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Drs. Hyungbae Kwon and Hiroki Taniguchi Join Max Planck Florida Institute as Research Group Leaders

In NEWS ABOUT OUR CLIENTS on February 23, 2012 at 17:48

The Max Planck Florida Institute (MPFI) has announced that neuroscientists Hyungbae Kwon, PhD and Hiroki Taniguchi, PhD will join the Institute as research group leaders.  With the addition of Drs. Kwon and Taniguchi, MPFI will have eight research groups, each dedicated to investigating different aspects of the structure and function of neural circuits.  One of the ultimate challenges in biology is to understand neural circuits, which form the complex synaptic networks of the brain and determine who we are, how we think, and how we behave.

“We are delighted to have these two outstanding young neuroscientists join our Institute,” says David Fitzpatrick, PhD, CEO, Scientific Director of the Institute, and leader of the research group, Functional Architecture and Development of Cerebral Cortex.  “The addition of Dr. Taniguchi and Dr. Kwon is part of our plan to build the best team of scientists who can significantly advance our understanding of neural circuits and, ultimately, develop more effective treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders.”

Dr. Kwon joins MPFI from the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, where he served as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Bernardo Sabatini, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.  Dr. Taniguchi comes to the Institute from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he was a research investigator in the lab of Dr. Z. Josh Huang.

Dr. Taniguchi’s research probes the cellular and molecular mechanisms that are responsible for the development of neural circuits in the cerebral cortex, the largest and most complex area of the brain, whose proper function is critical for sensory perception, motor control, and cognition.  He is highly regarded in the field for pioneering work that has made it possible to target molecular probes to specific classes of neurons in the cerebral cortex that utilize the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA.  This discovery has opened the door to a broad range of experiments that will make it possible to analyze the structure, function and development of GABAergic neurons, and to use this information to address a host of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Among other scientific goals, Dr. Taniguchi plans to work collaboratively with colleagues at Max Planck Florida Institute to expand his studies of GABA neurons and their roles in regulating the activity of circuits in cerebral cortex.

Prior to his position at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Dr. Taniguchi received his PhD from the National Institute for Basic Biology in Japan and was a postdoctoral fellow, in Dr. Peter Scheiffele’s lab at Columbia. Recognition of Dr. Taniguchi’s accomplishments includes fellowships from the Toyobo Biotechnology Foundation, the Riken Institute, and the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression.  He was recently awarded a PRESTO grant from the Japanese Government to pursue his studies on the development and function of neural circuits.  Among the prestigious journals that have published his work are Nature, Neuron, and Journal of Neuroscience.

Dr. Kwon’s research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of synapse formation and synaptic signaling in cortical circuits.  His most recent work shows that localized release of the neurotransmitter glutamate is sufficient to induce the emergence of dendritic spines, neuronal specializations that harbor the vast majority of the synaptic inputs to cortical neurons.  This work has demonstrated the contribution of newly formed synapses to the function of cortical circuits and has made it feasible to study the molecular mechanisms by which spines and synapses are formed.  As a research group leader at Max Planck Florida Institute, Dr. Kwon plans to continue exploring the molecular mechanisms that regulate synapse development and neuronal connectivity.  His long-term goal is to understand how neural circuits are properly constructed and revised by constantly changing environmental inputs during early development. His research will provide fundamental insights into the regulation of cortical circuit formation and promote a better understanding of the pathophysiology underlying key brain disorders.

Prior to working with Dr. Sabatini at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Kwon received his PhD in Dr. Pablo Castillo’s lab at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  He is the recipient of numerous honors including a Brain Korea 21 Fellowship; The Society for Neuroscience Chapter Graduate Student Award; Association of Korean Neuroscientists Outstanding Research Award; and the 13th Julius Marmur Research Award, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is first author or co-author of a number of influential studies, published or in press in such high-impact scientific journals as Nature, Neuron, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Journal of Neuroscience.

