News for members of the Western Neurosurgical Society

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Winter 2015


Room reservations for the 2015 Annual Meeting at the Grand Hyatt in Kaua'i available online

The simplest way to reserve your room at the Grand Hyatt for our 2015 meeting September 10-13 is to follow this link or copy and paste it in the address line of your browser:

A direct functional link is on our Web site at, click on 2015 meeting menu item. Should you wish to speak to the hotel, their phone number is 800-916-4339.

The normal rack rate is $200+ a night more than our negotiated rate so don't find yourself trying to get a room at the last minute when our quota has been filled and the only rooms available are at the $459 rack rate.

For those of you who have paid your 2015 dues, thank you.  As you noticed, I sent the invoices via email this year, saving the Western money on postage, envelopes, and ink, and saving me several paper cuts from stuffing envelopes. For the later, I am especially thankful.
If you have not paid your 2015 dues (or for 11 of our members, your 2014 and 2015 dues), an invoice can be found on our website at
It is a fillable form if you have Adobe Reader but will need to be printed and snail mailed or faxed. I will be mailing reminders in the coming weeks for any dues not yet received.
The following members will be officially dropped at the next Executive Committee meeting in April for nonpayment of dues for more than two years.  I have sent multiple invoices both through regular mail and email.  If you know if they would like to stay a member, please have them contact me at
Active members being dropped:
Behnam Badie
Justin Brown
Peter Gruen
Farzad Massoudi
J Paul Muizellaar

Senior Members being dropped:
Cecil Chang
John Grollmus
William Kelly
Frederick Pitts
Michael Pritz

I appreciate all your help.
Warm regards,
Debbie Henry, MD
WNS Secretary/Treasurer

By-Laws Revisions adopted in Sun Valley
By a vote of the members in attendance at the 2014 annual business meeting, a number of by-laws changes were adopted.  The most pertinent changes included:

1.  Addition of Provisional category of membership. The Provisional category will allow those membership candidates who have presented a paper as a guest at an annual meeting and whose application is complete except for attainment of ABNS certification to have a place in the society.  They will pay annual dues and be held to active member attendance requirements.  Upon achieving ABNS certification, they will be presented to the membership at the next annual business meeting for election to active status and the provisional member must be in attendance at that annual meeting.
2.  Addition of Non-active category of membership.  The Non-active category will be populated by active members who fail to attend one out of four annual meetings and who indicate a desire to continue membership.  They must apply to the Executive Committee for placement in the Non-active category.  Non-active members will be required to pay active member dues and will receive all official communications of the society.  They may resume active membership by request after attending an annual meeting.
3.   Eliminated Mexico from the geographical areas in which our active members may reside. 
4.  The addition of a Communication and Web Committee to the standing committees.
5.  Eliminated the recent bylaws change that allowed non-elected committee chairs to vote at the Executive Committee.

The revised by-laws are posted on our Web site at

Executive Committee Interim Meeting

The EC will meet on April 25th, 2015.  The agenda shall include planning for the Annual Meeting, consideration of applications of candidate members, and any other necessary business matters. Chairpersons of Standing Committees are expected to attend and submit activity reports.

Any member who wishes to have an issue addressed should bring it to the attention of Debbie Henry at 

