2014 AANS Annual Report - page 36

In the six years since its inception, NeuroPoint Alliance (NPA) has seen
overwhelming success with its National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcome
Database (N²QOD), a continuous national clinical registry tracking practice
patterns and patients outcomes for neurosurgical and spine procedures.
It recently marked the launch of a new registry project for stereotactic
radiosurgery, and central to its creation was Jason Sheehan, MD, PhD, FAANS.
That Sheehan arrived at a career in neurosurgery and showed a keen interest
in stereotactic procedures seems like a principle of electromagnetism at
work: “Neurosurgery was a natural attraction. The instant gratification of
performing a neurosurgical procedure appealed to me. Prior to medical
school, I studied engineering and biological physics. Applying engineering
and mathematical solutions to neurosurgical approaches has interested me
the most. Hence, my perspective in engineering and physics is illustrated
well in the field of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). SRS allows neurosurgeons
to use physics and engineering principles to deliver minimally invasive
treatments to patients with complex intracranial and spinal disorders.”
Yet, beyond the science, the people element also factors into his love of
profession. “While I still conduct basic science and translational research,”
he revealed, “I find the surgical approaches and the patient encounters very
rewarding.” He further credits his mentors with “helping to foster [his] passion
for neurosurgery.”
As a testament to how networking within the specialty can generate exciting
new developments, a conversation with his brother, Jonas Sheehan, MD,
FAANS, also a neurosurgeon, ultimately led to the development of this unique,
industry-sponsored registry. Dr. Jonas Sheehan works with Robert Harbaugh,
MD, FAANS, the 2013-2014 NPA president, at Penn State Medical Center.
Sheehan explained, “Jonas had mentioned to me about Dr. Harbaugh’s ideas
for scientific advancement in neurosurgery through the use of prospective
registries.” Interested, Sheehan learned more from Harbaugh and Anthony
Asher, MD, FAANS, N
QOD director, about the successes and challenges of the
lumbar spine registry, he said. Then, some of his colleagues at the University
of Virginia, Christopher Shaffrey, MD, FAANS; and Mark Shaffrey, MD, FAANS,
were some of the early adopters of N
QOD’s lumbar registry, he said, affording
him an opportunity to observe registry participation from a practical
perspective. The success of that inaugural registry eventually encouraged the
creation of others. “Over the past couple years,” Sheehan recounted, “[other
neurosurgeons] and corporate partners gradually came to realize that SRS
would be a good field for a prospective, quality registry. With time, concerted
effort and a bit of luck, the SRS registry became a reality.”
NPA’s new SRS registry represents a collaboration between the American
Association of Neurological Surgeons (AAANS) and the American Society for
Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). “As SRS is performed in a multidisciplinary
fashion,” Sheehan said, describing the organizations’ working relationship,
“the partnership between AANS and ASTRO on this registry makes a lot of
sense. Working together, the AANS and ASTRO could perform better science
to improve quality and patient outcomes. Moreover, corporate partners truly
wanted us to work together on a single national SRS registry. The data
elements, acquisition of the data, data analysis, data governance and
dissemination of findings are overseen by the SRS registry board, and I am a
member of this board.”
Explaining how this new registry differs from its counterparts, Sheehan
noted, “Unlike past NPA efforts, the SRS registry is funded in large part
through educational grants from corporate partners. There is also financial,
administrative and intellectual support and governance given by the parent
professional societies. The registry is truly a national effort. In year one, 30
high-volume SRS sites will begin to accrue patients to the registry. Data is
collected prospectively and stored in a data repository housed by Quintiles, a
national company with extensive experience in medical trials and analytics.
“I am truly excited about this launching of the SRS registry,” Sheehan shared.
“Radiosurgery is a rapidly growing field for neurosurgery and radiation
oncology. It has broad indications in the treatment of benign and malignant
tumors, vascular malformations and functional disorders. The registry will
give us the ‘big data’ that we need to refine the current techniques and
indications and improve patient outcomes. Such data can only be derived
in a prospective fashion from large patient cohorts and in real life clinical
situations not hindered by clinical equipoise.”
In summary, he added, “I believe that the SRS registry is just the tip of the
iceberg for future specialty-specific national registries in neurosurgery.”
Jason Sheehan, MD, PhD, FAANS
, completed undergraduate and graduate studies, as well
as his residency at the University of Virginia, and he performed fellowships at the University
of Pittsburgh Medical Center and at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. In addition
to his work on the SRS registry, Sheehan is the Harrison Distinguished Professor and
vice chair of neurological surgery at the University of Virginia. A member of the American
Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), the American College of Surgeons, Leksell
Gamma Knife Society, Neurosurgical Society of the Virginias, AANS/CNS Tumor Section, and
the American Society of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgeons, he is the author or co-
author of more than 250 peer-reviewed papers.
Jason Sheehan, MD, PhD, FAANS, spearheads the creation of a new stereotactic radiosurgery registry
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