Meet our Conference Team!

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Meet the 15th National Conference on Hydrocephalus Program Planning Committee!

The Hydrocephalus Association (HA) is pleased to announce some of the brightest minds in the field who are generously offering their time, expertise and talent in planning the 15th National Conference on Hydrocephalus held June 28-30, 2018 in Orange County, CA at the Irvine Marriott.

Each conference is planned with the guidance and input of our Medical Co-Chairs, Local Co-Hosts and HA volunteers. Working with HA staff, our program planning committee develop the agenda, brainstorm new conference sessions based on the support inquiries we receive throughout the year, identify world-renowned experts and scientists to educate and update our community on the latest treatment methods and advances in hydrocephalus research. We are honored to have enlisted such a robust program planning committee.

Last but not least, planning HACONNECT would not be possible without the HA staff steam. Special thanks to the following who have kept the volunteer committee engaged, inspired and on track: Jennifer Bechard, Education Manager and David Roberts, Director, Support and Education.

Medical Co-Chairs

Marion L. Walker, MD

Emeritus Professor of Neurological Surgery
University of Utah Health Sciences Center
Chair, HA Medical Advisory Board
Member, HA Board of Directors

Dr. Marion Walker was recruited to the University of Utah in 1976, where he established the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery. He built the pediatric neurosurgical service into one of the busiest in North America. He currently
is an Emeritus Professor of Neurosurgery in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Utah.

Walker has a distinguished career in neurosurgery and has been invited
as a Visiting Professor to numerous centers around the world. He has been instrumental in the development of pediatric neurosurgery as a subspecialty. Walker has been the President of the Joint Section of Pediatric Neurosurgery, the President of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgery (ASPN),
and the President of the International Society of Pediatric Neurosurgery (ISPN). He is a founding member
 of the American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery and has served as Chairman. He has made seminal academic contributions in many areas of pediatric neurosurgery, especially
in hydrocephalus. He has served on the editorial board of multiple journals, including Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics. He recently served as Chairman of the Accreditation Council for Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowships.

Walker’s passion for the Hydrocephalus Association comes from the many children with hydrocephalus he has treated during his career and the often heartbreaking nature of the condition. He has played an integral role in the Hydrocephalus Association’s establishment of its hydrocephalus research program, which he credits
for re-energizing him. He believes
the association is headed in the
right direction to make significant improvements in the treatment and long term management of hydrocephalus, with a goal to cure the condition.

Michael A. Williams, MD

Professor
Departments of Neurology and Neurological Surgery
University of Washington School of Medicine
Seattle, WA
Vice Chair, HA Medical Advisory Board
Member, HA Board of Directors
Founding member, Adult Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (AHCRN)

Dr. Michael Williams is Professor of Neurology and Neurological Surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He received his medical degree and neurology training at Indiana University Medical Center, finishing in 1989. After a fellowship in Neurosciences Critical Care at Johns Hopkins Hospital, he joined the Department of Neurology faculty in 1991, where he was an NCCU attending physician and also established the Adult Hydrocephalus Center. He moved to Sinai Hospital in 2007 to become Medical Director of the Brain & Spine Institute, where he also established and direct their Adult Hydrocephalus Program. In 2016, he moved to the University of Washington, where he established a center for Adult & Transitional Hydrocephalus and CSF Disorders.

Dr. Williams co-chaired the first-ever NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Workshop on hydrocephalus in 2005. In 2008, he helped to create the International Society for Hydrocephalus and CSF Disorders (ISHCSF), and was the 3rd president of the society. He also is a member of the Scientific Advisory Panel to the Intracranial Hypertension Research Foundation. He is actively involved in patient advocacy with the Hydrocephalus Association, is a member of the Medical Advisory Board, and one of the founding members of the AHCRN. Most of our community knows Dr. Williams as a welcoming Medical Co-Chair of our 2006, 2012, 2014, and 2016 biennial national conferences.

Local Co-Hosts

Jefferson W. Chen, MD

Neurological Surgeon
Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs
Director of Neurotrauma
Department of Neurological Surgery
University of California, Irvine

Dr. Jefferson W. Chen is a neurosurgeon and is currently the Vice chairman of Clinical Affairs and Director of NeuroTrauma at The University of California, Irvine.  His clinical interests and clinical research are in normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH). He has organized and spearheaded the Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus support group in Orange County.

J. Gordon McComb, MD

Professor of Neurological Surgery
University of Southern California/Keck School 
of Medicine
Chief Emeritus of the Division of Neurosurgery
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA)
Member, HA Medical Advisory Board

Dr. J. Gordon McComb is Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of Southern California/Keck School
of Medicine and Chief Emeritus of the Division of Neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA).

He graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, in 1961, with a degree in Chemical Engineering. He then earned his medical degree from the University of Miami in 1965, followed by a surgical internship at UCLA. Next, he did a year of pediatric residency at CHLA before going on active duty with the US Air Force, where he spent two years in a Vietnamese hospital attending to pediatric and adult civilian patients, many of who were casualties of the
war. His neurosurgical residency was at Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, a program completed in 1973.