About the Max Planck Florida Institute – The first institute established by Germany’s prestigious Max Planck Society outside of Europe, the Max Planck Florida Institute is also the first research institute of its kind in North America.  MPFI seeks to provide new insight into the functional organization of the nervous system, its capacity to produce perception, thought, language, memory, emotion, and action. Neural circuits, the complex synaptic networks of the brain, hold the key to understanding who we are, why we behave the way we do, and how the debilitating effects of neurological and psychiatric disorders can be ameliorated. MPFI meets this challenge by forging links between different levels of analysis—genetic, molecular, cellular, circuit, and behavioral—and developing new technologies that make cutting edge scientific discoveries possible. For more information, visit www.maxplanckflorida.org


Concussion In Young Athletes: Know the Symptoms and Risks

In NEWS ABOUT OUR CLIENTS on February 23, 2012 at 14:48

Dr. Gad Klein, co-director of the Long Island Concussion Center at Neurological Surgery, P.C. being interviewed about concussions in youth sports on WBAB (102.3 FM) and WBLI (106.1 FM) radio

Dr. Gad Klein, neuropsychologist and co-director of the Long Island Concussion Center at Neurological Surgery, P.C., was interviewed recently for a segment about concussions in youth sports for WBAB (102.3 FM) and WBLI (106.1 FM) radio.

Dr. Klein’s interview is scheduled to air on March 4, 2012 at either 6:00 or 6:30 a.m.

Concussion in youth sports is a serious issue, as young athletes’ brains are more susceptible to injuries. These injuries can become more serious as players suffer repeated incidents. Dr. Klein cites some of the most common symptoms of concussion: headaches, cognitive difficulty, fatigue and mood change.

Dr. Klein uses a range of tools including neuropsychological testing to assist in determining whether young athletes are ready to return to play and to evaluate their cognitive and academic abilities before and after returning to school. Among these methods is the new ImPACT Concussion System, a computerized test developed at the University of Pittsburgh, which evaluates concussion victims’ cognitive abilities. Both Dr. Klein and Dr. Joseph Moreira, co-director of the center, are ImPACT certified, and able to properly interpret ImPACT results and help athletics officials determine the safest post-concussion plan for each student.

The Long Island Concussion Center at Neurological Surgery, P.C. is a multidisciplinary practice with specialists in the field of neurology, neuropsychology, neurosurgery, pain management, and physical therapy.  The mission of the Concussion Center is to provide comprehensive assessment and management of individuals with acute concussions or lingering post-concussive syndrome. Center experts provide medical and cognitive evaluations after mild brain injury, help patients understand the nature of their injury and what to expect as they recover, and manage lingering symptoms. Center staff can also work closely with each athlete’s primary care physician and assist in making decisions regarding the athlete’s ability to return to work or school, or participate in sports activities, following a concussion.


Neurological Surgery, P.C. is one of the New York City area’s premier neurosurgical groups, offering patients the most advanced treatments of brain and spine disorders. The practice’s physicians represent a range of surgical and nonsurgical specialities, combining compassionate care with highly specialized training. They are leaders in the region’s medical community, with appointments as chiefs of neurosurgery in some of Long Island’s best hospitals. NSPC offers eight convenient locations in Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties. For information, call 1-800-775-7784 or visit http://www.NSPC.com.

Hyperbaric Oxygen May Help In Treating Aggressive Brain Cancer

In NEWS ABOUT OUR CLIENTS on October 10, 2011 at 16:47

Photo credit: Howard Schnapp | Dr. Jonathan Haas, Dr. Paul Duic, Dr. Scott Gorenstein, and Dr. Jai Grewal with Dr. Janna Andrews are testing a deceptively simple idea oxygen may help destroy brain tumors. They stand by the hyperbaric chambers at Winthrop University Hospital. (Aug. 19, 2011)

In a unique study, researchers at The Long Island Brain Tumor Center at Neurological Surgery, P.C. are examining whether hyperbaric oxygen therapy– breathing pure oxygen while in a pressurized chamber– may prove a useful addition to the current standard of care for patients newly diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.  The Phase II study is currently enrolling participants, and is being conducted at Neurological Surgery, P.C. offices in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, New York, as well as at Winthrop University Hospital, Mineola, NY.

“Malignant glioblastoma is the most aggressive type of brain cancer, and it generally has a poor prognosis,” says neuro-oncologist J. Paul Duic, MD, principal investigator on the study and co-director of The Long Island Brain Tumor Center. “Novel treatment strategies are clearly needed.”

