Dr. Hussain Wins 2020 Apuzzo Award; Dr. Bander Takes Gaposchkin Research Award

At the resident graduation ceremony held Friday evening, Dr. Ibrahim Hussain was named winner of the 2020 Michael L. J. Apuzzo Resident Literature Award for Creativity and Innovation. Dr. Hussain, who is completing an enfolded fellowship in spinal neurosurgery this month,  won the award for “Transforaminal Endoscopic Lumbar Discectomy and Foraminotomy with Modified Radiofrequency Nerve Stimulator and Continuous Electromyography Under General Anesthesia,” which Dr. Apuzzo calls “an outstanding contribution to the peer-reviewed medical literature” in neurosurgery.

The paper, which was published in the May 2020 issue of World Neurosurgery, addresses a potential solution to one of the difficulties of transforaminal endoscopic lumbar approaches, which is the potential for injury to exiting and traversing nerve root during the dissection or cauterization of overlying tissues that is required for visualization during surgery. The authors report on 30 patients on whom they used a system they developed that uses a bipolar radiofrequency probe to stimulate nerves in conjunction with electromyography.

The study reports no postoperative sensorimotor deficits or dysesthesia, and none of the patients developed injury or pain related to nerve root dysfunction. None of the patients required subsequent lumbar surgery. The authors conclude that this new instrumentation and technique allowed accurate identification of the exiting and traversing nerve roots with minimal effect on the surgical procedure.

“This is a significant contribution to neurosurgery,” says Dr. Apuzzo. “It has the potential for making an impact on a wide variety of surgeries.”

The Apuzzo Award was established in 2017 to recognize outstanding work by a Weill Cornell Medicine neurosurgery resident that exemplifies original thinking and was published in a major peer-reviewed journal during the previous academic year. Previous winners include Dr. Brenton Pennicooke (2017), Dr. Link (2018), and Dr. Whitney Parker and Dr. Rapoport, who shared the 2019 prize. (See more about the Apuzzo Award)

Dr. Evan Bander, who is completing his fourth year of residency, was awarded the Christopher G. Gaposchkin Resident Research Award for Distinction in Scientific Inquiry in Neurological Surgery for “IDH Mutant Glioma: Metabolism and Microenvironment.” Dr. Bander has been conducting his post-doctoral research fellowship with Dr. Viviane Tabar, chair of neurosurgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. His work focuses on the exciting field of immunometabolism. He has begun to unravel how tumors can silence and suppress innate immune cell function, with a particular focus on the IDH mutant glioma tumor microenvironment.

The Gaposchkin Prize was established in 2014 in memory of Dr. Christopher Gaposchkin, who died three years after completing his neurosurgery residency at Weill Cornell in 1999. The award recognizes excellence in research by a neurosurgery resident. Previous winners have been Dr. Parker (2019 and 2018), Dr. Hilarie Tomasiewicz (2017), Dr. Brenton Pennicooke (2016), and Dr. Peter Morgenstern and Dr. Dmitri Sigounas (who shared the 2015 prize).

“As demonstrated by this year's nominees and winners,” said Dr. Jeffrey Greenfield, Vice Chair for Academic Affairs, “our focus at Weill Cornell Neurological Surgery remains innovation and creativity paired with translation into excellence in patient care. Both of this year’s winners have developed ideas that will continue to push the envelope in our care of patients with neurosurgical diseases of the brain and spine and we couldn't be more proud of our trainees for their achievements!”

The awards were announced and presented at the 2020 resident graduation celebration, which was held this year via Zoom. (See a slide show of the graduation)

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