiting professor at multiple colleges and is a past course codirector of Research Update in Neuroscience for Neurosurgeons.

Dr. Dempsey has served as an officer of major neurosurgical education organizations, both in the U.S. (past president of the Society of Neurological Surgeons) and internationally (chair of the Foundation for International Education in Neurological Surgery). He received the Society of Neurological Surgeons Distinguished Service Award and the National Medical Student Teaching Award. Due to his more than 25 years of service, teaching and operating in developing countries worldwide, he received the Humanitarian Award from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. In 2021, Dr. Dempsey received the Neurosurgical Society of America Medal for national excellence in Neurosurgery. In 2022, he was awarded the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies Medal of Honor, the highest award in the world of neurosurgery.

In his free time, Dr. Dempsey travels worldwide to see patients and hold lectures. He also enjoys photography and hiking with his family.

My hope for all of my patients is that I can help them enjoy their lives and give them a future without pain or fear.

Languages spoken
  • English

Education & credentials

Board certifications
  • Neurological Surgery
Medical School
  • University of Chicago Medical School, Chicago, IL
  • University of Michigan Hospitals, Ann Arbor, MI
  • University of Michigan Hospitals, Ann Arbor, MI

Areas of expertise