Alan R. Cohen was born in New York City and raised in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he attended public schools. He graduated Summa cum Laude from Harvard University in 1974, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He obtained his M.D. degree at Cornell Medical College in 1978 and went to the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover, N.H. in 1979 to begin a career in Internal Medicine. The following year he changed gears and moved to New York City for General Surgery at the New York University Medical Center. There he came under the influence of Joseph Ransohoff, Eugene Flamm and Fred Epstein, and went on to complete a Neurosurgical Residency at NYU in 1987. This included a Fellowship in Neurology at the National Hospital, Queen Square, London, England.
Dr. Cohen joined the faculty of the Tufts University School of Medicine in 1988, where he served as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the New England Medical Center/Boston Floating Hospital. In 1994 he moved to Cleveland to join the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine, where he was Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery and Surgeon-in-Chief at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, Professor of Neurological Surgery and Pediatrics at CWRU and held the Robert and William Reinberger Chair in Pediatric Neurological Surgery. He was also the department's Residency Program Director.
In 2011 Dr. Cohen moved to Boston where he served as Neurosurgeon-in-Chief and Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Franc D. Ingraham Professor of Neurological Surgery at Harvard Medical School.
In 2016 Dr. Cohen moved to the Johns Hopkins Hospital where he is currently Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Professor of Neurosurgery and the Carson Spiro Professor of Pediatric Neurosurgery.
He has served as President of the Society of Neurological Surgeons, President of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons, President of the Boston Society of Neurology and Psychiatry, President of the Ohio State Neurosurgical Society, Chairman of the AANS/CNS Joint Section on Pediatric Neurological Surgery and Vice President of the American Academy of Neurological Surgery. He is a Director of the American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery and a Director of the American Board of Neurological Surgery.
His bibliography includes over 175 journal, chapter and book publications, a semi-autobiographical movie entitled Extreme Neurosurgery, a popular song entitled Extreme Neuroanatomy and a rap video entitled Extreme Medulloblastoma. His primary clinical interests are pediatric brain tumors and minimally invasive/endoscopic neurosurgery. He has given over 300 national and international presentations, and served as Visiting Professor at 50 academic centers in the United States and abroad. He was the inaugural United States Editor of the International Journal of Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery and serves on the Editorial Board of Child’s Nervous System.
His research interests have focused on minimally invasive neurosurgery and novel surgical approaches. He has been Director of the annual AANS Practical Course on Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery since 1993.
His awards include Alpha Omega Alpha, the National Achievement Award from the Children’s Miracle Network, Best Doctors in America, America’s Top Doctors, the Scholarship in Teaching Award from the CWRU School of Medicine, and the Golden Stethoscope Award from Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Cohen’s non-medical interests include music and sleight of hand. In 1974 he did an apprenticeship with The Great Slydini in New York City. His wife, Shenandoah Robinson, is a pediatric neurosurgeon and neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins. He has two children, Nathan and Jeremy, each of whom has followed in their father’s footsteps- one as a doctor of medicine and the other as a film-maker.