October 27-November 3, 2002
By Matthew Chang, MD, PGY4
Josh Medow, MD, PGY4
A hearty congratulations to Dr. and Mrs. Awad for another wonderfully organized and educational week in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. This years Research Update in Neuroscience for Neurosurgeons (RUNN) was from October 27th to November 3rd. Nearly seventy residents from all over the county descended upon the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) for a week that did not disappoint. The educational line-up was stacked with excellent lecturers on the latest hot topics such as neural regeneration in spinal cord injury and degenerating diseases, plasticity, angiogenesis, convection delivery to the brain, and more. Senior professors merged with younger professors and residents of all levels to discuss science and medicine as they pertain to neurosurgery. At one point Dr. Friedman from Duke University said "It's nice to be able to talk shop this much and not feel guilty about it." Then Dr. Dempsey from the University of Wisconsin proceeded to reminded us how lucky we are not to have to perform surgery like they do in an impoverished third-world nation; with armed guards and with tools about as sophisticated as a flint. He used this as a stepping stone to explain how to develop innovative ideas with limited assistance. This was followed by a complementary lecture from Dr. Awad on the different grants from the NIH that are available for residents and faculty and how best to apply for them.
The days were well planned and the food was plentiful. Food coma was thwarted by the diversity in the subject matter being presented including discussions about artificial intelligence and its integration with neurons from IBM's "Deep Blue" guru Kerry Bernstein. In addition to the science discussions, we all took an enthralling tour of the MBL by one of its distinguished veterans. That afternoon was concluded by testing our microsurgical skills on the giant squid axon. (More microsurgical practice is definitely needed!). To aid us in learning neurophysiology, the course participants were each given a copy of Fundamental Neuroscience, an exceptionally detailed book comparable to Kendall and Schwartz.
Our evenings were spent conversing with residents and professors from around the country during multitudes of activities: runs or walks along the ocean, ferry rides to and dinners in Martha's Vineyard, cocktails at the local pub, and nightly cocktail hours at the MBL designed to integrate faculty and residents alike. The week was culminated with an exquisite Massachusetts style clam bake. At the end of the week we all felt a little bit smarter, a lot more up to date on the future of neuroscience, more connected with our peers, and most importantly, we realized that we are a part of an amazing group of people around the globe who are driven to take science and medicine into the new millennium.