Research has always played a key role in shaping the clinical practice of the UCSF Department of Neurological Surgery. The current research program consists of over 25 principal investigators with a broad variety of research interests reflecting the full range of clinical and surgical activity in the Department. In 2005, the Division of Translational Research was created for the greater facilitation of collaborations between clinicians and scientists. So far it has been tremendously successful, allowing us to quickly move the most promising research into clinical trials.
The largest group of investigators comprises the UCSF Brain Tumor Research Center – an organization formed in 1975 and currently funded by over 30 NIH awards, including one of only four Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) awards for brain tumors from the National Cancer Institute. This group of investigators covers the full range of brain tumor investigation from clinical to basic and is focused on improving the diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors. Investigators with a specialized interest in pediatric brain tumors also reside within this group.
Another group of clinicians and scientists comprise the Brain and Spinal Injury Center. This multidisciplinary group of investigators studies brain and spinal cord injury caused by radiation or trauma, and their interests range from the biology of neural injury and repair to biomedical informatics and neurocritical care.
The third group of scientists is organized around the study of cerebrovascular disease, and focuses on understanding the basis for blood vessel malformations in the brain and on developing better therapies for these abnormalities.
A fourth group of investigators is organized around the study of epilepsy and movement disorders. These investigators study the underlying basis for epileptic seizures and have also made significant advances in the use of deep brain stimulation and viral-based therapies for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
Finally, clinical research for neurospinal disorders is conducted by neurosurgeons who specialize in treating degenerative disc disease, spinal tumors, scoliosis, adult spinal deformity, and severe back pain. There is also a neurospinal biomechanics laboratory, which focuses on testing of novel reconstruction methods for tumor resection and deformity correction surgery.
The Department of Neurological Surgery currently houses over 100 basic scientists whose work is not only well-funded and nationally recognized, but also is attune to the clinical implications of the science. This outstanding group of investigators is a driving force in our efforts to understand the many disorders of the central nervous system.