Announcing the Hydrocepahlus Association’s 2022 Innovator Award Recipients


An unprecedented 10 Innovator Awards go out to scientists for their exciting research.

Despite our limited understanding of the causes of hydrocephalus and the most effective ways to treat it in different communities, the 2022 Innovator Award recipients aim to bring about change. They are investigating novel aspects about the development of hydrocephalus and evaluating innovative treatments to enhance long-term results. Additionally, we have expanded our scope to fund research aligned with our published Community Research Priorities to include improving access to care and reducing the burden of current treatments

Dr. Ramin Eskandari is an Associate Professor of Neurosurgery and the chief of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC.  His proposed study is focused on developing a new drug, PSel-Crry 2.3, that targets P-selectin/C3complement at the site of injury to reduce (post hemorrhagic hydrocephalus) PHH and neuroinflammation, leading to improved functional recovery in a hydrocephalus model. The successful outcome of the study will provide insights into the complement system’s role in PHH and advance the field of medical therapeutics for PHH.  Thank you to Team Hydro for their generous support of this grant.

Dr. Ryann Fame is an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford University. Her proposed research aims to understand the impact of hydrocephalus-associated genes on neural progenitors during early brain development and how it affects cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) volume and regulation. The outcome of this research will be the discovery of how these genes impact the brain, understanding the relationship between disrupting neural progenitors and CSF volume, and the identification of candidate CSF biomarkers for hydrocephalus prodrome.

Dr. Gabriel Haller is an Associate Professor at Washington University in St. Louis. His proposed study aims to generate a detailed molecular landscape of hydrocephalus and understand the complex genetic architecture that causes it. The goal is to use human multi-omic data to shed light on the pathological events leading to hydrocephalus and to identify novel molecular biomarkers and drug targets to improve patient outcomes. Thank you to Team Hydro for their generous support of this grant.

Dr. Carolyn Harris is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at Wayne State University. One of her projects aims to reduce shunt obstruction in hydrocephalus patients by developing functional surface microstructures on the catheter surface to reduce astrocyte adhesion and periventricular tissue pull-in. The project uses soft lithography, computational fluid dynamics simulations, and benchtop simulation to validate the reduction of shear, pull-in and astrocyte attachment and proliferation.

Another project, supported by Team Hydro, aims to create an in vitro tool for molecular biologists and drug designers to study the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) production process and fast-track pharmaceutical drug development. Her microfluidic model of the choroid plexus is used to track changes in CSF secretion with the long-term goal of improving hydrocephalus treatment through pharmaceutical strategies.

Lastly, funded by the Rudi Schulte Research Institute (RSRI), she aims to create an in vitro tool for molecular biologists and drug designers to study the CSF production process and fast-track pharmaceutical drug development.

This project also aims to create a computational fluid dynamic model of patient-specific 3D ventricles from MRIs and test the change of CSF dynamics pre and post shunt placement to predict potential ventricular system collapse, effect of shunt and ependymal wall contact dynamics, and test mechanical shunt prototype improvements.

The long-term goal is to improve the predictive capabilities of sudden and transient ventricular failure for preemptive care by creating a first ever model that can be used to test ventricular catheters in patient-specific physiological and morphological conditions.

Dr. Olufemi Idowu is a Consultant Neurosurgeon in the Division of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, and professor at Lagos State University. His project aims to study the barriers to early diagnosis and treatment of childhood hydrocephalus in low medium income countries through quantitative and qualitative analyses. The goal is to guide policies that will improve access to neurosurgical services and decrease morbidity in patients with childhood hydrocephalus, especially in resource-challenged countries.

Dr. Maria Lehtinen is a professor at Boston Children’s Hospital. Her proposed research aims to explore the role of an enzyme secreted by the choroid plexus in guiding oligodendrocyte maturation and myelination in the developing brain in response to intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) and hydrocephalus. If successful, this study could lead to the identification of a new therapeutic path for IVH and hydrocephalus.

Dr. James ‘Pat’ McAllister is a professor at the Washington University in St. Louis. His proposal aims to study key cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in neuroinflammation associated with pediatric hydrocephalus through animal models and various neuroimaging techniques. His goal is to identify pharmacological targets, develop novel surgical and bioengineering treatments, and explore strategies for neuroprotection and functional recovery. Thank you to Team Hydro for their generous support of this grant.

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 $25,000 or $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 The Rudi Schulte Research Institute (RSRI) and Team Hydro for their generous support. Collectively, we were able to fund 10 Innovator Awards.

Research We Fund

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