Neurosurgery Alumni Newsletter

Dear Henry Ford Neurosurgery Alumni,

With cautious optimism, we are looking forward in 2022 - hopefully without Covid - and starting to see a return to our 2019 patient volumes. The group has remained focused on our patients and their best possible outcomes.

Clinically, the Neuro-oncology, Skull Base and Spine programs are expecting to see increased volumes with the clinical addition of Gamma Tile (a new brachytherapy associated with promising results), cutting edge endoscopic techniques and technology, and increasing numbers of robotic spinal fusions, respectively. Although open vascular cases are still limited, our endovascular staff are seeing increased numbers of stroke patients and expanding our practice into the Macomb region.

In the Hermelin laboratories, our scientists had a remarkable year in terms of NIH and other funding. Most notably, Dr. Houtan Noushmehr and colleagues continue to work on Liquid Biopsy (LB) which is leading to interesting data indicating that soon the diagnosis, follow-up management of patients, and prognosis for patients with gliomas, meningiomas and pituitary tumors based on serum analyses will be a reality, likely supplanting open biopsy in the not-too-distant future. As we all know, despite advances in surgical techniques and clinical regimens, malignant gliomas usually progress or recur after treatment. Currently, visual inspection of imaging data is the mainstay to monitor glioma progression; however, this approach may not be accurate or refined enough to monitor treatment response or evolving prognostic subtypes. Imaging data has limited ability to distinguish 1) gliomas from other tumors (e.g., primary central nervous system lymphoma), 2) progression from pseudoprogression (pseudoPD) resulting from therapy-induced necrosis or 3) minimal or remnant tumoral burden. Recently, we and others found that potential drivers of glioma progression are mediated by gene mutation and epigenetic abnormalities. Generally, cancer molecular signatures are identifiable in tumoral tissue; however, several groups have reported that tumor-specific signatures using both genetics and DNA methylation can be captured by non- or minimally invasive approaches such as LB using biospecimens (e.g., blood and cerebrospinal fluid). On the national side, as you may already know, Dr. Kalkanis, who recently completed his term as President of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, and the Department of Neurosurgery at Henry Ford Hospital are finalizing plans to host this year’s Society of Neurological Surgeons (SNS) annual meeting in May. This meeting hosts national and international neurosurgeons and focuses primarily on residency training. Our 2022 keynote speakers include the Detroit-based businessman and philanthropist, Mr. Daniel Gilbert, and the current Mayor of Detroit, Michael Duggan. Evening events will include a trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts on Sunday and a black- tie dinner at the MGM Grand Detroit.

Great progress has been made since the system formalized the agreement between Michigan State University (MSU) and Henry Ford Hospital. Dr. Kalkanis, CEO of the Henry Ford Medical Group and Chief Academic Officer of Henry Ford Health System, and others are guiding the system forward to a National Cancer Center designation, a medical school, and a research building on the West Grand Blvd campus within the next five years.

The Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion which opened its doors on January 20, 2021, is making a statewide impression in offering a robust, comprehensive cancer service line and an integrated disease-specific model of care that focuses on building interdisciplinary teams of experts around the patient, with fully integrated cancer services and seamless connectivity to the quaternary hub in Detroit for complex services.

Our residents continue to be our pride and joy. We have an excellent group who have stepped up in many ways throughout the last two years supporting all system needs, consistently promoting world class patient care while remaining superbly academically productive.

Overall, the department has performed at the highest level over the last year despite the continuing challenges and the future of Henry Ford Health System and the Department of Neurosurgery is bright.

Jack P. Rock, MD
Interim Department Chair

Highlights - 2021 & 2022

  • The Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion opened its doors for patient care on January 20, 2021. The 187,000 sq ft structure features 6 floors and 410 ft of skywalk for a convenient connection to Henry Ford Hospital. Other highlights of the Pavilion include:
    • Disease-specific clinics where a patient’s entire cancer team – including radiation oncologists, medical oncologists and surgeons – comes to them
    • Private infusion bays that overlook a garden lounge
    • Imaging and lab services with rapid test results
    • A dedicated area where patients can speak with research nurses about clinical trial opportunities
    • On-site exercise, acupuncture, nutrition and wellness services
    • Activity rooms and reflection areas, along with galleries donated by the Detroit Institute of Arts
    • First-floor OncoStat clinic and retail pharmacy, including wigs and other garments
    • Food market designed for patients with a sensitive sense of smell
    • Attached self-parking structure with ample handicapped parking on each level and direct access by floor to care areas.
  • The Society of Neurological Surgeons meeting originally scheduled at Henry Ford Hospital in 2021, has been rescheduled for May 21-24, 2022.
  • Henry Ford Health has signed an agreement with Michigan State University which will lead to a medical school and research building on the HFH Detroit campus.
  • Karam Asmaro: Karen J. Stuck, M.D., Neuroscience Resident Achievement Award
  • Jacob Pawloski: Lieutenant Andrew Summers Rowan Award (aka the Garcia Award), given to the resident who “carries the message” and gets the job done.
  • Sameah Haider: Beverly C. Walters, MD, MSc, FRCSC Research Award
  • Travis Hamilton: Kuntz Award for oral presentation at the AANS/CNS Joint Spine Section Meeting in Las Vegas, NV (Feb 23-26, 2022), “Application of Machine Learning for a Prediction Model for Patient Reported Outcomes after lumbar surgery: A MSSIC study”

Residents were awarded the following fellowships:

  • Rizwan Tahir 2020 Neurovascular and endovascular surgery Thomas Jefferson University
  • Hesham Zakaria 2020 Complex Spine, Johns Hopkins University
  • Karam Asmaro 2021 Skullbase, Stanford University
  • Mohamed Macki 2022 Spine Fellowship at University of California, San Francisco
  • Thomas Zervos 2022 Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowship at Barrow Institute

View a complete list of all our resident alumni and where they landed after their training

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