Basic Research

Basic Research

A collaborative, multidisciplinary program of basic science research in the Department of Neurological Surgery has helped us develop pioneering breakthroughs in understanding disorders of the brain and spine.

Neurogenetics Collaboration

The Department of Neurological Surgery has expanded our basic research program in close collaboration with the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. By creating an “incubator lab” for young neurosurgery faculty, we facilitate cross-disciplinary projects and mentorship opportunities. Under this program, William J. Mack, MD, completed a National Institutes of Health (NIH) KL2 project and recently secured a $2.1 million RO1 grant from the NIH to study environmental factors in cerebrovascular disease. This study takes stroke and cerebrovascular disease research into an entirely new direction and has resulted in Mack being recognized as an Outstanding New Environmental Scientist by the NIH.

For more information: http://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/william.mack

Glioma Research Group

Thomas Chen, MD, PhD, oversees the Glioma Research Group, an alliance of USC laboratories dedicated to developing treatments for central nervous system tumors. By combining the expertise of specialists in cellular and molecular biology, radiation and surgical treatments of gliomas, the Glioma Research Group is a multidisciplinary unit uniquely suited to pursuing new treatments for this devastating disease.

For more information: http://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/thomas.chen

Targeting AVMs

Steven L. Giannotta, MD, Florence Hofman, PhD, and Charles Liu, MD, PhD, maintain a vigorous research program studying the angiogenic properties of human endothelial cells from brain arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). They have created a viral vector to deliver molecular biologically active anti-tumor moieties. Neurosurgical residents, as well as medical students, have taken on important roles in these efforts, generating posters, podium presentations, abstracts and manuscripts.

For more information:
http://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/steven.giannotta,
http://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/florence.hofman,
http://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/charles.liu

Protein Chemistry

Charles Liu, MD, PhD, works in close collaboration with colleagues at the California Institute of Technology in an active protein chemistry lab, where the team is studying ways to manipulate matrix proteins to determine the physiologic and morphologic fate of neural stem cells.

For more information: http://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/charles.liu

Skull Base and Spinal Anatomy Skills Center

The departments of Neurosurgery and Neuropathology have joined resources to form a neuroanatomy dissection laboratory at LAC+USC Medical Center for teaching surgical anatomy and performing research in cranial and spinal anatomy. Both departments are dedicated to focused training of young residents in neuroanatomy and development and maintenance of exceptional surgical skills. The skills center has stimulated novel research with this collaborative effort.

Tumor Microenvironment

Josh Neman, PhD current research investigates the biology and tumor microenvironment of medulloblastoma (the most lethal pediatric brain tumor) and breast to brain metastatic tumors. Dr. Neman’s expertise and strengths in stem cell biology and neuroscience have allowed him to develop novel molecular, cellular, and systems approach to study the interaction between the brain and cancer cells –a bidirectional interplay poorly understood. Furthermore, Dr. Neman’s overall research goals are to 1) innovatively enhance and exploit the tumor-brain microenvironment, 2) identify the cellular roots of treatment failure and 3) test agents to selectively attack the resistant cells, in order to better treat patients with brain tumors.

For more information: http://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/yousha.ebrahim

Pituitary Tumors

Gabriel Zada, MD is the Co-director of USC Pituitary Center and Direct of Endoscopic Skull Base Surgery Program. He has a keen clinical and academic interest in brain and skull base tumor surgery, and has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles on various neurosurgical topics, mostly relating to brain and pituitary tumors as well as endoscopic skull base surgery. Dr. Zada’s research interests are on the role of epigenetic modification in pituitary adenomas and their role in tumorigenesis and progression.

For more information: http://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/gabriel.zada