A note from Neurosurgeon-in-Chief Mark Proctor, MD

Mark Proctor, MD

Dear colleagues:

As we head into 2020, I’d like to briefly share some of our new initiatives and faculty updates, the most notable being the newest addition to our team.

New faculty

We’re pleased to announce that Lissa Baird, MD, joined Boston Children’s Department of Neurosurgery in January 2020 as director of neurosurgical oncology. Dr. Baird was formerly chief of pediatric neurosurgery and associate professor of neurosurgery at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) as well as director of pediatric surgical neuro-oncology at OHSU’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. While at OHSU, Dr. Baird reorganized and expanded the clinical and scientific components of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Program, established the only multidisciplinary Pediatric Skull Base Program in the region, and expanded the neuro-endoscopic and minimally invasive neurosurgical programs at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. In her role at Boston Children’s, Dr. Baird will work closely with Katherine E. Warren, MD, the new clinical director of pediatric neuro-oncology, and Katie Pricola Fehnel, MD of Neurosurgery, to expand the research and clinical capabilities of our joint neuro-oncology program with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Welcome Dr. Baird!

New grants and projects

Katie Pricola Fehnel, MD received a new grant from Be Brave for Life to study a promising, modifiable therapeutic target for cerebral cavernous malformations, EphrinB2. Cavernomas in the brainstem and eloquent regions pose a treatment challenge and nonoperative interventions are needed. The study will evaluate the role of EphrinB2 and EphB4 in cavernomas, an initial step toward developing an alternative to surgical removal.

Edward R. Smith, MD received a grant from NIH/NINDS as part of a multi-center study examining modifiers of disease severity and progression in cerebral cavernous malformations, with University of California San Francisco as the primary site. The study is part of an ongoing 12-center trial evaluating brain tumor recurrence.

Joseph Madsen, MD and Christos Papadelis, PhD (head of the Children’s Brain Dynamics laboratory in the Division of Newborn Medicine) received a grant from NIH/NINDS to study interictal high frequency oscillations (HFOs) in pediatric patients. The goal is to non-invasively localize HFOs with high-density electroencephalography and magnetoencephalography in children with medically refractory epilepsy, distinguish pathological from physiological HFOs, and assess the effect of localization of HFOs with respect to surgical resection and patient outcomes.

R. Michael Scott, MD’s new project endeavors to identify much-needed predictors of outcomes in myelomeningocele patients who require decompression. With neuroradiologist Edward Yang, MD, PhD, Dr. Scott is making an extensive review of patients who underwent decompression at Boston Children’s following myelomeningocele repair to determine whether findings of preoperative MRIs predict patient outcomes. He hopes the results will help guide colleagues as to the efficacy of decompression in myelomeningocele cases.

Faculty news

Benjamin Warf, MD presented at the 2019 International Neural Tube Defects Conference in Boston this past September on Neural Tube Defects in Uganda. Dr. Warf also received an award for Exceptional Contribution to International Training in Neuroendoscopy at the International Federation of Neuroendoscopy meeting in Orlando.

Mark Proctor, MD presented at the 18th Congress of the International Society of Craniofacial Surgery in Paris this past September on Outcomes in endoscopic surgery for craniosynostosis: When are reoperations necessary? He also gave an oral presentation entitled Large single institution series of endoscopically treated infants with craniosynostosis. He was also elected to the American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery.

Cameron Sadegh, MD, PhD, a Massachusetts General Hospital-based resident working at Boston Children’s, received the Hydrocephalus Association Award at the Joint Section on Pediatrics AANS/CNS annual meeting for the best paper on hydrocephalus entitled Intraventricular hemorrhage induces rapid calcium signaling in rodent choroid plexus epithelial cells. Other authors include Huixin Xu, PhD, Frederick Shipley, Jason Sutin, PhD, Neil Dani, PhD, and Ivy Lin, PhD, and senior authors Benjamin Warf, MD, and Maria Lehtinen, PhD.

Upcoming events

Each spring, our Cerebrovascular Surgery and Intervention Center hosts an in-person event for families. It’s a popular opportunity for families with rare diseases to connect, meet experts in the field, and learn about the latest advances in research and clinical care. This spring, we’re taking the event virtual, in hopes of widening the audience to families outside New England who cannot attend in person.

In May, we are supporting primary care providers in our region — physicians, nurses, and advanced practitioners —with an in-person continuing education course led by Dr. Fehnel and our nursing team. The course will cover common issues we see in neurosurgery and provide guidance on when to refer.

Thanks for your attention, and please reach out at any time.

Mark Proctor, MD

Department of Neurosurgery
Boston Children’s Hospital