Dr. Larsen Wins 2024 Gaposchkin Prize for Resident Research

Alexandra Giantini Larsen, MD, has been awarded the 2024 Christopher Gaposchkin ’99 Research Prize in Neurological Surgery. Dr. Larsen, who is completing her fifth year of the neurosurgery residency program, was honored for “Non-invasive diagnosis of brainstem gliomas in pediatric, adolescent, and young adult patients through cerebrospinal fluid cell-free DNA sequencing,” which she presented to her fellow residents and faculty members on June 13 as part of the resident graduation events.

The abstract, born of Dr. Larsen’s research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, had been presented at the Society for Neuro-Oncology’s 7th Biennial Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Research Conference in 2023 and published in the journal Neuro-oncology. Neurosurgical residents at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center also work at Memorial Sloan Kettering and participate in research and patient care there. Her paper describes the novel ability to diagnose and monitor certain brain tumors at a molecular level without the need for invasive surgery, an amazing advance in the field of molecular neuro-oncology.

“I’m so proud of Dr. Larsen’s achievements thus far in pediatric neuro-oncology," says Dr. Jeffrey Greenfield, vice chair for academic affairs and associate residency director as well as co-director of the Children's Brain Tumor Project "This paper is only a small part of her body of work in the field thus far. Her commitment to her research and improving outcomes for children with brain tumors is only matched by her devotion to her patients. Dr. Larsen is truly a model of the surgeon-scientist we are training here at Weill Cornell Medicine Neurological Surgery.”

The award-winning research was selected after a full morning of presentations from 10 neurosurgery residents as well as two medical students, an impressive roster that presented work on everything from the impact of “financial toxicity” in the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme to the effect of focused ultrasound on the developing brain to gene therapy-mediated neuroregeneration for cognitive impairment.

Resident Research Day is part of the residency graduation ritual, which also includes the Bronson Ray Lecture delivered the evening before the presentations. This year’s guest lecturer was Zoher Ghogawala, MD, FACS, chair of neurosurgery at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center and professor of neurosurgery at Tufts University School of Medicine. Dr. Ghogawala spoke on the topic of artificial intelligence and how it affects the ability to conduct clinical trials in neurosurgery.

The Christopher G. Gaposchkin Resident Research Award for Distinction in Scientific Inquiry in Neurological Surgery 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. Rafael Uribe (2023), Dr. Alexander Ramos (2022), Dr. Evan Bander (2020 and 2021)Dr. Whitney 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).

Also at the resident graduation dinner, Dr. Umberto Tosi was named winner of the 2024 Michael L. J. Apuzzo Resident Literature Award for Creativity and Innovation.



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