Frontiers in Medicine
Stanford Medicine's signature event, Frontiers in Medicine hosted nearly 320 guests at the Bing Concert Hall on Wednesday night. The topic this year – the powerful healing potential of our own bodies. Some of Stanford Medicine's top scientists shared how they are harnessing this incredible potential- utilizing disease-fighting stem cells, the immune system, and the microbiome. Among the expert speakers:
- Crystal Mackall, MD, professor of pediatrics and medicine who recently joined Stanford from the NIH. Dr. Mackall has been in the news quite frequently after being appointed Director of the Parker institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Stanford, a historic cancer fighting collaboration of six of America's leading academic medical centers featured recently on Dateline NBC.
- Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology and author of the highly acclaimed book "The Good Gut" who has recently had his work featured in the New York Times and published a piece for the LA Times on the protective, regulating power of the microbiome.
- Gary Steinberg, MD, PhD chair of neurosurgery, founder and co-director of the Stanford Stroke Center whose success in pioneering clinical trials in stem cell therapy for stroke patients has received a great deal of recent international media attention.
Featured musical entertainment by Malcolm Campbell, notable professional jazz musician, composer and Stanford neuroscience PHD candidate. Having performed at world-class venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Montreux Jazz Festival and others, Malcolm provided a special evening show for guests celebrating the intrinsic connection between medicine and the arts.
Why I Went Into Medicine
A peak into my career journey, and how I started out studying psychiatry but ended up a cerebrovascular neurosurgeon.
Spring at Stanford Neurosurgery
This spring at Stanford Neurosurgery is a time to celebrate. We are celebrating our new Neuroscience Health Center, new faculty and staff, patient success stories, and new hope with precision health. We are growing the department with robust new programs and thoughtful team building. It is our ultimate goal to better the lives of our patients and families by committing to ground-breaking research, personalized patient journeys, and collaborating with the brightest minds. As the Chairman, I couldn’t be more proud of our team’s achievements and consistent dedication to advancing the field of neurosurgery.
21 Neuroscience Sub-Specialties, 1 World Class Center
A longtime vision, our outpatient Stanford Neuroscience Health Center is now open. This first-of-its-kind center puts our patients first. The one stop shop limits the amount of travel for patients and families by centralizing facilities and bringing together world-class specialists in neurology, neurosurgery, interventional neuroradiology.
We offer the most advanced treatments, next-generation diagnostic and imaging technologies, affiliated programs and resources, and access to clinical trials, all within the comfort and convenience of a single location.
The opening demonstrates our commitment to breaking down boundaries and silos to provide preventive, personalized, and patient-centered care. A big thank you to our Patient and Family Advisory board as they were instrumental in every step of our process.
As we continue to expand our department, we are focusing on selecting the best of the best. Our team of clinicians, researchers, staff, and students all contribute to our success. We pride ourselves on being productive, progressive, and family oriented.
A Special Welcome to...
Ann joins our team as my Executive Assistant. This is no easy undertaking so we welcome Ann with open arms. Prior to coming to Stanford, Ann was the Co-Owner & Vice President of Casera, the San Francisco Bay Area’s premiere leader in residential luxury estate and property management service company.
Dr. Thomas Südhof
Dr. Südhof is the Avram Goldstein Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at the School of Medicine and the recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research exploring how neurons in the brain communicate with one another across gaps called synapses. We are honored to welcome Dr. Südhof with a joint appointment in our department. Dr. Südhof’s laboratory studies how synapses form in the brain, how their properties are specified, and how they accomplish the rapid and precise signaling that forms the basis for all information processing by the brain.
A Patient Spotlight
One year ago Penny suffered an intracranial hemorrhage from a complex brain aneurysm and was in critical condition. After undergoing microsurgical repair of the aneurysm and 12 months of intensive therapy, Penny has recovered completely and has returned to the same intellectually sharp, physically active and enthusiastic Penny that her friends and family have always loved. Her recovery has been described as a true miracle, and a testament to her courage, perseverance and desire to embrace life to the fullest.
Words from Penny
"I feel extremely grateful that although my event was not something I would choose, I was placed in one of the best hospitals in the country! The nurses and the care I received in ICU and beyond, was outstanding. The only hard thing as a patient is finding all of them so you can really thank them and let them know they made a difference in your life. Being sick, you feel so helpless and having kindness and care provides an inner security that only the patient can feel. And believe me, it makes a huge difference. I am very grateful to Dr. Steinberg and his team and the Neuroscience brilliance at Stanford!"
