Portrait of physician, Dr. Brian Gill

Brian Gill, MD: The Road to Columbia and the Power of Mentorship

February 17, 2023
Photo of Dr. Brian Gill with his family

Dr. Brian Gill (center right) pictured with family members, left to right: Cheryl Gill (mother), Christina Gill (sister), and John Gill (father).

When Brian Gill, MD, first set foot at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC), he was met with a cold, wet and rainy New York City day. Here for his medical school interviews, which fell right in the middle of final exams week, Dr. Gill knew then that Columbia was the place for him.

“It definitely wasn't that [dreary] day that brought me here, it was the people that I met and interacted with,” says Dr. Gill. “The medical students who filtered in and out of there really made an impression on me.”

An alumnus of Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S), Dr. Gill is now faculty in the Department of Neurosurgery at VP&S, as of the fall of 2022, and a member of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia. A physician-scientist, Dr. Gill is focused on providing the safest and most effective care for patients with primary and metastatic brain tumors. His interests lie in novel methods and minimally invasive techniques in the treatment of brain cancer, and exploring personalized, customized therapies for patients.

 A native of Barbados, Dr. Gill spent part of his childhood growing up in England and in the U.S. His father, also a neurosurgeon, and his mother a high school principal, inspired his career in medicine and science.

“They are both great sources of inspiration and guidance and have given me a lot of the principles that I try to live my life by,” says Dr. Gill, who speaks to his father several times a week. “He has shown me the other side of being in medicine. He works hard but family time, going to my sporting events, was also very important.”

Currently Dr. Gill is establishing his lab at Columbia in collaboration with the HICCC’s new Brain Tumor Research program, directed by Robert Wechsler-Reya, PhD. Dr. Gill’s focus is using newer methods of advanced brain mapping during awake brain surgery, not only for exploring what is safest during surgery, but to use many of the same techniques to learn more about how neurons talk to tumor cells. His research aims to understand the neural contributions to tumor progression and how the tumor influences and alters our cognitive functions in a predictable fashion.

Prior to joining Columbia, Dr. Gill did his neurosurgical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and completed his neurosurgical training at NewYork-Presbyterian/CUIMC, where he served as chief resident for the department. As a medical student at VP&S, he was mentored by a number of Columbia faculty and HICCC members who are focused on translational brain tumor research, including Jeffrey Bruce, MD, Peter Canoll, MD, PhD, Guy McKhann MD, Catherine Schevon, MD, PhD, and Peter Sims, PhD. It is important for Dr. Gill to pay that forward.

“I wouldn't be where I am in my career without them, quite frankly, and the time they gave me. I'm working on making sure that I make time for medical students in the same way,” says Dr. Gill.

“I'm interested in fostering close meaningful relationships with mentees and over time really building that out in a responsible manner, so that I can actually reach, mentor, build and grow ideas with them. And, everyone’s opinion and ideas are welcome at the table—I  think that’s critical.”