By ELLEN GOLDBAUM
Published September 26, 2023
Having 140 research abstracts from a single medical school department accepted to a major medical meeting is no small feat. And recently, that feat was widely recognized when the Department of Neurosurgery received an award for having the most accepted research abstracts at the annual meeting of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) in Washington, D.C. The discipline’s largest, most prestigious meeting, it attracted more than 6,000 attendees from around the globe.
Presiding over the meeting was CNS President Elad Levy, the L. Nelson Hopkins Endowed Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Science at UB, and a neurosurgeon with UBNS. (In his position as CNS president, Levy plays no role in award decisions.)
“Each submitted abstract reflects an independent project in which students, residents and faculty are actively involved,” says Rosalind Lai, assistant professor of neurosurgery in the Jacobs School. “Having the highest number of abstracts is a testament to UBNS’ position as a powerhouse for research. UBNS actively encourages and supports our residents and trainees in education and research, fostering an environment that nurtures their development into the next generation of neurosurgeon-scientists.”
Lai, who joined the UB faculty this fall after doing a fellowship with Levy in 2022-23, was awarded the CNS Foundation/CV Section Young Investigator Grant for her research on cerebral aneurysms. The award, which recognizes outstanding research on cerebrovascular disease, will provide Lai with $150,000 in grant money to support her research until 2026.
The grant will support Lai’s research into why females have a higher rate of developing aneurysms and genes associated with cerebral aneurysms.
And as first author and senior author, respectively, Lai and Levy led the UB resident and medical student team on a project on carotid artery stenosis and smoking, which received the best Clinical Research Poster Award in the Cerebrovascular Section.
A total of 11 neurosurgery residents, 10 attending neurosurgeons and four Jacobs School students attended the national meeting, many of whom say that having Levy serve as president of the organization has definitely raised its profile in the school.
“Dr. Levy’s position as president has increased our awareness of the importance of this organization and increased our desire to participate,” says Ryan Hess, neurosurgery resident in UB Neurosurgery. “As a result, many of us are taking advantage of all the excellent educational and networking opportunities at CNS. From a resident perspective, Levy’s position as CNS president is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to others in the neurosurgical community what we in Buffalo already know: UB Neurosurgery is an incredible place to train.”
Hess says it’s not surprising that the Department of Neurosurgery had so many high-caliber presentations to share at the meeting. “Due to the streamlined research infrastructure in our program, it is extremely easy as a resident to come up with an idea and see it through to publication,” he says. “The fact that many of our residents and fellows have multiple oral presentations speaks to the incredible quality of the research we do.” Hess knows from whence he speaks: of his 14 abstracts that were accepted to the CNS, six were accepted as oral presentations.
In addition to presentations by UB attending neurosurgeons and neurosurgery residents, several Jacobs School students also made presentations, including third-year student Marissa Kruk, who gave oral presentations on social media and on health systems science.
The meeting also featured an innovation course directed by Siddiqui, vice chair of neurosurgery at UB and a neurosurgeon with UBNS.
The meeting also featured the Hopkins Symposium in honor of L. Nelson “Nick” Hopkins, SUNY Distinguished Professor and former chair of UB Neurosurgery. Hopkins, one of the founding figures of endovascular treatment for neurovascular disorders, redefined the field of vascular neurosurgery in stroke management and lesion stenting. Hopkins’ innovations in endovascular surgery serve as the benchmark for therapeutic endovascular intervention. The symposium was dedicated to presentations by the mentees of Hopkins, including Levy, Siddiqui, and Ken Snyder and Jason Davies, both assistant professors of neurosurgery.
The CNS also announced at the meeting a new Pathway to Neurosurgery program, an initiative dedicated to alleviating health care disparities by encouraging high school students from underrepresented groups to pursue careers in neurosurgery or medicine.