Jefferson Physicians Recognized by Congress of Neurological Surgeons

The Vickie and Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience at Jefferson’s national prominence in neurosurgery was readily visible during the Congress of Neurological Surgeons’ annual meeting in San Diego.  Ashwini Sharan, MD, Professor of Neurological Surgery and Residency Program Director, was named president elect and Nohra Chalouhi, MD, a fourth year neurosurgical resident, was awarded the CNS Resident Award.  Kimon Bekelis, MD, a neurosurgical fellow, was granted both the Sam Hassenbusch Young Neurosurgeon’s Award and a CNS Innovation Fellowship.  Michael Lang, MD, a sixth year neurosurgical resident, was awarded best stereotactic and functional neurosurgery poster.  James Harrop, MD, Professor of Neurological Surgery and Orthopedic Surgery, served as the meeting’s Scientific Program Chair. 

Sharan has been an active leader in the neurosurgical community since he finished his training.  He is the past president of the American Association of South Asian Neurosurgeons (AASAN), current president of the North American Neurostimulation Society (NANS), in addition to previous service on a number of CNS committees.  Sharan is also the 2002 recipient of the organization’s William H. Sweet Young Investigator Award and Philadelphia magazine’s Rising Stars Under 40 in 2009.

“The CNS is an exceptional organization that has been tirelessly advocating for neurosurgeons since its inception, with a particular emphasis on continually improving neurosurgical education,” Sharan said.  “I admire the sense of volunteerism amongst the executive board, staff and, particularly, its members.  The annual meeting is absolutely one of the highlights of my year.  It’s great to come together with colleagues from around the country, and the world, to discuss and debate the various aspects of our incredible profession.”

Chalouhi won the CNS Resident Award for his study, Differential Gender Response to Aspirin in Decreasing Aneurysm Rupture in Humans and Mice.  In 2011, an epidemiological study suggested that patients with unruptured brain aneurysms taking aspirin may be less likely to have an hemorrhagic stroke.  This was an unexpected result. 

To further investigate this crucial finding, Chalouhi and his colleagues turned to an animal model of brain aneurysm. Their findings concurred with the epidemiologic results – aspirin reduced the risk of aneurysmal rupture and further confirmed the finding that men were more likely than women to benefit from aspirin therapy. 

 “For the first time,” Chalouhi remarked, “we may have a medical treatment for unruptured aneurysms that is cost-effective, safe and effective.”  Chalouhi and his colleagues’ findings were recently published in Hypertension, marking his 178th scholarly publication. 

Kimon Bekelis, MD’s fellowship will fund time for him to develop new neurosurgical training modalities.  He was also the recipient of the Sam Hassenbusch Young Neurosurgeon’s Award for his abstract “Does Ranking of Surgeons in a Publically Available Online Outcome Correlate With Objective Outcomes?”  In this study, Bekelis and his colleagues compared publically available data (in this case, ProPublica’s Surgeon Scorecard) and data available through New York State’s unique, restricted dataset, which collects information regarding all New York hospital stays.

The publically available data’s “complication rate” showed no correlation to discharge-to-facility, unusually long lengths of stay, mortality or differences in cost. 

Michael Lang, MD’s poster was named Best Poster in the Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery Section.  Lang’s poster detailed a specific challenge that occurs in SEEG implantation, a procedure done to confirm the location of seizure activity in the brain.  When epileptic seizures are believed to originate in the insular lobe, it can be difficult to place the leads without damaging some of the brain’s arteries.  Jefferson neurosurgeons, including Lang, developed a novel SEEG approach to the insular lobe, avoiding injury to the brain’s arteries. 

The CNS meeting also featured a live surgery, performed by James Evans, MD, Professor of Neurological Surgery and Otolaryngology and Marc Rosen, MD, Professor of Otolaryngology.  The Jefferson surgeons performed a minimally-invasive removal of a pituitary tumor in Philadelphia while attendees watched in San Diego.  “This is a unique opportunity to share with national and international surgeons the minimally invasive endonasal techniques that we developed at Jefferson,” said Evans. “Our hope is that this educational effort will benefit patients worldwide.”  Evans and Alan Siu, MD, a neurosurgical fellow, also oversaw an endoscopic cadaver lab course.

Speakers at the annual meeting included: 

  • Robert H. Rosenwasser, MD, FACS, FAHA, Jewell L. Osterholm Professor and Chair of Neurological Surgery, Professor of Radiology and President of the Vickie and Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience at Jefferson, served as a director and moderator for a course about preventing and managing complications in cerebrovascular neurosurgery.  Later in the meeting, he delivered a lecture entitled “Advances in Disruptive Innovation in Neurovascular Surgery.”   
  • Jack Jallo, MD, PhD, Professor of Neurological Surgery and Vice Chair; M. Kamran Athar, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Neurological Surgery and Catriona Harrop, MD, FHM, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine and Neurological Surgery, spoke regarding neurocritical care and neurosurgical emergencies.  Jallo also lectured on the management of intracranial pressure and gave a day-long prep course for neurosurgeons preparing to take their board certification exam.
  • Stavropoula Tjoumakaris, MD, Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery, gave a lecture titled “CAS for Extracranial Atherosclerotic Disease,” and served as a moderator for a session regarding intracerebral hemorrhage trial updates,
  • Pascal Jabbour MD, Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery, participated in a session regarding the intersection between coagulation and cerebrovascular neurosurgery,
  • Gaurav Jain, MD, Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery, and residents Christian Hoelscher, MD and Richard Schmidt, MD, participated in the gameshow-style CNS SANS Challenge.  They placed eighth out of 45 programs.
  • Shannon Clark, MD, a seventh year resident, gave a lecture regarding the optimal placement of occipital nerve stimulators for headache using an animal model.
  • Srinivas Prasad, MD, MS, Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery and Orthopedic Surgery, spoke about the management of cervical degenerative disc disease and spinal trauma.
  • Ashwini Sharan, MD provided an overview of an ongoing spinal cord stimulation trial and managed a day-long spinal cord stimulation workshop. 
  • Michael Lang, MD, delivered an oral overview of his fifth year research projected, entitled “Enhanced Stem Cell Delivery by Functional Blood-Brain Barrier Modulation Improves Neurologic Recovery in a Rodent Stroke Model.”

In a parallel, unaffiliated meeting also held in San Diego, Pascal Jabbour, MD, Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery, was named President of the World Association of Lebanese Neurosurgeons (WALN).  The organization seeks to strengthen professional ties amongst Lebanese neurosurgeons throughout the world and improve the quality of neurosurgical services in that country.

Jefferson neurosurgeons are available for consultation in Philadelphia, Bryn Mawr, Wynnewood, Langhorne, Voorhees and Sewell.  Call 800-JEFF-NOW for an appointment.