Neurosurgeons Supporting Neurosurgical Education: Meet the NREF
Members of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) established the Neurosurgery Research and Education Foundation (NREF) in 1980 to support research and education efforts for neurosurgeons at all stages of their careers. Since its inception, the specialty of neurosurgery has been supported by mentorship. All seasoned, successful neurosurgeons can point back to the mentors who helped them achieve their career goals, and many of those neurosurgeons pay it forward by working with medical students. The story of the foundation’s impact is exemplified by G. Edward Vates, MD, PhD, FAANS, who received funding as a young investigator, and now works in the department of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center as an associate professor — where he points his students to NREF resources — who have contributed to ground-breaking research. Meet some of Dr. Vates’ students here, and learn more about their stories, the role mentorship has played in their careers and Dr. Vates’ thoughts on being both mentor and mentee.
The First Specialty Specific Data Registry Measures Approved for Neurosurgery
The National Neurosurgery Quality Outcomes Database (N2QOD) is now an approved Qualified Clinical Data Registry (QCDR) in the CMS Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) for the 2015 program year. “Securing QCDR status for N2QOD is a tremendously important accomplishment for our specialty,” said Anthony L. Asher, MD, FAANS, N2QOD director and vice-chair of NeuroPoint Alliance (NPA). “Analyses of data collected through the N2QOD have already helped demonstrate the effectiveness of neurosurgical care and identify important care improvement opportunities. With the added incentive of using our registry to fulfill PQRS requirements, the volume of collected data should grow exponentially, thereby increasing the quality of improvement and research value of the registry,” Dr. Asher added. To read more about N2QOD’s clinical registry focused on spine and neurosurgical outcomes, click here.
Brain Tumor’s Genetic Profile Critical in Treatment, Research Finds
According to two reports published in June in The New England Journal of Medicine — one coordinated by the National Institutes of Health, the other led by Mayo Clinic and the University of California, San Francisco — doctors can more effectively treat many types of brain tumors by first ascertaining their genetic characteristics, rather than studying tissue samples under a microscope. The findings could alter diagnosis and treatment decisions for the 23,000 Americans who develop brain tumors each year, and marks an important advance in the growing trend of precision medicine. “Prognosis is going to be more accurately delineated by these kinds of genetic subtypes, outstripping the value of looking through a microscope,” said David J. Langer, MD, FAANS, chief of neurosurgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, who was not involved in the research. During the studies, the research teams performed multiple genetic analyses on 1,380 tumors, finding that the tumors could be grouped into a few categories, which were determined by looking at a handful of genetic glitches. To read more about these studies, click here.
August is Neurosurgery Awareness Month
Every year, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) celebrates Neurosurgery Awareness during the month of August. Be sure to explore the variety of materials the AANS has to offer in conjunction with this year’s theme — which focuses on who neurosurgeons are “behind the mask” — but also on the patient perspective, the history of the neurosurgical specialty and neurosurgical mentoring. To find out more about the 2015 Neurosurgery Awareness Month, click here, or visit us on Facebook and Twitter.
Registration Now Open for AANS Members
Registration for the 84th AANS Annual Scientific Meeting is now open online for AANS members. The 2016 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting takes place April 30-May 4, 2016, at McCormick Place West in Chicago, with the theme, Neurosurgery Leading the Way. Visit www.aans.org/AANS2016 to learn more. Then, register to join your colleagues in Chicago next spring. Meeting registration opens to everyone on Aug. 19, 2015.
2015 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting Online Recordings: Free for Meeting Attendees
If you were a registered medical attendee of the 2015 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting in Washington, D.C., your registration includes free online access to the full compilation of recorded meeting content, such as on-demand access to more than 250 presentations from the meeting. The AANS records presentations from the Plenary Sessions, Scientific Sessions, Section Sessions, International Symposium and the Young Neurosurgeon’s Research Forum. Login with your MyAANS username and password to access the presentations here.
Wishes Come True: Emile Greer, Neurosurgical Patient Story
In December 2005, Emile Greer, then 12 years old, was diagnosed with a glial neuronal tumor the size of a large plum. In 2007, two years after having resection surgery at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, his tumor grew back. During this time, the Make-A-Wish Foundation offered Greer an opportunity to “make a wish,” which is when the journey through his health challenges took a few unexpected, yet adventurous and enjoyable turns. Read more about Emile Greer’s story here, and find out how far he’s come the past 10 years.
Radioactive "Seeds of Hope" Implanted in Brain Cancer Patients
Surgeons at the University of Kansas Hospital are utilizing a new approach to fighting brain cancer by implanting radioactive “seeds” inside the brains of patients with tumors that have previously been removed and since grown back. Radioactive seed treatments in the past have required tubes to be loaded and removed later. Patients also had to wear a helmet and stay away from others, which is unnecessary with this treatment. “It’s cesium 131 isotope which radiates only a very small amount of tissue. It keeps the radiation very well confined to that area, doesn’t result in some of the same wound healing problems we have when we’re giving external beam radiation,” said Paul J. Camarata, MD, FAANS, a neurosurgeon from the University of Kansas Hospital. The radioactive seeds are a promising option for cancers that have spread to the brain from other parts of the body, but it should be noted they won't be effective for brain cancers such as gliomas. To read more about this treatment, click here.
Exercise and the Brain — How it Can Become Your Best Medicine
It has been well established that exercise can help combat chronically high levels of stress. However, research tells us that there are more chemicals at play in the brain than just endorphins, and their effects can go beyond a temporary “feel good” experience. Aside from elevating endorphins, authors from the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain detail how exercise regulates all of the neurotransmitters targeted by antidepressants. Additionally, the atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), produced by the pumping muscles of the heart, travels through the blood stream and intro the brain, where it works to further moderate noise and stress responses — acting as a potent reliever of emotional stress and anxiety. Furthermore, exercise immediately increases levels of dopamine, and if a regular schedule is maintained, brain cells in the motivation center will sprout new dopamine receptors, creating natural motivation to keep exercising. To read more about how exercise can help manage stress and keep your brain healthy, click here.