From the Chair

Greetings, and Welcome to the Spring 2019 AANS/CNS Section on Tumors Newsletter

Dear Colleagues:

As we look forward to gathering again at the 2019 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting in San Diego, this is a great opportunity to reflect upon recent accomplishments and anticipated developments for our Section. It was the first professional organization devoted to the study and treatment of brain tumors when it was founded in December of 1984 and has since grown to over 2300 members.

Dr. Manish K. Aghi

The Section wrapped up 2018 in grand fashion with our 13th biennial satellite symposium in Houston on October 5-6 organized by scientific co-chairs Jeff Weinberg, MD, FAANS, and Isaac Yang, MD, FAANS. The symposium featured an inspiring keynote lecture from NASA Astronaut Gregory Reid Wiseman about the technology and communication advancements needed to explore space. The scientific content included three dedicated thematic sessions on brain tumor technologies, big data applications to brain tumors and immunotherapy. For younger attendees, the symposia had three breakout sessions on starting one’s career. And, of course, top scoring oral abstracts and posters were presented. Our Friday evening gala was a chance to gather to honor lifetime achievement awardees with the Charles B. Wilson Award for lifetime achievement in neurosurgical oncology (presented to Nino Chiocca, MD, PhD, FAANS), the Rosenblum Distinguished Service Award (presented to Susan Chang, MD) and the Andy Parsa Mentorship Award (presented to Henry Brem, MD, FAANS). On Saturday, October 6, the meeting transitioned into a symposium honoring the career of Ray Sawaya, MD, FAANS, who chaired the neurosurgery department at MD Anderson since its establishment in 1990, until this year. The 2018 satellite symposium was our best-attended satellite symposium yet, with over 200 attendees and revenue exceeding projections. Besides being the engine that drives many goals of the Section, the Tumor Satellite Symposium remains one of our most important initiatives, as it represents the pre-eminent opportunity for our membership to gather and learn about the latest technologies that sponsors have to offer for tumor neurosurgeons and to hear about the latest clinical and scientific breakthroughs in the world of tumor neurosurgery. As such, we are thrilled to announce that the 14th biennial satellite symposia will occur in Miami ahead of the 2020 CNS annual meeting.

Following the Satellite Symposium, the Tumor Section hosted an outstanding program for the 2018 CNS Annual Meeting, under the direction of Scientific Program Chairs Gordon Li, MD, FAANS, and Seunggu Han, MD, (see full report), including scientific sessions featuring two main themes: Contemporary Management of Incidentally Discovered Tumors and Technological Advances in Adjuncts to Brain Tumor Surgery. The program also included tumor-focused content in popular sessions recently developed by the CNS, including two interactive breakout sessions with a case-based review format and a Guidelines session.

Looking forward, I am thrilled to have invited Linda Liau, MD, PhD, MBA, FAANS, chair at UCLA, to deliver the Ronald L. Bittner Lecture at the AANS Annual Scientific Meeting on Monday, April 15, 2019, in San Diego. An outstanding scientific program for this meeting has also been developed by Mike Ivan, MD, and Dan Orringer, MD, FAANS, (see full report) which will include symposia on meningiomas and optimizing surgical outcomes in glioma surgery and precision medicine for meningiomas.

Our awards program, led by Isabelle Germano, MD, FAANS, (see full report) remains robust, including expansion of the Leksell Radiosurgery Award from a yearly award given at the AANS Annual Scientific Meeting, to an award given at both the AANS and CNS meetings. The winners of these awards and links to the award-winning abstracts have been incorporated into our highly informative Section website, which continues to be run at a high level by Jeff Weinberg, MD, FAANS, including working towards enabling providers to submit cases on our website for expert review.

In parallel with these abstract awards, we also have a robust annual research grant program. The 2019-20 recipients of these grants, administered through the NREF, are:

  • The Parsa Research Grant went to Benjamin Himes, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, who will be working in the lab of Ian Parney, MD, PhD, FAANS;
  • The B*Cured Sponsored Research Grant went to Christina Jackson, MD, who will be working in the lab of Drew Pardoll, MD, PhD; and
  • The Tumor Section Sponsored Research Grant went to Farshad Nassiri, MD, of the University of Toronto, who will be working in the lab of Gelareh Zadeh, MD, PhD, FAANS.

We are thrilled that the NREF Honor Your Mentor Fund created for Charlie Wilson, MD, FAANS(L), has reached sufficient size so that we can use these funds to honor outstanding achievements in neurosurgical oncology. Dr. Wilson, who passed away earlier this year, was the past chair of my department at UCSF and a mentor to generations of neurosurgical oncologists. Our next NREF fundraising goal is to ensure that the NREF Honor Your Mentor Fund created for Jim Rutka, MD, PhD, FAANS, reaches sufficient size to enable it to reward neurosurgical oncology research. Dr. Rutka is chair of the neurosurgery department at University of Toronto and current editor of the Journal of Neurosurgery. I would also like to thank Orin Bloch, MD, FAANS, for all his work on the Parsa Research Grant and Parsa Mentorship Awards, which honor the legacy of Andy Parsa, MD, PhD, FAANS, who tragically passed away in 2015 shortly before he would become chair of the Section.

Just as the treatment of CNS cancers is multidisciplinary in nature, so too should our Section strive to foster collaboration with our societies in other disciplines related to CNS tumors. For years, we have done this with Society for Neuro-Oncology and now I have asked Rohan Ramakrishna, MD FAANS, to serve a similar role in building our relationships with American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and the Radiosurgery Society (RSS).

As has occurred with many academic organizations, the Tumor Section has seen a rise in people seeking to generate data via membership surveys. We have sought to formalize the process by which surveys are sent to our members and how data is collected from these through a committee (Dr. Ramakrishna, Jonathan Sherman, MD, FAANS, and Chetan Bettegowda, MD, FAANS) that screens these surveys and makes suggested edits before they are sent to our members, ensuring that they generate the most robust data possible. A survey on the frequency with which cases are referred for definitive resection after biopsy was already launched through this committee by Costas Hadjipanayis, MD, PhD, FAANS. Please be on the lookout for other important membership surveys on language mapping, midline gliomas and hospice, which will help guide the course of our field through guidelines and best practice paradigm development.

Our international committee, led by Ric Komotar, MD, FAANS (see report) continues to grow our partnerships outside the U.S. These efforts include expanding our international observership programs to enable neurosurgeons from developing countries to observe tumor surgeries at major American centers. Dr. Komotar spearheaded this effort in Argentina through industry support, enabling Alexis Morell, MD, the first awardee of the International Observership Program, to observe 250 brain tumor surgeries during a three month experience in the Brain Tumor Program of the University of Miami. Clark Chen, MD, PhD, FAANS, is making similar efforts to establish an observership program with China.

These are just some examples of the outstanding work being done by the members of our Executive Committee, whose articles can be found throughout this newsletter. As you can see, this is an exciting time in neurosurgical oncology and for the AANS/CNS Section on Tumors. I hope you enjoy this newsletter and look forward to seeing you at the AANS Annual Scientific Meeting in San Diego. For the latest details on Tumor Section activities and for information on becoming a member, please visit our website at


Manish K. Aghi, MD, PhD, FAANS
Chair, Section on Tumors