Resident awarded prestigious fellowship by national neurosurgical society

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Through her training in the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Neurosurgery, fifth-year resident Lisa Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., sees a lot of patients who are undergoing brain radiation for tumors. In a fraction of patients, the radiation will affect healthy tissue surrounding the tumor, causing the tissue to swell and die, in turn causing problems for patients that include seizures, neurological deficits and sometimes death.

“There are no good treatments so these patients are pretty desperate,” Fedlman said. “If we could do something to help those patients, it would really improve their quality of life.”

Earlier this year, Feldman was awarded the William P. Van Wagenen Fellowship, which is the most prestigious fellowship award offered by the national neurosurgical societies. Her work will focus on using perfluorcarbon as a new oxygen delivery therapy for treating the cell death that results from radiation treatment of brain cancers. Feldman is the first awardee from the VCU School of Medicine.

For the award from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Feldman will conduct research at the University of Auckland in New Zealand for one year.

I don’t know if I would have received this award if I had been a resident in any other program.

“I don’t know if I would have received this award if I had been a resident in any other program,” Feldman said, adding that she started the fellowship research as a resident at VCU. “My department is so supportive of research. They’ve encouraged me to do all of these different projects.”

Feldman has been published in seven research journals and has developed five patent-pending neurosurgical devices she created in collaboration with biomedical engineers at VCU.

“The Van Wagenen Fellowship’s yearbook of past awardees reads like a who’s who of the neurosurgical field,” said R. Scott Graham, M.D., director of the Department of Neurosurgery’s residency program. “Many have gone on to become chairs of neurosurgery departments around the country or hold other prominent roles.”  

In addition to being the first Van Wagenen fellow from VCU, Feldman is only the fifth female honoree in the award’s 46-year history.

“The VCU neurosurgery department has a long history of training women as residents and hiring women as staff,” she said. “When I was interviewing for a residency position here, I remember being pleasantly surprised by how many women play pivotal roles in this department. Having been trained in this environment, I was not surprised that I, as a woman, received the Van Wagenen fellowship.”


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