From Debbie's Desk

The 2015 WNS President Gary Steinberg, his wife Sandy Garritano, Dr. Weinand’s wife Shauna, and I just returned from a whirl-wind 48-hour trip to Kauai in order to plan a spectacular 2015 meeting.
The opening reception is on Thursday evening September 10 with the scientific session on Friday, Saturday, and concluding Sunday morning.  Dr. Marty Weinand is hard at work fashioning a superb scientific program culminating with two breakfast symposiums, one on ethical considerations in neurological surgery and the other on advances in neurosurgical treatment of spinal disorders.
The Grand Hyatt is a fantastic hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  We have secured excellent rates ($235 and $285).  Hotel reservations can be made at: .  Don’t delay.  We have reserved a large block, but once the block is gone, there is no guarantee of the same rates.
We have scheduled a private tour of the National Tropical Botanical Garden for a Friday afternoon activity.  This delightful part of paradise is located less that 10 minutes from the hotel.  We will have the usual golf and tennis.  Possibilities of other afternoon activities include a helicopter tour over the island, snorkeling from a Zodiac, and tubing through the mines of an old sugar plantation.
Registration will be $975 for member and a spouse/guest.  As always, this includes the opening reception, three breakfasts, the local dinner, and the formal banquet, as well as up to 12 hours of CME. Look for the registration in your emails and on our web site in April.
Shauna Weinand is helping me out with the Spouse/Guest breakfasts and the activities and Michi Carlson has been hired by the Western to work with our exhibitors and aid with the registrations.  Michi did a superb job last year recruiting companies, so if you know of any exhibitors who would like to show their wares on the lovely island of Kauai, have them contact Michi at As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or comments at
Here’s to a great 61st Annual Meeting of the Western Neurosurgical Society.

See you in Kauai!

Deborah Henry
WNS Secretary/Treasurer



Sam Assam 
11/19/1930 – 1/28/2015

Born November 19, 1930 in Sioux Falls to Hamad and Helen Assam, Sam was one of seven siblings. He attended Mark Twain Elementary and graduated from Washington High School, going on to attend the University of Minnesota for both his undergraduate and medical school degrees. He went on to intern at Philadelphia General Hospital and completed his neurosurgical residency at Indiana University.  He served nearly three years at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego then went into practice in San Diego.  Dr. Assam founded the Neurosurgical Medical Clinic with Dr. Thomas Waltz in 1969. The Clinic as a grown to become the largest and most active private neurosurgical practice in San Diego. He also met and married Norma Mandrell during this time and together they raised five children.
In 1980 Sam moved his family to his home town of Sioux
Falls, where he practiced medicine at McKennan/Avera, the VA,
and Sioux Valley/Sanford hospitals. He was the first professor of
Neurosurgery at the University of South Dakota Medical School.
In 1984, he returned with his family to San Diego to resume his primary practice.
Dr. Assam loved South Dakota and was frequently drawn back to spend time with his many longtime friends and colleagues while enjoying golfing, hunting, fishing, cooking, and eating with them and his brothers and sisters, their spouses and children, and especially his sons.
Sam joined the Western Neurosurgical Society in 1997 after giving a paper on the "Far Lateral Foraminal Syndrome" at Manele Bay in 1996 when that clinical entity was a fairly new concept to explain radicular symptoms in patients who had no disc protrusion into the canal.  He maintained his membership until his death in Sioux Falls.
Dr. Assam is survived by his wife of 45 years, Norma Mandrell
Assam, of Sioux Falls; son Eric (Jacquelin) of Orlando FL;
daughter Leesie (Paul Van Roon) of San Diego, CA; son Richard
(Alana) of Shasta Trinity Nat’l Forest, CA; and sons Michael
(Melissa Dean), and Brian, both of Sioux Falls. He is also survived by his grandsons Willem, Samuel, and Orion and great-grandson, Nathan.


Call for Committee Volunteers

President-Elect Linda Liau would like to hear from members who are interested in serving on one of the Western's committees for 2015-2016.  The Committees are:

Site Selection
Local Arrangements
Communications & Web Site

If you are interested in serving on one of these committees, please contact Dr. Liau at




Linda Liau, M.D., PhD.

