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Skull Base Brain Tumor Research

Fall 1999 Update
By Reza Jarrahy, M.D.

Current Research at the Skull Base Institute

I am pleased to report on the progress we have made in the Research Division of the Skull Base Institute this past year, and on some of the goals we hope to realize in the coming months.

Our Fourth Annual Skull Base Surgery Lectureship, to be held this autumn, will provide an optimum forum to share all of our experiences with colleagues from around the world.

The work we have done on pituitary transplantation has been well received. As you may recall, we devised a pilot study involving transplantation of human fetal pituitary cells into rats (described in an earlier edition of Headlines). Early success with this project prompted more extensive testing of the transplant model, culminating in our presentation of an abstract at the Annual Congress of the North American Skull Base Society. (The abstract was also published in a supplemental edition of the journal Skull Base Surgery.) We were recently granted approval by our Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee for large scale experimental trials implementing this model, and will present results from these efforts later this year.

As we reported earlier, Endoscopic Pituitary Surgery has become a reality at the Skull Base Institute. Moreover, endoscope-assisted skull base surgery in the posterior fossa (for acoustic neuroma surgery and microvascular decompression of cranial nerves) has also become part of our regular practice. Historically, surgeons have learned the complexities of the surgical anatomy of the skull base through cadaveric dissections. This tactic, however, does not adequately duplicate the realities we face in the operating room. The animal model we have proposed to the scientific community as a way of teaching endoscopic skull base surgery techniques under in vivo conditions has been embraced and published. This acceptance will benefit both patients and physicians.

Having introduced an animal teaching model, we will shortly publish results from our series of patients having received endoscopic surgery of the sella turcica and posterior fossa. Global literature addressing this work is limited; our contributions will therefore have immediate significance.

Our Fourth Annual Skull Base Surgery Lectureship, to be held this autumn at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, will provide an optimum forum to share all of our experiences with colleagues from around the world. Leaders in the field of skull base surgery from some of the most prominent medical centers in North America and Europe will be in attendance. We look forward to sharing the latest developments in our efforts with them and learning about current trends in skull base surgery in other parts of the world. The event promises to provide yet another opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved and where our future directions lie.

And speaking of the future, I would like to announce the arrivals of two new research fellows, Dr. Ronald Mathiasen and Dr. Sung Tae Cha. Dr. Mathiasen is currently completing his third year of general surgery residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and will join our staff for a year of research training at the start of the upcoming academic year. Dr. Cha is a visiting physician from South Korea, where he is currently in the midst of his training in otolaryngology and head and neck surgery. He will also be joining us for a year of research training in skull base surgery. We are all very excited to have them on board, as we are sure their unique experiences will contribute significantly to the productive environ-ment we have developed at the Skull Base Institute.