Personalized Medicine with Precision Health
With precision medicine we are crafting innovative approaches that take into account individual differences in patient’s genes, environments, and lifestyles. Stanford Neurosurgery is dedicated to prioritizing precision medicine efforts in the lab and in the clinic. Advances in this personalized approach have already led to powerful new discoveries and several new treatments that are tailored to specific characteristics, such as a person’s genetic makeup, or the genetic profile of an individual’s tumor. This is helping transform the way we can treat many neurosurgical disorders, including brain tumors and cerebrovascular disease.
Stanford’s Department of Neurosurgery is playing a prominent role in the Precision Health revolution. We are deeply engaged in studying Predictive, Preventive, and Longitudinal Care; Population Health Sciences; and Healthcare Value Science.
Division of Outcome Measures and Evidence Based Neurosurgery
Our Division of Outcome Measures, including Dr. John Ratliff the Department’s Vice Chair for Operations and Development and Dr. Summer Han, our Department’s expert faculty Biostatistician are leading the country in emphasizing Evidence Based Neurosurgery to rigorously demonstrate the benefit of our surgical therapies. With healthcare shifting from process driven quality metrics to outcome driven metrics, the Neuro-Spine service line has developed a quality of life (QOL) dashboard to capture patient reported functional outcomes, as well as pre-operative risk factor stratification and specific treatment modalities. This dashboard is the first of its kind nationally, to capture patient quality of life (QOL) metrics into an electronic health record, and is setting a new standard. Other important outcome studies focus on Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury.
Lloyd Minor, MD, Dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine presents on “How Stanford is Leading the Biomedical Revolution in Precision Health.”
2016 American Association of Neurological Surgeons Meeting
The 84th AANS Annual Scientific Meeting takes place April 30-May 4, 2016, at McCormick Place West in Chicago, and will include the presentation of scientific data in general and subspecialty section sessions as oral presentations, in addition to electronic posters available on the 2016 AANS Meeting App.
The theme for the 2016 American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) Annual Scientific Meeting is “Neurosurgery Leading the Way.” In addition to highlighting the latest in neurosurgical science and practice, this meeting, will explore the concept of neurosurgeons as leaders not only in the operating room, but also in the classroom, the battlefield, the lab, and the athletic field.
Stanford Neurosurgery will have a prominent presence at this international event. Our faculty and students will be presenting on current research and clinical trends.
For live meeting updates, follow us on Twitter @TopNeuroDocs.
May is International Moyamoya Month
One of our department’s specialties is the treatment of moyamoya disease. During the month of May, patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers, come together to celebrate and raise awareness for this rare disease. We love our moyamoya patients and families. May 6 is International Moyamoya Day.
Join the celebration. Learn about our events on our Facebook page.
What is Moyamoya disease?
Moyamoya disease is a rare, progressive cerebrovascular disorder caused by blocked arteries at the base of the brain in an area called the Circle of Willis. The name “moyamoya” means “puff of smoke” in Japanese and describes the look of the tangle of tiny vessels formed to compensate for the blockage.
New Beginnings and a New Year
Welcome to the Chairman’s Corner. This is a space where I will connect you with our Stanford Neurosurgery family. Our team is engaging in research leading to new biomedical discoveries, providing comprehensive training to prepare the next generation of translational scientists and doctors, offering exceptional clinical care to patients, and sustaining a culture of service excellence for our families and communities.
Take a look around the new website and enjoy!
A Time to Celebrate
Every year we host a celebration following graduation. It’s always nice to see relationships that transcend the lab and operating room. I believe the closeness of our department is a direct reflection of our shared commitment, discipline, and ambition.
We are thrilled to announce several new additions to our robust faculty lineup. Welcome to the Stanford Neurosurgery family.
Celebrating our Residents and Fellows
I would like to once again acknowledge and congratulate our resident and fellow graduates:
Allyson Alexander, MD, PhD, Chief Resident in Neurological Surgery;
Omar Aftab Choudhri, MD, Chief Resident in Neurological Surgery;
James Barrese, MD, Clinical Instructor, Functional Neurosurgery;
Navjot Chaudhary, MD, Clinical Instructor, Veteran’s Affairs/Spine;
Myreille D’Astous, MD, Clinical Instructor, Cyberknife;
Jeremiah Johnson, MD, Clinical Instructor, Cerebrovascular;
Robert Lober, MD, PhD, Clinical Instructor, Pediatric Neurosurgery;
Francisco Vaz Guimaraes Filho, MD, Clinical Instructor, Pituitary;
Anand Veeravagu, MD, Chief Resident in Neurological Surgery;
Jonathan Wallach, MD, Fellow Radiation Oncology;
Albert Wong, MD, Clinical Instructor, Spine
You will be missed!