The first woman elected to be president of the Western Neurosurgical Society in its 61 years, our president elect is an amazingly accomplished neurosurgeon.
Linda became interested in Science early in her formative years. She graduated from Brown University with a BA in Political science and a BS in Biochemistry in 1987.   She received her MD degree from Stanford University in 1991 and went on to train in Neurosurgery at UCLA.
During her residency, Linda lost her mother to metastatic cancer. It was then that she decided to dedicate her professional life to curing brain tumors. She did a year of fellowship in Neuro-Oncology in 1998 and at the same time completed her PhD in Neuroscience in 1999.  She has been on the faculty of the UCLA department of neurosurgery ever since where she is now Professor and Vice-Chair for Academic Affairs as well as Director of the Brain Tumor Program.
Linda is widely published and has traveled all over the world as a visiting professor; it seems that everyone wants to hear about her experience and research. Over the years she received multimillion-dollar grants from the NIH as well as well as many other organizations.  She is on the editorial board of 15 National and International scientific journals and is and has been for the last eight years the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neuro-Oncology.  And as if this is not enough: Linda serves as a Director on the American Board of Neurological Surgery-ABNS.
In addition to her clinical responsibilities, she directs a strong research program where she has been responsible for several breakthroughs. She holds several US patents and is excited about her brain tumor vaccine called DCVax-L®, a vaccine based on the affected patient’s dendritic cells that is presently in Phase III randomized multicenter clinical trials in 46 US hospitals as well as several International centers.
Linda has been a member of the Western since 2003 and has served on the Nominating Committee, on the Program Committee and as Program chair in 2006 and Vice-President in 2009.  Linda is married to our member Marvin Bergsneider, also a UCLA professor and they have two beautiful children: Brandon and Bianca.  It is obvious that we will be in good hands next year, but the question is: when does Linda sleep?



Thomas B. Scully, M.D.

Tom Scully’s call to medicine came from his parents, Dr. John and Joan Scully.  Dr. John Scully was a beloved internist/cardiologist in Northwest Indiana and served as an early role model for Tom.  Tom grew up in Gary, Indiana, and graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1983.  There he not only excelled academically, but lettered in golf, a passion that continues today.  He went on to Indiana University and completed his medical degree in 1988 (AOA) and neurosurgical residency 1994.  He moved to Tucson, Arizona, and joined Neurological Associates of Tucson, then the largest Neurology/Neurosurgery group in the southwest.  In 2003, he co-founded his current group, Northwest NeuroSpecialists.

Tom is our current Vice-President of the WNS, and has previously served as chair of the Bylaws Committee, chair of the Membership Committee, and member of the Scientific Program Committee.  In addition to his service to the WNS, he currently serves as the President-Elect of the Arizona State Neurosurgical Society, after serving as the Vice-President and Secretary.  He recently completed a term on the AANS Public Relations Committee from 2009-2013 where he spent much of his time with organized neurosurgery’s efforts around sports-related concussions.  Tom has served the Northwest Medical Center’s Medical Staff as chair of the Department of Surgery and Section Chief of Neurological Surgery.  He has previously served as an Alternate Delegate to the Council of State Neurosurgical Societies and continues as Instructor for the AANS Julius Goodman Oral Board Review Course.

Tom’s  passion for teaching and sports only come in second to his passion for his family.  Tom married Dawn Dyer Scully, RN, CNRN, and has two children, Thomas Andrew (freshman at TCU) and Caroline McKenzie (junior at Salpointe Catholic High School).  In addition to following his children’s lives at the baseball field, volleyball court, swimming pool, and stage, Tom volunteers his time at Embellish Home, Dawn’s specialty store for home décor, unique gifts, and jewelry.

Even with all the above, Tom still finds time to intensely follow Indiana University basketball and Notre Dame football, a task fraught with some disappointment  these past few years.  We feel Tom will prevail even if the Hoosiers and Irish don’t.


