ASSFN Leadership Priorities From the Section on Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery

Aviva Abosch, MD, PhD

The American Association of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery (ASSFN) remains deeply involved in a variety of educational, organizational, and advocacy activities on behalf of US functional neurosurgeons.

Through the efforts of the Washington Office and Katie Orrico and staff, a series of meetings were conducted in May 2015 with members of the US House Ways & Means Committee and Senate Healthcare Committee and ASSFN leadership—including Senator Lamar Alexander and Representatives Philip Roe and Michael Burgess—all critical in various aspects of healthcare legislation. These leaders expressed significant interest in hearing our views on the 21st Century Cures Act—specifically on the details of this roadmap for (1) streamlining the FDA process, (2) for targeted areas for NIH funding increase, (3) for reversing CMS restrictions on access to care, and (4) for overhaul of existing electronic health record (EHR) systems.

Preparations for the June 2016 Biennial ASSFN Meeting in Chicago are well underway. The 2016 ASSFN Meeting will showcase the progress and current state of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery with a stellar list of invited speakers and concurrent sessions. The conference will take place at the Intercontinental Hotel Chicago, on June 18–21, 2016. ASSFN Immediate Past President Dr. Konstantin Slavin is the meeting chairman, and Dr. Joshua Rosenow is the local host. There are continued efforts underway to expand membership and meeting registration to include colleagues in biomedical engineering, neurology, and psychiatry. Further details are available at www.assfn.org.

We continue to work towards expanding our international footprint. Our section leadership is broadly represented on the program of the upcoming World Society of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery (WSSFN) Meeting in Mumbai this September. In return, we encourage and actively solicit the leadership and members of our international partner societies to participate in our Section Sessions.

Fresh from its successful development of guidelines on deep brain stimulation for obsessive-compulsive disorder, the ASSFN Guidelines Committee is retooling to produce our second societal guidelines effort—this one aimed at neuromodulation for the treatment of epilepsy, a topic that evolved from the recent FDA approval of responsive neural stimulation (RNS), the pending approval of DBS for epilepsy (SANTE), and the comparatively long-standing approval of VNS for epilepsy.

As part of ongoing efforts to promote the training and education of residents, fellows, and neurosurgeons in stereotactic and functional neurosurgery, ASSFN will hold its 3rd Annual Hands-on Training Course in Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery. The course has moved from Atlanta to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and is free to residents.

After several failed industry-sponsored clinical trials of DBS for depression, the ASSFN Executive Council drafted and published an editorial on this issue in Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery. We have submitted an R13 grant proposal to the NINDS for funding a workshop in June 2016 on the topic of “Construction of Successful Clinical Trials in Neuromodulation for Psychiatric Indications.” NINDS, FDA, ASSFN, and industry experts are all invited to participate.

Finally, ASSFN leadership continues to look for ways to broaden and deepen the engagement between our society and our current key industry partners with respect to our shared priorities of (1) patient care and access, (2) advancing the field through research, (3) training the next generation of practitioners, and (4) the formation of joint task forces to tackle the obstacles associated with each of these priorities.