Aurora Health Care Hires Pioneering Neurosurgeon Dr. Amin Kassam To Lead Neurosciences Department

February 05, 2014

Milwaukee, Wis. – Aurora Health Care has hired internationally renowned neurosurgeon, Amin Kassam, MD, to lead its Neurosciences Department.

“Dr. Kassam is a true pioneer in his field, and we’re pleased that he will be leading our Neurosciences team and complementing our current capabilities and services, while providing numerous advances in patient care,” said Nick Turkal, MD, Aurora’s Chief Executive Officer. “Aurora’s services in neurosciences and neurosurgery are immediately elevated with Dr. Kassam. This is great news for our current patients and people throughout the region and country who require this type of care.”

Dr. Kassam officially joined Aurora in Nov., 2013 as Vice President of the Neurosciences System Clinical Program. Recognized globally for establishing technological advancements in complex skull base surgery and minimally invasive approaches, he has begun caring for patients and performing surgery while transforming Aurora’s neurosciences program.

“In Aurora I have found a true partner that shares my passion for patients and their care, as well as continual advancement through technology and integration,” said Dr. Kassam. “An example of Aurora’s dedication to this is its impressive research capacity and over 400 clinical trials that the organization undertakes, which are critical to innovation. Aurora is committed to innovation and imagination delivering new methods and practices to treat patients, and I am excited to be a part of this program.”

In his administrative role, Dr. Kassam will help to coordinate all specialty neurosciences services that Aurora St. Luke’s provides to other Aurora hospitals, assist in the integration of overall neuroscience offerings across Aurora’s hospitals, and ensure that patients receiving care from Aurora’s clinics, pharmacies and home health program also benefit from this access.

Dr. Kassam became a central figure in pioneering the development of the Expanded Endonasal Approach (EEA) and has performed many of the world’s groundbreaking procedures in the field of EEA, allowing for complex tumors of the base of the skull to be removed through the nose.

In the tradition of innovation that has marked his career, Dr. Kassam has spent the last three years pursuing novel imaging and therapies for primary and metastatic brain cancer. This new, integrated technique to minimally invasive surgeries that he pioneered and teaches creates the opportunity to reduce risks of damage to speech, memory, muscle strength, balance, vision and other function areas of the brain, often resulting in faster recovery, faster results and improved outcomes.

Kassam has established a unique team and approach focused on creating integrated systems to identify, access and harvest stem (progenitor) cells in the difficult-to-access subcortical (below the surface) region of the brain. This “Six-Pillar approach” to parafascicular surgery of the white matter places emphasis on comprehensive management of subcortical lesions and economic resource optimization through surgical biometrics. The Six Pillars include: brain imaging and mapping; brain navigation; accessing the brain and tumor/lesion without harming brain tissue; using high-definition optics; removing the tumor without harming brain tissue; and collecting tissue for regenerative applications.

“We invest in tomorrow’s care because we truly want to change the way these conditions and diseases are cared for,” said Dr. Kassam. “This requires assembling the most advanced technology, the most gifted physicians and the most intellectually-curious scientists and engineers, and empowering them to deliver best-in-class patient care.”

Dr. Kassam’s work has led to the ability to navigate the millions of white matter fibers to harvest, characterize and re-engineer brain cancer cells in the hopes of leading toward improved longer term control for this devastating disease. He is passionate about this effort, which fits ideally with Aurora Research Institute initiatives and those of Aurora’s Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic.

Before joining Aurora, Dr. Kassam headed the Neurosurgery Department at the Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus. Prior to his arrival at Ottawa Hospital, he served as Chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery, Professor of Neurological Surgery, and Director, Minimally Invasive endoNeurosurgery Center (MINC), at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). In this role, he directed one of the world’s leading neurosurgical centers, consistently ranked as one of America’s best neuroscience facilities by U.S. News & World Report. He also was Director of the Center for Cranial Nerve Disorders at UPMC.

This model is now being replicated but in a more integrated manner, with technology being the driver. Since his arrival at Aurora, several key thought leaders in the field have committed to joining this effort and are relocating to Aurora, building an elite team.

Dr. Kassam has written two textbooks and more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, and has delivered more than 150 lectures. He has been recognized by numerous international societies and has been honored to deliver The Ginde Oration at Bombay Hospital, to serve as the Penfield Lecturer at the Canadian Neurosurgical Society, and to serve as Chair of the Skull Base Division of the Walter E. Dandy Neurological Society.

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve health care quality. Aurora offers services at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Aurora is Wisconsin's most comprehensive health care provider and the state's largest private employer. We serve more than 1.2 million patients every year via a comprehensive network of facilities, services and providers, including 15 hospitals, 159 clinics, 70 pharmacies and our amazing 30,000 Caregivers. As evidenced by our more than 400 active clinical trials, Aurora is dedicated to delivering innovations to provide the best possible care today, and to define the best care for tomorrow.

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Mo Moorman

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