Announcing the 2023 Hydrocephalus Association Innovator Award Recipients

In medical research, innovation is the catalyst for change, the driving force behind medical breakthroughs that transform lives. At the heart of this innovation are dedicated individuals and teams tirelessly working to make a difference. Today, we are thrilled to shine a spotlight on those remarkable individuals who have been selected as the recipients of the 2023 Hydrocephalus Association Innovator Awards.

Awards That Drive Progress

The Hydrocephalus Innovator Awards are a testament to the spirit of innovation within the scientific and medical community. They provide a platform for visionaries to turn their groundbreaking ideas into reality, offering the crucial seed funding and support needed to bring these innovations to life.

This year, we received a multitude of exceptional submissions from across the globe. These submissions were rigorously evaluated by a panel of experts who evaluated alignment with the Hydrocephalus Community Research Priorities, potential for transformative impact, and the promise of improving the lives of those affected by hydrocephalus.


Meet the 2023 Innovator Award Recipients


Tim Cherry, PhD

The MicroMRNA, MIR9 as a Network Regulator in Hydrocephalus.

Dr. Tim Cherry is an assistant professor of pediatrics in the Division of Genetic Medicine at the University of Washington. His study entitled “The MicroMRNA MIR9 as a Network Regulator in Hydrocephalus”, is driven by state-of-the-art spatial and single-cell transcriptomic methodologies. This research aims to illuminate the pivotal role of MIR9 as a master regulator within the intricate network of hydrocephalus-risk factors.



Maria Lehtinen, PhD

Cellular and Molecular Characterization of Human and Porcine Choroid Plexus to Study Post-Hemorrhagic Hydrocephalus (PHH).

Dr. Maria Lehtinen is a professor of pathology at Boston Children’s Hospital. Her study entitled “Cellular and Molecular Characterization of Human and Porcine Choroid Plexus to study Post-Hemorrhagic Hydrocephalus (PHH)” delves into intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH), a leading cause of hydrocephalus. Dr. Lehtinen’s work focuses on the choroid plexus (ChP) and its role as a first responder to intraventricular blood, a key factor in the development of hydrocephalus. This paves the way for novel therapies.



Mercedeh Movassagh, PhD
Dr. Mercedeh Movassagh is an assistant research professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Yale University. Her study entitled “Improving neonatal hydrocephalus diagnosis, treatment, and prevention through metagenomics and genetic characterization in Ugandan cohorts.” aims to leverage RNA sequencing to identify pathogens in the infant hydrocephalus cases, and characterize the infant hydrocephalus genetic variants in Uganda.





Ronald Parchem, PhD

MicroRNA Regulation of Neural Fate Specification in Congenital Hydrocephalus.

Dr. Ronald Parchem is an associate professor of molecular and cellular biology at Baylor College of Medicine. His study entitled “Unraveling the Role of MicroRNA in Shaping Neural Fate during Congenital Hydrocephalus,” investigates how neuroepithelial fate specification causes congenital hydrocephalus. His study strategy provides us with a unique opportunity to investigate how impaired differentiation during early brain development contributes to congenital hydrocephalus.


Andreas Rauschecker, MD, PhD

Automated Volumetric Measurements for Early Diagnosis and Identification of Fetal Hydrocephalus Requiring Intervention.

Dr. Andreas Rauchecker is an assistant professor at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Dr. Rauchecker’s study entitled “Automated Volumetric Measurements for Early Diagnosis and Identification of Fetal Hydrocephalus Requiring Intervention” is driven by the power of automated deep learning-based segmentation techniques. His proposal seeks to revolutionize the measurement of ventricular volumes and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) spaces across diverse fetal populations. This approach will help reshape the approach to early surgical intervention for fetal hydrocephalus.


Jennifer M. Strahle, MD

Amniotic fluid and CSF Factors Responsible for Hydrocephalus and Altered Brain Development in Myelomeningocele.

Dr. Jennifer M. Strahle is an associate professor of neurological surgery at Washington University in St. Louis. Her study is entitled “Amniotic fluid and CSF Factors Responsible for Hydrocephalus and Altered Brain Development in Myelomeningocele (MMC)”. This study aims to determine the role of amniotic fluid in ventricular expansion and CSF flow in the development of hydrocephalus, with identification of specific targets to interrupt the pathogenesis of hydrocephalus in children with MMC.


Jonathan R. Sukovich, PhD

Histotripsy for the Treatment of Hydrocephalus.

Dr. Jonathan R. Sukovich is an assistant research scientist (faculty role) of biomedical engineering at University of Michigan. His study entitled “Histotripsy for the Treatment of Hydrocephalus” will test the feasibility of using histotripsy, an ultrasound method to perform non-invasive treatments. He believes that histotripsy has the potential to meet the need for incisionless, non-invasive surgical treatments for hydrocephalus, such as ETVs, choroid plexus lesionectomies, and clearing ventriculostomy tubing.


The Future of Hydrocephalus Research

The projects undertaken by these exceptional innovators cover a wide range of research priorities, including improving diagnostic methods, understanding root causes of hydrocephalus, finding drug therapy targets, and testing non-invasive therapies. Their work reflects not only the diversity of ideas within the field but also the dedication to solving complex challenges.

We believe that the work of these innovators has the potential to redefine the landscape of hydrocephalus treatment and care. Their passion, creativity, and unwavering commitment are beacons of hope for the hydrocephalus community.

Join Us in Celebrating

As we celebrate the achievements of these outstanding individuals, we also extend our gratitude to everyone who submitted their projects. Your dedication to hydrocephalus research is invaluable, and we encourage you to continue pursuing your innovative ideas.

Stay connected with us for updates on the progress of the award-winning projects. Innovation is the driving force behind progress, and together, we can create a brighter future for those living with hydrocephalus.


The Innovator Award is designed to provide seed funding for bold and innovative research with the potential to transform hydrocephalus research. Emphasis is placed on innovation and the potential impact of the project on hydrocephalus research and clinical outcomes. The Innovator Awards are for one year of support at a $50,000 level. These awards further the Hydrocephalus Association’s mission to find a cure for hydrocephalus and improve the lives of those impacted by the condition.

The Hydrocephalus Association would like to extend a thank you to  Team Hydro for their generous support. Collectively, we were able to fund 6 Innovator Awards.

Research We Fund

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