UCSF Presents Latest Advances in Neurology, Neurosurgery

By Jason Bardi

The largest meetings of the year in the fields of neurology and neurosurgery took place this week in Honolulu and Denver, drawing dozens of faculty, medical residents, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students from UCSF, many presenting their latest advances and discoveries.

This special section highlights some of these talks and posters, which ranged from the most advanced MRI techniques for imaging the brain during neurosurgery to the latest discoveries and newest treatments for numerous neurological disorders -- including pediatric stroke, Alzheimer’s, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis.

Neurology Meeting in Hawaii

In Honolulu, nearly 10,000 clinicians and researchers from 93 countries across the globe gathered at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) -- the world’s largest gathering of neurologists, with more than 2,500 scientific posters and talks. UCSF researchers, with colleagues at other institutions, made about 100 of these presentations.

One of the keynote speeches of the conference was delivered Tuesday by Stephen L. Hauser, MD, chair of the Department of Neurology. During that morning’s Presidential Plenary Session, which featured the conference’s premiere lectures on some of the most clinically significant findings in neurology today, Hauser gave the Robert Wartenberg Lecture, titled, “Multiple Sclerosis: What Is in Store for Our Patients?”

Other highlights of the 63rd AAN meeting:

  • Neuropsychologist Kate Rankin, PhD, and colleagues reported that patients with frontotemporal dementia lose the ability to detect sarcasm and lying, a behavior that could serve as an early symptom of the disease. Read the news release.
  • Neuropsychologist Joel Kramer, PhD, Jonathan Gooblar and colleagues reported that older adults at risk for stroke have significantly increased risk for some types of cognitive decline risk. Read the news release.
  • Kramer and other colleagues reported that high levels of a protein associated with chronic, low-grade inflammation in the brain correlate with aspects of memory decline in otherwise cognitively normal older adults. Read the news release.
  • Scientists studying patients who have both Alzheimer's disease and progressive supranuclear palsy say the clinical features of the two conditions are more than a simple combination of the two. The work is led by Adam Boxer, MD, PhD, a neurologist, and Eric Fine, PhD, a neuropsychology postdoctoral fellow. Read the news release.

  • Radiologist Orit Glenn, MD, and colleagues report their latest findings using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)  to track fetal brain development. The goal of their work is to determine what goes wrong in some developmental conditions. Read the news release.

  • Neuroradiologist James Tatum, MD, and colleagues report on their study looking at the effectiveness of treating children having stokes with a technique known as "mechanical embolectomy," a standard treatment for stroke in adults. Read the news release.

“My overall question is, ‘why is there cognitive change as we age?’” said Kramer. “If you don’t have a neurodegenerative disease, and haven’t had a stroke, what are the things that drive declining cognition? If we can understand the factors, maybe we can do something about them. We’re also just starting to look at exercise and want to study sleep,” he said.

Neurosurgery Meeting in Denver

At the 79th American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) in Denver, several members of the UCSF Department of Neurosurgery gave presentations and department Chair Mitchel S. Berger, MD, FACS, was named president elect of the AANS at the meeting.

Highlights of the 79th AANS meeting:

  • UCSF neurosurgeon Praveen Mummaneni, MD, presented an analysis of three large, randomized clinical trials on a new surgery for cervical disc disease in the neck that may restore range of motion and reduce repeat surgeries in some younger patients. Read the news release
  • UCSF neurosurgeon Paul Larson, MD presented initial test data on a new MRI device that guides surgeons as they implant electrodes into the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders during deep brain stimulation surgeries. Read the news release

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