«ANNUAL REPORT Stimulating Science in a Unique Setting reSearCh update in neuroSCienCe for neuroSurgeonS (runn) oCtober 28 – november 4, 2012 ...»
in a Unique Setting
reSearCh update in neuroSCienCe
for neuroSurgeonS (runn)
oCtober 28 – november 4, 2012
Robert J. Dempsey
The Society of
Issam A. Awad
CourSe direCtorS CourSe Coordinator
Allan H. Friedman, M.D. Karen Koenig
Robert M. Friedlander, M.D.
Mission Statement The Mission of the course, Research Update in Neuroscience for Neurosurgeons (RUNN), is to provide an introduction to and update of the latest concepts, hypotheses and methods of neurobiology and neuroscience relevant to neurological surgery. These are presented by accomplished neuroscientists in an atmosphere emphasizing scientific rigor, highlighting models of career development for neurosurgeon-scientists, and illustrating potential future neurosurgical applications. A milieu of total immersion in scientific discourse is designed to foster creative discussions among neurosurgical trainees and faculty. Participants are instructed on selecting a research topic, identifying a mentor, designing hypothesis driven experiments and writing grants.
The course is designed to stimulate neurosurgical trainees to participate in basic, translational, and clinical research relevant to the practice of neurological surgery.
Historical Background and Setting The RUNN course was the brainchild of Henry Schmidek, formerly of Harvard University and the University of Vermont. The course was conceived in response to the anticipated expansion of neurosciences, which he predicted in the early 1980’s.
The course was to combat what he perceived as potential illiteracy in basic neurobiology that he feared would weaken the specialty of neurosurgery. Dr. Schmidek’s RUNN Course has been instrumental in setting the course of academic neurosurgeons.
As with so many neuroscientists from New England, Dr.
Schmidek was very familiar with the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) at Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
Established in 1888 as a non-profit institution devoted to research and education in basic biology, the MBL has
Here research ships leave everyday to study the pristine waters around Martha’s Vineyard sound and to collect and maintain more than 200 species of marine life. There are 230,000 square feet of research space and a splendid library with an extraordinary repository of books and journals and incredible electronic connectivity to everything biological. It is here that the giant squid axon was (and continues to be) so closely studied unfolding the splendid story of molecular mechanisms of neural function. There are incredible microscopy facilities, numerous amphitheaters and teaching facilities, a quintessential scientific community in true life and work, and a magnificent setting for creativity and scholarly productivity. And there is Swope Hall, a simple dormitory sleepily straddling a quaint harbor, with a friendly staff that knows how to host students and scholars.
It is all in Woods Hole, that lovely little spot and ideal gateway, along the magnificent coast of Cape Cod and nearby islands. With miles of bicycle trails and nearby ferries, the only competition to diligent scholarship at Woods Hole is the inspiring call of nature.
It is here that Henry Schmidek cast his RUNN course, and lobbied other residency program directors to send their trainees once a year. By the mid-1980’s it was an established offering for two weeks each fall, immersing neurosurgery residents from New Orleans to Saint Louis, from Minnesota to Maryland, and from San Francisco to New York City. The faculty included scientists from the MBL, demonstrating microscopy and dissection and scientists from the New England universities who would drive to the MBL for one or two days to participate in RUNN. There would also be neurosurgery’s rising academic stars as role models, and wiser icons telling their tales of successes and challenges in the laboratory.
During this period, Charlie and Cordell cultivated a core of devoted faculty from the MBL, Syracuse, Vermont, Harvard, Brown, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other institutions who would participate on a regular basis as faculty. A requirement for faculty participation
Because of untimely illness in 1998, Dr. Gross asked to step down from the Directorship of the RUNN Course which he had grown to love so much. The opportunity of change of leadership allowed a re-examination and re-commitment to the Mission and core values of the RUNN Course.
The AANS and CNS asked the Society of Neurological Surgeons (SNS) to assume sponsorship and oversight of the course. Established in 1920 the SNS is known in neurosurgical lore as the “Senior Society” or organization of North American Chairmen and Residency Program Directors. The SNS would insure Program Directors’ continued commitment to this unique educational offering, and ensure residents’ continued participation.
In 1999, the leadership of the RUNN Course was entrusted to Issam A. Awad. Dr. Awad broadened the goals of the RUNN Course to educate neurosurgical residents in formulating hypothesis driven experiments, establishing laboratories and writing grants. To this end, several neurosurgeons who headed successful basic science laboratories were added to the faculty. The Society owes a debt of gratitude to Cathy Awad who administered the Course during Dr. Awad’s tenure. Cathy coordinated everything from “T” shirts to accommodations to finances.
RUNN Course Leadership In 2004, Dr. Awad passed the baton of leadership to Allan H. Friedman (Duke University) and Robert M. Friedlander (Harvard) as the new Directors of the Course. The Co-Directors of the Course are Issam A. Awad (Northwestern), Bruce Andersen (Idaho Neurological Institute), Henry Brem (Johns Hopkins), Robert J. Dempsey (University of Wisconsin) and Charles Hodge, Jr.
(SUNY at Syracuse). Dr. Andersen works closely with Jim Gailbraith and Paul Gallant (both of the National Institutes of Health) on the squid lab and microscopy workshop. Course Coordinator, Karen Koenig, works throughout the year to insure RUNN is executed flawlessly, managing the organization, administration and accounting of the Course.
The 2012 RUNN Course Curriculum:
Tradition and Innovation In 2012, the good Lord threw the RUNN Course a curve ball in the form of Hurricane Sandy. All power was lost for 24 hours and there was a hiatus in internal service. The closure of Logan Airport in Boston and Providence Airport in Rhode Island barred most of the speakers scheduled during the first four days from attending the course.