Upon completion of his residency,
 he traveled to University College
 of London, London, England for
 a fellowship in the Department of Physiology, working with Hugh Davson, a noted physiologist, investigating the pathophysiology of hydrocephalus, a research and clinical interest he has maintained throughout his career. Following the fellowship, he returned to CHLA, where he has remained ever since.

He has published hundreds of 
clinical and basic research papers, book chapters and abstracts that
 have advanced the diagnosis and treatment of infants and children with neurosurgical disorders. His basic research interests continue to focus on CSF physiology, the patho-physiology of hydrocephalus and the nature of the blood-brain-barrier.

Michael G. Muhonen, MD

Division Chief of Neurosurgery
Director of the Neuroscience Institute
Children’s Hospital of Orange County
President, Hydrocephalus Foundation,
Medical Advisory Board

Dr. Michael G. Muhonen did his neurosurgical training at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He is the Division chief of Neurosurgery and the Director of the Neuroscience Institute at Children’s Hospital of Orange county.  Dr. Muhonen has had a career-long interest in treating hydrocephalus, and served as president of the medical advisory board for the Hydrocephalus Foundation for over 10 years.

Volunteers

Cathy C. Cartwright, APRN

Director of Advanced Practice Education
Children’s Mercy Kansas City
Member, HA Medical Advisory Board

Cathy Cartwright has 20 years experience as a Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist in Neurosurgery and is presently the Director of Advanced Practice Education at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.  She has been caring for children with hydrocephalus and their families for many years and is a member of the Hydrocephalus Association Medical Advisory Board.

Pam Finlayson

Member, HA Board of Directors

Pam Finlayson has been involved in the hydrocephalus community for over 30 years, since her daughter Kate acquired the condition following a brain hemorrhage suffered as a premature infant.  During Kate’s lifetime (in which she endured over 130 surgeries to combat her hydrocephalus), Pam became familiar with the wide-ranging challenges with which families and patients affected by hydrocephalus must struggle–from ever-changing medical, developmental, physical and educational needs, to the difficulty of simply finding appropriate information, treatment and support when dealing with a poorly understood, yet life-threatening, condition.

Along with her two adult sons, Peter and Sam, Pam helped organize and currently serves as an officer for Team Hydro, a dedicated group of swimmers, on-land supporters, and  volunteers with a mission to raise the awareness and funds to support the research required to understand, develop better treatment options — and ultimately find a cure — for hydrocephalus.  Team Hydro has organized and inspired hundreds of swimmers, most of whom had never previously heard of hydrocephalus, from ages 4 to 72, and proficiency levels ranging from beginners with kickboards to NCAA champions and Olympic athletes,  to become impassioned enough with the Cause to get in the water and swim in support of hydrocephalus awareness and research!! Founded in 2008, Team Hydro has sought to promote and financially support the Hydrocephalus Association’s Research efforts by organizing Team Hydro’s participation in mostly swim related events, including annual open water swims from Alcatraz to San Francisco, and across the Boston Harbor.  Team Hydro also co-sponsors  Swim for Hydrocephalus Events with school-age group swim teams from across the U.S.,  including California, Georgia, and Maryland.  Team Hydro events not only raise funds for research, but generate awareness and provide education regarding Hydrocephalus to all those involved. A favorite and always inspiring Team Hydro tradition allows each swimmer to receive the personal story of a hydrocephalus patient (living or in memoriam) to help personalize and instill empathy for the tremendous challenges of this poorly understood condition–swimmers then dedicate his or her swim in honor of that patient.  Since its founding, Team Hydro has raised almost 3/4 million dollars for the cause— 100% of which (thanks to private funding which underwrites all expenses), has gone directly to fund research for a cure!

Pam has been a devoted vocal advocate for all hydrocephalus patients and has spoken to school, church, medical, and community groups on issues relating to the condition. In 2012, she was invited to speak at the Republican National Convention, sharing her story with millions of households across the nation.  A former math and science teacher, Pam also currently volunteers her time as a mentor for high school students in the under-served community of Richmond in the San Francisco bay area.   Pam is honored to be a member of the Hydrocephalus Association Board and is passionate about working to ensure that every patient (and family) has access to the information, treatment, and support they need to live meaningful and productive lives while living with the challenges of hydrocephalus.

SarahAnn S. Whitbeck, MBA, CHCP

Co-Chair
Salt Lake City WALK to End Hydrocephalus

SarahAnn S. Whitbeck, MBA, CHCP is recognized as a leader in healthcare education.  In 2015 she was awarded Healthcare Educator of the Year by Utah Business, and in 2016 received the Governor’s Award for her efforts in helping to lead the provider education efforts in the Opioid Community Collaborative.

She is the co-founder and current Executive Director of the Chest Wall Injury Society, which is focused on the common interests of those persons and entities involved in the science of chest wall injury and surgical stabilization of rib fractures.  As part of this role, she has developed the operational functions of the society, grown and supported membership, and facilitated their annual education summit meetings with surgeons from 12 countries spread across 5 continents.

She volunteers for the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions and serves as the Chair of the Membership Committee.  She is also part of the University of Utah Business Alumni Association Board of Directors.​

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