Stay tuned for all things neurosurgery and a behind-the-scenes look at our department. Our team is at the forefront of emerging research that has the potential to have a major impact on human health and well-being.
Brain Injury Awareness
It wasn’t lost on me when I heard that Dwight Clark, the famed former 49ers’ wide receiver, announced publicly that he had ALS, that the announcement also took place during Brain Injury Awareness Month. Hearing about an ALS diagnosis is deeply saddening, it is a devastating disease, but it did not surprise me to hear that Clark himself acknowledged the development of the disease was most likely linked to his years playing Football. In 1999, after several concussions sent then 49ers star quarterback, Steve Young, to my office for a series of neurological exams, my recommendation that Young retire from football to save his brain health was considered quite controversial.
At the time, many were reluctant to acknowledge the strong connections between head trauma acquired during sport and the development of brain disease. Today, the NFL publicly recognizes that head trauma is much more serious than previously believed, and the public is far more educated about the risks associated with concussions. Despite the progress made, there is still much we need to learn about concussions and brain injury. This is an area of research not only football players should be concerned with; nearly 2 million people suffer a brain injury in the United States every year, most of which are caused by auto and motorcycle accidents, falls, and violent assaults.
The effects of brain injury can be overwhelming; disability, increased aggression, anxiety and depression, or loss of memory or functionality are all common. Many of these symptoms can linger for months, and sometimes years after injury. At Stanford, we have focused our efforts on research that will help us better understand everything from mild concussion to severe injury, to more quickly identify symptoms and improve outcomes.
At our Concussion and Brain Performance Center, our physicians and surgeons including Jam Ghajar, MD, PhD and Gerry Grant, MD are developing a much-needed new brain trauma classification system that will help standardize definitions of concussions, and aid in developing more effective diagnosis and treatment. At the VAPAHS, Stanford neurosurgeons such as Odette Harris, MD, MPH are working with veterans to advance our understanding of how neurosurgical intervention after brain injury can help repair damage and restore function. In addition, our doctors have studied how traumatic brain injury (TBI) specifically affects women. There has been a notable research gap, with much of the studies on TBI focused on men. Having already identified significant ways these types of “invisible injuries” affect men and women’s brains differently, we tailored treatment and policy recommendations specifically for women veterans.
We are currently studying the process of neurogenesis, in hopes we might one day manipulate the process, and repair damage to the brain once thought irreparable. Additionally, we are testing the safety and efficacy of stem cell therapy in increasing mobility for people rendered disabled from traumatic brain injury. Soon, we will be evaluating the use of deep brain stimulation as a potential treatment for TBI.
Those of us who have been studying the neurosciences for decades have been aware of the many connections that exist between head trauma and its long-term implications to brain health. I applaud sports organizations for publicly recognizing the seriousness of concussions, and players themselves talking about the sport and its connection to their brain health, or in some cases donating their brain to scientific investigation. I am encouraged by the military’s commitment to investment into neuroscience research and development of diagnostics and novel therapies. I am hopeful when I see public awareness growing, with the creation of Brain Injury Awareness Month or individuals raising funds for additional research. Football has positive aspects related to participation in a team sport and isn’t going away any time soon, and we certainly can’t eliminate accidents, but the efforts to focus on better understanding and treating brain injury will lead to improved therapeutic options for all of us; athletes, veterans, you and me.
Most people rarely consider the impact of disease or injury until they face the unfortunate circumstance of having to seek treatment for themselves or a loved one. By the time someone finds themselves in this predicament, they are hopeful that research and experimentation were long-ago completed, and therapies have been technically perfected and proven effective. The reality is that the journey from basic science research in the lab to its translation into clinical application, can be a long and drawn out process.
Luckily, we scientist-clinicians are aware that the long-awaited discovery we seek will take time and effort, and are motivated by the process. We’ve spent much of our life learning basic science, dedicating years to research, and testing potentially-life saving therapies in clinical trials; all so that one day, when a patient walks into our office seeking that perfected treatment, we’re able to offer it. That laboratory-clinic connection is the foundation to everything we do, and we are keenly aware of the need to focus much of our energies on that less recognized part of our field – the years in the research lab.