WNS Members In Print

JNS—December 2014
William T. Couldwell, M.D., Ph.D.  Expanding neurosurgery: The 2014 AANS Presidential Address
William T. Couldwell, M.D., Ph.D.  Co-prevalence of other tumors in patients harboring pituitary tumors: Clinical article
Nathan R. Selden, M.D., Ph.D.  Using a 2-variable method in radionuclide shuntography to predict shunt patency: Clinical article
JNS—January 2015
Michael McDermott, MD   Meningiomas: knowledge base, treatment outcomes, and uncertainties. A RANO review
Keith L. Black, MD  Unplanned readmissions and survival following brain tumor surgery
Mitchel S. Berger, MD  Primary glioblastoma of the trigeminal nerve root entry zone: case report
Gary K. Steinberg, MD, PhD  Is local hypoperfusion the reason for transient neurological deficits after STA-MCA bypass for moyamoya disease?
Michael T. Lawton, MD   Brainstem arteriovenous malformations: anatomical subtypes, assessment of “occlusion in situ” technique, and microsurgical results
JNS—February 2015
Mitchel S. Berger, MD  Contemporary model of language organization: an overview for neurosurgeons
Mitchel S. Berger, MD  Surgery for primary supratentorial brain tumors in the United States, 2000–2009: effect of provider and hospital caseload on complication rates
Michael W. McDermott, MD, and Michael T. Lawton, MD  A treatment paradigm for high-grade brain arteriovenous malformations: volume-staged radiosurgical downgrading followed by microsurgical resection
William T. Couldwell, MD, PhD  Marching beyond the sella: Gerard Guiot and his contributions to neurosurgery
JNS-Peds  December 2014
Frank P. K. Hsu, M.D., Ph.D.  Deep brain stimulation for the treatment of childhood dystonic cerebral palsy: Clinical article VIDEO
Nathan R. Selden, M.D., Ph.D.  Bibliometric evaluation of pediatric neurosurgery in North America: Clinical article
JNS-Peds  February 2015
Gary K. Steinberg, MD, PhD  Internal carotid artery surgical revascularization in a pediatric patient with Schimke immuno-osseous dysplasia
JNS-Spine  December 2014
Christopher I. Shaffrey, M.D.  Prospective multicenter assessment of risk factors for rod fracture following surgery for adult spinal deformity: Clinical article
JNS-Spine  January 2015
Christopher I. Shaffrey, MD  Evaluation of monoenergetic imaging to reduce metallic instrumentation artifacts in computed tomography of the cervical spine
Neurosurgery December 2014
Lawton, Michael T.  Roles of Estrogen in the Formation of Intracranial Aneurysms in Ovariectomized Female Mice
Little, Andrew S.  Book Review: Rhinology and Endoscopic Skull Base Surgery: Otorhinolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery Series
Neurosurgery January 2015
Lawton, Michael T  Validation of the Supplemented Spetzler-Martin Grading System for Brain Arteriovenous Malformations in a Multicenter Cohort of 1009 Surgical Patients
Neurosurgery February 2015
Yonas, Howard  Enhancement of Neurogenesis and Memory by a Neurotrophic Peptide in Mild to Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury
Operative Neurosurgery December 2014
McDermott, Michael W.   Primary Vertebral Artery Reanastomosis During Retrosigmoid Skull Base Approach Following Iatrogenic Near-Transection With Monopolar Electrocautery
Neurosurgery Focus December 2014
Mitchel S. Berger, M.D., Thomas C. Chen, M.D., Ph.D.  Introduction: Glioblastoma: an update on pathophysiology and management strategies
Thomas C. Chen, M.D., Ph.D.  Chloroquine enhances temozolomide cytotoxicity in malignant gliomas by blocking autophagy
Neurosurgery Focus January 2015
Martin H. Weiss, MD,  Editorial: Neurosurgical Focus yearly summary
Bob S. Carter, MD, PhD.  Introduction: A focus on low-grade glioma
Mitchel Berger, MD. Survival and low-grade glioma: the emergence of genetic information 
Neurosurgery Focus Video Supplement January 2015
William T. Couldwell, M.D., Ph.D.  Far-lateral approach for surgical treatment of fusiform PICA aneurysm VIDEO
The Spine Journal January 2015
Christopher I. Shaffrey, M.D.   Coronal plane spinal malalignment and Parkinson's disease: prevalence and associations with disease severity

Surgical Neurology International 2015 Suppl S1
Richard G Ellenbogen M.D.  Bionanotechnology and the Future of Glioma
Copyright © 2015 Western Neurosurgical Society, All rights reserved.

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Newsletter Editor: Randy Smith (