HA would like extend a hearty congratulations to Dr. Benjamin Warf, associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and director of the Neonatal and Congenital Anomaly Neurosurgery Program at Children’s Hospital Boston, for being named a 2012 MacArthur Foundation Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The fellowship rewards individuals for their “extraordinary originality and dedication” to their field of work. In this case, Dr. Warf is recognized for his outstanding work developing new treatments for hydrocephalus while living in Uganda.
Many of you will remember Dr. Warf as the inspirational Keynote Speaker at our 12th National Conference. Dr. Warf shared the story of developing a treatment for hydrocephalus that would reduce the problems associated with shunting Ugandan children, given the challenging environment for medical care in that country. In an economically depressed environment with medical clinics few and far between the villages settled within a vast rural landscape, children with hydrocephalus faced the impossible obstacle of receiving an initial shunt placement and, when needed, revision surgery should the shunt fail. Families often live days away from a medical facility with neurological capabilities.
Knowing that these families needed a treatment option that required less intervention and dependency on a medical device, Dr. Warf developed a novel treatment for hydrocephalus that combined a less common treatment called endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) with another procedure called choroid plexus cauterization (CPC ). Previous attempts at using the ETV procedure alone in infants was not proving effective. This combination greatly increased the success rate of the ETV procedure in treating a broad range of children. His innovation eliminates the need for a shunt thereby reducing complications for kids that cannot seek care in a timely fashion.
In addition to being named as a prestigious MacArthur Fellow, the MacArthur award provides Dr. Warf with a $500,000 grant over five years to advance his research. The grant has few restrictions on how he applies those funds.
In separate but related news, Dr. Warf received an NIH grant last month to enable the hospital in Uganda to build the capability for a clinical trial involving his new technique and to test the efficacy and neurological outcomes using ETV/CPC.
The Hydrocephalus Association congratulates Dr. Warf on his awards and recognition for his great work. We look forward to seeing his work’s impact on current practice for hydrocephalus.