Malignant brain tumors are the second leading cause of cancer deaths in people under 35, and the fourth leading cause of cancer death in people under 54.  Glioblastoma is the most common and most aggressive primary (non-metastatic) type of brain cancer.  Median survival for glioblastomas is 12-14 months, and only 26 percent of patients survive two years.

Patients enrolled in the study must be newly diagnosed with malignant glioblastoma, and have previously received brain tumor surgery, but not radiation or chemotherapy.  All patients in the study will receive the current standard of care for those newly diagnosed with glioblastoma– temozolomide (Temodar®) plus radiation therapy– as well as hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

“We know that these brain tumors prefer a low-oxygen metabolic state, and there is evidence that this metabolic state may contribute to the tumors’ ability to resist the effects of radiation therapy and chemotherapy,” says Jai Grewal, MD, sub-investigator on the study and co-director of The Long Island Brain Tumor Center.  “We want to see whether increasing the oxygen concentration of the tumor increases the effectiveness of standard therapy.”

Drs. Duic and Grewal are also interested in evaluating the effect of this treatment on patients’ quality of life and stress levels.  Participants will be asked to complete several brief questionnaires.

Hyperbaric oxygen has shown some benefit in pre-clinical studies, and in two recent Japanese clinical trials.  In the first clinical trial, published in 2006, Ogawa and colleagues found that patients who received radiation therapy immediately after hyperbaric oxygenation, combined with chemotherapy, had longer survival rates, relatively few adverse events and no late toxicities.  In 2007, Kohshi and colleagues reported additional survival benefits with minimal additional toxicity for previously treated high-grade glioma patients who were given hyperbaric oxygen combined with stereotactic radiosurgery.

In the current study, which is the only one of its type underway in the U.S., patients will first receive blood and medical imaging tests.  They will then be given six weeks of hyperbaric treatments combined with radiation (Monday-Friday) and chemotherapy with temozolomide, which they will take at home daily.  They will then have four weeks off treatment, then resume taking temozolomide on a monthly basis.

Study participants will receive the experimental hyperbaric therapy prior to each radiation treatment during the initial six weeks of treatment.  During the hyperbaric treatment, the patient will lie on a stretcher in a hyperbaric chamber and breathe oxygen at greater than normal atmospheric pressure.  Blood sugar measurements will be taken, and medical imaging tests will also be done.

Patient participation in the study lasts one year, unless the patient cannot tolerate further treatment or side effects, or shows evidence of tumor progression.  Patients may also voluntarily withdraw from the study.

Study results will be compared with those from the recently published multi-center trial by Stupp and colleagues, which demonstrated that temozolomide, when added to radiation therapy, can prolong the lives of those newly diagnosed with glioblastoma.  This study defined the current standard of care.

The Long Island Brain Tumor Center at Neurological Surgery, P.C. provides the most comprehensive care available on Long Island, with state-of-the-art facilities located across Nassau and Suffolk Counties.  The Center offers a multi-disciplinary approach to treating brain tumors, provided by a team of more than 20 physicians and surgeons with various sub-specialties.  The team works in concert with patients’ medical oncologists and other health care professionals, and treats primary brain and spinal tumors, as well as metastases and CNS lymphoma.  The Center is currently conducting two clinical trials.

For more information on this or other brain tumor studies, please call Kimberly Prabhu, RN, (516) 478-0010, or Julia Trojanowski, RN, (631) 864-3900.

About Neurological Surgery, P.C.

Neurological Surgery, P.C. is one of the New York City area’s premier neurosurgical groups, offering patients the most advanced treatments of brain and spine disorders.  These include minimally invasive procedures such as stereotactic radiosurgery (Gamma Knife® and CyberKnife®), aneurysm coiling, neuro-endoscopy, spinal stimulators, carotid stents, interventional pain management, microdiscectomy, kyphoplasty, and X-STOP®.  The practice’s physicians represent a range of surgical and nonsurgical specialties, combining compassionate care with highly specialized training. They are leaders in the region’s medical community, with appointments as chiefs of neurosurgery in some of Long Island’s best hospitals.  NSPC offers eight convenient locations in Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties.  For more information, call 1-800-775-7784 or visit www.NSPC.com.