We persevered with a rewarding academic experience. The residents were terrific and the hardship resulted in a strong sense of camaraderie’s. Special thanks to Dr. Dempsey, Benzel, Schneider and Awad for pitching in and sustaining the course.
The founding mission and core values of the RUNN Course remained unchanged. The SNS Executive Committee (representing North American Residency Program Directors) rearticulated its commitment to the course and its leadership.
New Lectures Presented
at the 2012 Course:
1. Michael D. Taylor, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Toronto, “Clinical Implications of Paediatric Brain Tumor Molecular Genetics.”
2. Michel Modo, Ph.D., from the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, “The Use of Stem Cells in Neurosurgical and Neurological Applications.”
3. Emad Eskandar, M.D., from Harvard Medical School, “Neurophysiology of Learning, Motivation, and Impulsivity.”
4. Louis J. Ptácek, M.D., John C. Coleman Distinguished Professor of Neurology, Department of Neurology Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Francisco, Keynote Speaker: “Human Neurogenetics: Using Human Families to Find Genes, Understand Basic Biology, and Move Toward Better Treatments for Patients.”
5. Mark Bevan, Ph.D., from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, “Mechanisms Underlying Motor Dysfunction in Parkinson’s Disease and the Therapeutic Efficacy of DBS.” The collegial atmosphere at Swope Hall remained unchanged, as were the memorable late night sessions with snacks, beer and wine and the very late night sessions at Captain Kidd’s where residents discussed everything from research topics and career paths, to residency training, to NFL football. Each attendee received a complimentary copy of the Fundamental Neuroscience, Edited by Squire, Berg, Bloom, du Lac and Ghosh. This book is a magnificent reference to the topics covered in the lectures, and it is an outstanding resource for future study. The books were funded by a grant from Synthes Spine Corporation.
A Splendid Cast of Faculty The faculty are world-class scientists who are able to present their work in a stimulating fashion.
There were 30 faculty and 8 directors, representing an extraordinary student/faculty ratio of 2/1.
Attendees were mesmerized by the dynamic speakers and post lecture discussions were lively and probing. The residents discussed personal choices in research commitments and career direction with the invited speakers. Many faculty members had participated in the RUNN Course for several years, and all promised to come again if invited. The Course evaluations filled out by the attendees are used to make modifications in the course’s speakers and structure.
An Enthusiastic Cast of Attendees There were 91 attendees (see list) representing programs throughout the United States and Canada. The reshaped course is ideal for young attending neurosurgeons just embarking on their academic career. Our goal is to attract one neurosurgeon from each neurosurgical program in North America.
Our participants continue to be enthusiastic. It is exciting to see the participants swept up in the lectures and spontaneously confronting the lecturers with insightful questions. If this group is representative of neurosurgical residents, the future of neurosurgery looks very bright.
Course Report by Kyle HalvorsonNeurosurgical Resident, Duke University Hospital
The 2012 RUNN course was filled with excitement right from the beginning! With Hurricane Sandy’s giant waves crashing along the breakwater outside the Marine Biological Laboratory, and the locals of Woods Holes running for cover, we bunkered down in Swope Hall (protected from floods by walls of sand bags) to learn some of the most interesting neuroscience applicable to the field of Neurosurgery. Although Mother Nature left the town without power for a several days, she did not stop the MBL generators from powering Dr. Benzel and his spirited lecture on spine biomechanics. This was followed by a captivating lecture by Dr. Schneider on fiber tracking in neurosurgical TBI patients. The quality of this imaging modality is near anatomical dissection.
These images are clinically essential, demonstrating the degree of injury and disruption of normal brain circuitry to patients and their families. This Apple iPad based multimedia format will provide us, neurosurgeons, with an accessible and powerful, patient friendly method to improve communication amongst each other, our patients and nonsurgical colleagues.
After what seemed like only a single action potential, the power returned and the weather improved in Woods Hole. However, as many of our esteemed speakers were grounded hundreds of miles away, we again looked to technology to bridge the distance: videoconferencing. Some of the crowd favorite lectures included Dr. Michael Taylor’s update on the advances in pediatric brain tumor genetics as well as Dr. Andres Lozano’s description of novel functional neurosurgical targets for treating depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. Dr. Reggie Edgerton followed, examining the current state of rehabilitative therapy and brain machine interface prosthetics for patients who have suffered spinal cord injuries. The week showcased breakthroughs in neuroscience, highlighting where the field is headed. Outside of the Speck Auditorium, one of the highlights of the course was the tour of the Marine Biology
Each of our world renowned and highly respected speakers shared impressive state-of-the-art research in neuroscience. As an added bonus to those of us fortunate enough to be there, many also shared their unique perspectives on a career in neurosurgery. It may come as no surprise, however, that significant learning occurred outside Speck Auditorium, wherein we as residents were able to interact with colleagues and mentors from around the country. Many insightful conversations were had at Captain Kidd’s Pub, as often we made up the only, and entire, crowd brave enough to weather the storm.
Even in the middle of a hurricane, the RUNN Course was an irreplaceable opportunity to learn about cutting edge science from the talented individuals at the forefront. The acknowledgement of the importance of learning in this forum by programs across the country, free from pagers and clinical duties, will provide the hypotheses to tomorrow’s research questions. This balance will not only improve clinical acumen, but will bring patient care to new heights.
Course Report by Steven CookNeurosurgical Resident, Duke University Hospital