On July 25th and 26th, in Bethesda, MD, the Hydrocephalus Association Network for Discovery Science (HANDS) convened an international workshop on Posthemorrhagic Hydrocephalus (PHH). Hosted by NIH, the workshop brought together a diverse group of researchers including pediatric neurosurgeons, neurologists, and neuropsychologists, with scientists in the fields of brain injury and development, cerebrospinal fluid dynamics, and fluid barriers in the brain. Response to the workshop has been overwhelming.
“By getting such a variety of people together with diverse expertise in a contained environment, this workshop in 2 days likely advanced the science towards transforming the field more than anything else in the past 20 years,” wrote Dr. Shenandoah Robinson, a pediatric neurosurgeon from Johns Hopkins University.
Presentations covered a wide-range of promising research. Praveen Ballabh, MD, a professor at New York Medical College, spoke about his research which attempts to understand the vulnerability of blood vessels and why they become damaged. Insight into why the blood vessels of infants, especially those who are preterm, are particularly susceptible to damage opens the possibility for research on preventative interventions for hemorrhage.
Stephen A. Back, MD, PhD, of Oregon Health & Science University, and Joseph Scafidi, DO, of Children’s National Medical Center, both gave talks on the repair of white matter. White matter is responsible for relaying information between brain areas and other parts of the nervous system. Damage to white matter cuts off or limits this communication. The repair of white matter could reverse the adverse effects caused by the initial injury to the brain.
Joanne Conover, PhD, of the University of Connecticut, spoke about the consequences of hemorrhage on brain development; this research may lead to a better understanding of why children with PHH often have cognitive issues. However, we may be in control of some external factors that can improve quality of life. Neuropsychologist H. Gerry Taylor, PhD, of Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, discussed how environmental factors play a role in neurobehavioral outcomes and how healthy parent-child relationships might improve a child’s long term outlook.
“We are thrilled with the collaborations that emerged from our post hemorrhagic hydrocephalus workshop that concluded this week. The HA Network for Discovery Science has provided a great platform to engage scientists from a broad range of fields to apply their work to hydrocephalus. We want to thank NIH for not only hosting our meeting but also helping shape such a rich agenda of impactful research,” stated Paul Gross, co-chair of the HA Research Committee and co-founder of the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network.
The new scientific developments are incredibly exciting and seeing the progress on our research agenda was very rewarding. Our efforts to foster new collaborations through the HA Network for Discovery Science were well received by the breadth of scientists who attended the meeting. The potential to alter the course of PHH was palpable. We look forward to seeing interesting and promising research emerge from collaborations among this diverse group of scientists.