Those years spent in the lab can be difficult. Aside from the fact that most research scientists don’t receive the public recognition they probably deserve, finding therapies and cures can take decades, and can sometimes remain elusive beyond a lifetime. As research scientists, we must also learn one of life’s greatest lessons early – repeated failure is necessary, it allows us to learn and grow, and improve. Toiling in the lab is not without some obvious upsides. Discoveries in the lab, when translated to clinical application, can give someone a second chance at life, or at a minimum, teach us something new about the way our body functions that we didn’t know before.
I feel quite fortunate to be in a place where so many people deeply understand the importance of research, and have been extremely proud when those efforts are rewarded with the discovery of new diagnosis and therapy options.
In a very short time, our labs at Stanford alone have made discoveries that will change the way injury and disease are treated in the future. From testing the effects of hypothermia on protecting the brain from damage caused by stroke, to inventing the CyberKnife radiosurgery system for treating brain tumors and other neurologic disorders, to using stem cell transplantation to restore function after neurologic injury, it is incredibly exciting and fulfilling to see how far we have come in just a matter of decades. We are testing the efficacy of using new brain-computer interface technology to allow paralyzed people to communicate, and have successfully shown how using awake brain mapping techniques helps to retain language skills during tumor resection. We study the impacts of genetic changes on conditions like autism so that we can one day prevent its occurrence, and have proven the efficacy of using MRI-guided ultrasound to reduce the severity of chronic tremors. We support over 30 active labs investigating everything from brain injury, degenerative spinal conditions, and deep brain stimulation, to the retina’s role in vision loss, epilepsy, brain tumors, and the effects of stress and aging on the nervous system. My own lab focuses on investigating the pathophysiology and treatment of acute stroke, as well as methods to restore function after chronic stroke. The work my colleagues achieve in our labs fills me with hope for the future.
While most people tend to consider just the outcome, we scientists are always considering the journey – what basic science understanding are we still lacking that may help us on the road to discovery; what questions must be answered to find better, less invasive modes of diagnosis; and what steps must we still take to find new therapies and cures? The journey can be long and arduous, but in many cases, that journey is what got us hooked on science, and what ultimately allows us to find answers that heal.
Reflection And Gratitude As We Move Into The New Year
As we usher in the New Year, I have spent the last few weeks also reflecting on all of the incredible accomplishments and lessons we learned in 2016.
Our tireless commitment to improve care and outcomes for our patients continued to drive innovation in 2016. We were proud to announce the pioneering of new techniques in stem cell transplantation, innovative treatments for spinal cord injuries, the use of technology to create new means for brain-computer communication, technology that makes brain surgery more safe, and improving our understanding of causes and potential cures for Parkinson's disease.
I was also reminded of the amazing people we serve-patients who despite immense health challenges, fight not only for their own healing and regained strength, but for others like them. For example, 12-year-old Kendall Kemm, who after successful Cyberknife treatment at Stanford for a hemorrhagic stroke caused by a rare defect called AVM, decided to form Kendall's Crusade-a nonprofit aimed to provide financial assistance to families affected by AVM, raise overall awareness of the condition, and support neurosurgery research.
I am also incredibly proud of the many talented and compassionate physicians on our team, whose work continues to make us a world leader. In fact, I'd like to give a special recognition to our own Dr. Laurence Katznelson, Professor of Neurosurgery and Endocrinology. Helping us kick off the New Year right, Dr. Katznelson was selected by the Endocrine Society for their 2017 Outstanding Educator Award which recognizes exceptional achievement as an educator in the discipline of endocrinology and metabolism. Congratulations, Dr. Katznelson!
I was especially excited to share the news this past Fall, of the opening of the Stanford Neurosciences Health Center, a one-of-its-kind outpatient facility that brings together 21 neuroscience sub-specialties all under one roof. The new Center offers patients a unique experience, providing the convenience of one location for all of their diagnostic and treatment needs.
Finally, I was also humbled and thankful to be honored this past year with the prestigious J.E. Wallace Sterling Lifetime Achievement Award in Medicine from the Stanford Medicine Alumni Association. I have dedicated my life's work to advancing science and medicine in Neurosurgery, and was very touched by this recognition.
I continue to be inspired by the community of people I work with every day; our brave patients, committed and passionate surgeons, caring and experienced nurses, innovative researchers, dedicated donors, and visionary students. As we continue together to seek new ways to translate discoveries in our labs into new therapies for our patients, I’d like to wish all of you a happy and healthy New Year, filled with many new achievements in 2017.