LOS ANGELES (September 21, 2000) -- Responding to a growing need in the greater Los Angeles area for highly specialized care of pediatric brain tumors and other central nervous system disorders, Cedars-Sinai’s Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute has launched a state-of-the-art and comprehensive Pediatric Program for Neurosurgery. The multi-disciplinary program is led by pediatric neurosurgeon, Moise Danielpour, M.D., a Southland native, who has “returned home” to accept his challenging new role.
“The launching of a new program is very exciting, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it,” said Dr. Danielpour. “Brain tumors, spina bifida, epilepsy and hydrocephalus are very amenable to neurosurgical treatments,” he added.
According to Keith L. Black, M.D., Director of the Institute and of the Division of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai, the new program was developed to meet a growing need in the greater Los Angeles area. “The number of children being diagnosed with brain tumors is increasing,” he said. “At the same time, there are relatively few pediatric neurosurgeons in the greater Los Angeles area, and fewer still with Dr. Danielpour’s highly specialized expertise.” For example, he is one of only a handful of pediatric neurosurgeons in the world who performs in utero surgery for myelomeningocele spinal cord defect.
According to Dr. Danielpour, there have been great advancements in the treatment of brain and spinal cord tumors in children in the past two decades. “A child’s brain is better able to adapt to surgical intervention,” he said. “It has an inherent level of neuronal plasticity that is lost as the brain matures. The ability of the child brain to remodel neuronal connections allows us, as surgeons, a much better chance at complete surgical excision of brain and spinal cord tumors.”
The Los Angeles native specializes in treatment of pediatric brain tumors and other central nervous system disorders, including congenital malformations, epilepsy, craniofacial disorders (craniosynostosis) and hydrocephalus. He is one of a handful of pediatric neurosurgeons in the world who performs in utero surgery for myelomeningocele spinal cord defect.
In addition to Drs. Black and Danielpour, the Program for Pediatric Neurosurgery draws on the expertise of specialists in pediatric oncology, neurology, endocrinology, neuroradiology, neuropsychology, social support and genetics.
Treatment is enhanced with access to the Institute’s tumor vaccine program, which focuses on using the patient’s own immune system in helping to control tumor growth and prevent recurrent disease. The Institute also participates in clinical trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Children’s Cancer Study Group, enabling the clinical team to provide leading edge care for pediatric patients with brain and spinal cord tumors.
“At this time we are working on the protocols for high risk and recurrent pediatric brain tumors using the brain tumor vaccine,” said Dr. Danielpour. “Our hope is not only to gain increased survival, but to develop less toxic treatments than are presently available. The tumor vaccine is a potentially powerful tool that utilizes the child’s own immune system to recognize and destroy tumor cells.”
Dr. Danielpour has extensive research experience, including work at the Molecular Biology Institute and the Marion Davies Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition, he served as an American Heart Association student research fellow in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, where he studied the impact of antioncogenes on the growth and differentiation of neuronal cell lines. He has been published in numerous professional journals.
In addition to brain tumors, there are also continuing breakthroughs in the treatment of congenital malformations of the central nervous system, including spinal bifida, lipomyelomeningocele and tethered cord. Left untreated, a tethered cord can result in paraplegia, bowel and bladder incontinence, club feet, scoliosis and sexual dysfunction. Though surgical treatments exist, patients are often unaware that these options are available. “In a majority of cases, the child is able to go home from the hospital in a few days,” he states.
Dr. Danielpour is a co-investigator in National Institutes of Health-sponsored clinical trials for assessment of the role of intrauterine closure of myelomeningocele defect in maintaining neurological function, correction of Chiari II malformation and prevention of hydrocephalus.
Treatment of epilepsy is another focus of the Program for Pediatric Neurosurgery. Utilizing a team approach to the care of children with medically intractable epilepsy, the Institute offers state of the art clinical care for these patients. There are approximately 250,000 people in the United States with epilepsy.
“More than two-thirds of all epilepsy begins in childhood at a time when uncontrolled seizures can have significant effects on central nervous system development,” explained Dr. Danielpour.
Nearly 40 percent of children with partial epilepsy are candidates for surgical therapy. Working with a team of pediatric neurologists, pediatric epileptologists and social workers, Dr. Danielpour and pediatric neurosurgical colleagues evaluate children with medically intractable epilepsy to determine the best surgical management.
Dr. Danielpour received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he worked briefly in the laboratory with Mathew Scharff, M.D., a prominent immunologist and member of the National Academy of Sciences. He completed his residency in neurological surgery at Northwestern University in Chicago and served as chief resident and instructor. Dr. Danielpour completed his training with Dr. Peacock in San Francisco, where he served as a clinical instructor of pediatric neurosurgery at the joint Stanford-University of California, San Francisco Medical Centers. Dr. Danielpour earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology at UCLA, and was a member of the Golden Key National Honors Society and earned the departments highest honors with distinction in research.
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