UVA Neurosurgery Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are critical to finding better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat neurological disorders.  They help us to move basic scientific research from the laboratory into actual treatments that help patients.  Patients coming to UVA can have a better chance of successful treatment because UVA runs and participates in many clinical trials.

Dr. Kenneth Liu is leading a phase II trial for the treatment of vasospasm after stroke using sodium nitrite, building on a promising phase I trial led by our Dr. Ed Oldfield in collaboration with the NIH.  Dr. Liu is also leading a trial (SCENT) to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a new stent in the treatment of aneurysms, and another trial (MISTIE) of minimally invasive surgery with rt-PA to treat intracerebral hemorrhage.  Our stroke team, as well as our neuro-oncology and spine teams, are involved in most all major national clinical trials in their subspecialty, giving our patients uncommon access to treatments not available at other regional hospitals.  In some cases, we are the only hospital in the state or country with access — indeed, our neurosurgeons have been the only physicians in the country allowed to use nitrite for vasospasm.

Drs. Neal Kassell, Jeff Elias and Jason Sheehan are leading the development of high-intensity focused ultrasound technology, which has exciting potential for drug delivery and to treat tumors, stroke, and movement disorders non-invasively. Dr. Elias’s first clinical trial to treat patients with Essential Tremor is believed to have been the first intracranial therapeutic application of the technology in the world, and its favorable results have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Elias is currently enrolling patients in a trial to treat tremor-dominant Parkinson’s and multiple other focused ultrasound trials are enrolling or in development.

Frequently Asked Questions about Clinical Trials

Our department chairman Mark Shaffrey is the hands-on medical director of our trials office that also has an administrative director, 5 clinical research coordinators, and several more dedicated support staff.  We have recently been conducting or collaborating on new drug and device trials with NIH, the Christopher Reeve Foundation, GE Healthcare, Genentech, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Novartis, Medtronic, Amgen, and with many smaller companies on the cusp of medical breakthroughs.

You can learn more about all clinical trials being performed by all specialties across UVA at the UVA clinical trials search page.