Elite pediatric neurosurgeon launches institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital

April 23, 2009

By hammersmith

No class of ailments kills and disables more children in the United States than injuries, diseases, and disorders of the brain. In light of that grim reality, the arrival of P. David Adelson looks like a stroke of luck for Arizonans.

Dr. Adelson joined Phoenix Children’s Hospital in January, assuming the roles of chief of neurosurgery and director of the Children’s Neuroscience Institute (CNI), a new unit within the hospital that brings together resources from neurology, neurosurgery, behavioral medicine, and physical medicine and rehabilitation. And high on Dr. Adelson’s list of priorities are collaborations with local research institutions, including Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, the Translational Genomics Research Institute, and the state’s universities.

“I always wanted to specifically develop a children’s neuroscience institute,” Dr. Adelson said. “This is an opportunity to do something that is truly unique by removing the traditional boundaries of neuroscience divisions and really create more of a seamlessly cooperative, comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach, not just to clinical care, but really to try to push the state-of-the-art, to be able to do education, research, and other unique things.”

With a staff of 40, plans to increase that number by another 80 in the coming years, and oversight of a $14 million clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Adelson, who also serves as president of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, has already put CNI on the map for the study of neurological disorders.

“There’s no question, with Dr. Adelson now guiding our Children’s Neuroscience Institute, Phoenix Children’s is poised to reach new frontiers in multi-disciplinary pediatric neurological clinical care,” said Robert L. Meyer, Phoenix Children’s president and CEO.

Previously, Dr. Adelson was the Albright Professor of Neurosurgery/Pediatric Neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh and the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Coming to Phoenix meant relinquishing a well-established research operation and surgery practice, but brought distinct advantages.

“Phoenix Children’s is in a unique situation, with a fast-growing pediatric population that requires an immediate response in order to serve the medical needs of our children,” he said.

Furthermore, in Pittsburgh, cross-institutional partnerships were difficult to achieve, he explained in the Phoenix Business Journal, and he could rarely work outside of his home institution. He doesn’t foresee that challenge being replicated in Arizona.

“I don’t expect to build an island. We want to create a resource for the city and the region, he said in the Business Journal. “One of my true goals is to get out into the rest of the state and see what we could develop as an integrated, collaborative approach toward care.”

BNI is one of the obvious partner institutions for the kind of investigations emanating from CNI. Phil Pomeroy, Barrow’s vice president of neurosciences, said BNI welcomes the opportunity to work with Dr. Adelson.

“He has received an open invitation from Dr. Robert Spetzler, Barrow director, to collaborate with Barrow scientists as well as participate in our neurosurgery or neurology teaching programs,” Pomeroy said in the Business Journal.

Raun Melmed, medical director of the Phoenix-based Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, said in the Business Journal that the research funding Dr. Adelson brings to Phoenix Children’s will benefit the broader community. “It’s nice for Phoenix Children’s Hospital to get money for their own research, but at the same time everyone stands to gain in terms of children and families impacted by these types of disorders.”

The NIH-funded clinical trial Dr. Adelson leads is examining whether inducing moderate hypothermia can be beneficial in young children who have suffered sever traumatic brain injury–because of accidents, or, most often, because of complicated births in which they are deprived of oxygen for extended periods of time. A pilot study of that treatment has suggested might cut fatality rates from 15 percent to 5 percent, Dr. Adelson said in the Arizona Republic.

For more information:

New Phoenix Children’s Hospital head sees opportunity,” Arizona Republic, 04/21/2009

PCH taps renowned doctor, Dr. David Adelson, to lead new neuro institute,” Phoenix Business Journal, 03/27/2009

Phoenix Children’s Hospital news release, 02/09/2009

Phoenix Children’s Hospital “Spotlight Stories”