Research

The Neurosurgery Department at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is exploring new ways to improve the treatment of a range of neurological diseases and conditions. We receive financial support from the National Institutes of Health, other health organizations, and private donations. Close collaboration between our research and clinical teams allows us to turn our research findings into new therapies to better patient care. Our current research initiatives are as follows.

Pituitary Care and Research Center

The Pituitary Care and Research Center uses advanced innovative neurosurgical techniques to treat the most complex cases. As the premier destination for the management and treatment of various pituitary tumors and disorders, our team of expert endocrinologists and esteemed neurosurgeons including Joshua B. Bederson, MD, and Kalmon D. Post, MD, treat the full spectrum of pituitary tumors and disorders, such as Cushing’s disease and acromegaly.

Neurosurgery Simulation Core

Established by Joshua B. Bederson, MD, and currently led by Anthony B. Costa, PhD, the Neurosurgery Simulation Core aims to improve outcomes and reduce complications in patients undergoing brain surgery by leveraging the potential of novel surgical training, pre- and intraoperative simulation, and 3D visualization technologies.

Epilepsy Surgery Research Program

Led by Saadi Ghatan, MD and Fedor E. Panov, MD, the Epilepsy Surgery Research Program provides pediatric and adult seizure patients with access to novel medical therapies and individualized long-term care. Current studies are exploring the mechanisms of epilepsy, improving diagnostic studies, evaluating novel medical treatments, and studying the safety and efficacy of surgical treatments. Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) is a new technology that has now become an important treatment option available for the management of epilepsy in the Mount Sinai Health System.

Trauma Research Program

Led by Zachary L. Hickman, MD, Konstantinos Margetis, MD, PhD, and Hang S. Byun, MD, the Department is engaged in a number of research studies and clinical trials that aim to provide new insights and treatments for patients suffering from both cranial and spinal trauma. The Department maintains a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) registry, providing a platform for quality-improvement studies and clinical trials.

In collaboration with Arthur L. Jenkins, III, MD, the Department of Neurosurgery at Elmhurst Hospital Center is participating in a clinical trial that aims to improve outcomes after spinal cord injury by down-regulating post-traumatic axonal degeneration mechanisms. Additionally, Tanvir Choudhri, MD, is running a clinical trial that aims to reduce complications following lumbar fusion, by vaccinating patients against a common pathogen responsible for postoperative infections.

Center for Neuromodulation

Led by Brian H. Kopell, MD, the Center for Neuromodulation researches new and innovative treatments for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, chronic pain, major depression, and tinnitus. The Center is also exploring the use of the experimental cortical stimulation—a type of neuromodulation that stimulates the surface of the brain—which is not yet Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved.

Brain Tumors

Our department has several research labs devoted to the study of brain tumors.

Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program

Isabelle Germano, MD, who leads the Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program, recently completed a multi-center trial using Optune—a device approved by the FDA in October 2015—for newly diagnosed glioblastoma (GBM), the most aggressive primary brain tumor. The results of our clinical trial showed that patients with newly diagnosed GBM who used Optune had longer time before tumor progression. More importantly, half of the people treated by Optune are alive two years post-treatment or longer.

Neurosurgery Oncology Program

Constantinos Hadjipanayis MD, PhD, the Director of Neurosurgical Oncology for the Mount Sinai Health System, is the Principal Investigator for 5-ALA Fluorescence-Guided Surgery (FGS) effort in North America and is actively involved in translational therapeutics for malignant gliomas. Drs. Isabelle Germano, Saadi Ghatan, and Raymund L. Yong, MD, are active brain tumor surgeons involved with clinical trials and outstanding clinical care of brain tumor patients. Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) is now available throughout the Health System for the treatment of certain brain tumors that have relapsed despite surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Radiosurgery Program

The Radiosurgery Program pioneered radiosurgery treatment for brain and spine cancer and tumors. A peer-reviewed paper: “Clinical outcome after single fraction spine radiosurgery for spinal metastasis” by Dr. Germano and colleagues, reports on the high tumor control rate and resolution of pain after single fraction spine radiosurgery for spinal metastasis. Radiosurgery is also performed at Mount Sinai West. Drs. Hadjipanayis, Yong, Srivastava are actively involved with stereotactic radiosurgery treatment of patients. Close collaboration with Mount Sinai radiation oncologists, Drs. Sheryl Green and Walter Choi permits multidisciplinary care for patients requiring stereotactic radiosurgery.

