The week before the start of Hydrocephalus Awareness Month, a big milestone passed quietly over the prior weekend – the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) turned 10 years old. The seeds for the creation of HCRN were sewn during the first National Institutes of Health (NIH) Workshop on hydrocephalus in September 2005, when the network co-founders, Dr. John Kestle and philanthropist Paul Gross, met during a breakout session. Gross subsequently engaged John Smith and his teammates at the University of Washington Executive MBA program to write a business plan, which was completed in June 2006. Two months later, Dr. Kestle hosted Dr. Jerry Oakes of Children’s of Alabama and Dr. James Drake of SickKids for the inaugural meeting of HCRN. Ironically, Gross could not attend the meeting because his 18-month old son had an emergency shunt surgery just prior to the meeting’s start.
Fast forward 10 years and HCRN has 14 centers representing more than 30 neurosurgeons that span North America, published 14 papers in peer reviewed journals, reduced post surgical infection rates by more than 35% and set the standard for clinical research in neurosurgery. The group meets bi-weekly by teleconference and face-to-face biannually to advance its research. The Hydrocephalus Association has provided $1.2 million since 2009 to support the work of HCRN and is committed to supporting the network into the future.
Below is a note that Chairman Kestle sent to the members of HCRN to acknowledge the milestone:
Our first sit down meeting was Aug 21 2006 so we just turned 10! Congratulations everyone and thanks for all the time and effort you have put into the network over the first 10 years. A special thanks to my co-founder Paul Gross for supporting us and helping us be accountable and productive. Thanks to all the site investigators for devoting a big part of your academic activity to the group and to Jim (Drake), Jerry (Oakes) and Tom (Luersson) for your wise counsel. A huge thank you goes to Marcie (Langley) and the folks at the Data Coordinating Center (DCC) for managing all of us and the many simultaneous projects and demands. Finally, I want to thank the site coordinators – you are the backbone of this network and none of the sites would survive without you!
The next 10 years will bring new challenges but also many opportunities to continue to grow and make an impact on hydrocephalus – I look forward to new study ideas, more grants and papers and especially to our biannual meetings – I always find them energizing thanks to excellent input from all of you.