The Brain Tumor Research Program

The Brain Tumor Research Program—comprised of Hongyan Zou, MD, Roland Friedel, PhD, Raymund Yong, MD, Constantinos Hadjipanayis, MD, PhD, and Isabelle Germano, MD—present their data weekly at a joint laboratory conference for the pursuit of collaborations and joint grant submissions on basic and translational research focusing on malignant brain tumors, specifically glioblastoma.

The Brain Tumor Nanotechnology Laboratory

The Brain Tumor Nanotechnology Laboratory is an NIH-funded laboratory. Led by principal investigator Constantinos Hadjipanayis, MD, PhD, the lab develops multifunctional nanotechnology platforms for the targeted imaging and therapy of malignant gliomas. Researchers have backgrounds in neurosurgery, cancer research, molecular biology, engineering, chemistry, and physics. The combination of these disciplines allows for the characterization and application of various nanotechnologies in glioblastoma cell culture and different rodent glioma models (including a pediatric diffuse intrinsic brain stem glioma (DIPG) model). Cell signaling pathways, radiosensitivity and chemosensitivity enhancement, and convection-enhanced drug delivery (CED) will be studied with various nanotechnology agents.

The Brain Tumor Molecular Genetics Laboratory

The Brain Tumor Molecular Genetics Laboratory is led by Raymund L. Yong, MD, and currently studies the evolutionary dynamics of glioma, the most malignant and complex primary brain tumor. The overall goal of the program is to identify new, modifiable, or even reversible, mechanisms of treatment resistance acquisition that might serve as the basis of future paradigm-shifting treatment strategies.

Laboratory of Axonal Growth and Neuronal Regeneration

The Axonal Growth and Neuronal Regeneration Laboratory, led by Hongyan Zou, MD, is currently NIH-funded. The lab currently studies how neurons originate, extend axons, and regenerate or fail to regenerate after mammalian CNS injury. In vivo axon injury models, neuronal cultures, molecular biology, and various imaging and tissue engineering techniques are used to study mechanisms that promote neurogenesis and axonogenesis.

Laboratory of Glioma Invasion and Stem Cells

Roland Friedel, PhD, is studying the mechanisms for glioma invasion and stem cell maintenance and is currently NIH-funded. His laboratory is involved with a mouse glioma model, which can be used to study oncogene amplification. His group has recently discovered new mechanistic insights in glioma progression.

Cerebrovascular Center

The Cerebrovascular Center has several studies and clinical trials for both adults and pediatrics. Led by J Mocco, MD, MS, there are 24 trials in various stages of start-up and enrollment. Research led by Alejandro Berenstein, MD, focuses on novel, innovative techniques to approach treatment of vascular malformations in pediatric and adult patients. Additionally, through patient databases, Dr. Berenstein and his team can track long-term outcomes post-treatment and help guide therapeutic protocol for future patients.

Neurocritical Care

Mount Sinai’s Neurocritical Care Research Consortium, led by Neha S. Dangayach, MD, focuses on uncovering new ways to treat the brain in crisis. Based on a partnership between our Neurology and Neurosurgery scientists and the Department of Emergency medicine, the Neurocritical Care research team is on call 24/7 to provide support for our study protocols, which focus on emergency treatments for stroke, cardiac arrest, status epileptics, sepsis, and other life-threatening conditions that affect the brain. The Consortium is currently conducting more than 20 active clinical trials are investigating new ways of treating acute ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, subarachnoid hemorrhage, ruptured brain aneurysms, cardiac arrest, and status epileptics.

Skull Base Research Program

The Skull Base Research Program, led by Joshua B. Bederson, MD, and Raj K. Shrivastava, MD, runs multiple studies involving surgical planning and skull base tumor resection. Researchers have authored and analyzed the NSQUIP database to study longitudinal patterns of medical and surgical morbidity on skull base tumors. The Skull Base Surgery team is currently working with Priti Balchandani, PhD, and the Institute for Translational medicine on a project involving Ultra high-field 7T MRI imaging in surgical planning and skull base tumor resection. The team is also working with Eric Schadt, PhD, and Mary Fowkes, MD, to investigate the molecular genetics and phenotypic expression of atypical and high-grade meningioma.

Pediatrics

The Pediatric Neurosurgery Research Program, led by Principal Investigator Dr. Saadi Ghatan, researches epileptogenic networks in children and young adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and pharmacoresistant seizures. In addition, research is conducted by internationally renowned Alejandro Berenstein, MD, which focuses on innovative techniques to treat vascular malformations in children.