Park receives Society of Neurological Surgeons’ highest honor

T.S. Park, M.D., the chief of pediatric neurosurgery at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Shi Hui Huang Professor of Neurological Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has received the H. Richard Winn, M.D., Prize, the highest honor of the Society of Neurological Surgeons. The international award recognizes a neurosurgeon for outstanding research in the neurosciences that impacts clinical practice.

T.S. Park
T.S. Park

Park was recognized for accomplishments in both laboratory and clinical research.

In the laboratory, he has uncovered important new insights into how adenosine, a molecule involved in sleep regulation and other processes, regulates blood flow in the newborn brain. He has also studied how white blood cells can injure blood vessels in the newborn brain.

Park’s research in these areas has been funded by the National Institutes of Health for 22 consecutive years, including a period of support from the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke’s prestigious Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award.

In the clinic, Park has pioneered the use of selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) as a treatment for patients with spastic cerebral palsy (CP), the most common form of CP.

Muscles normally keep some degree of tension to maintain posture and facilitate movement, but patients with spastic CP have excessive muscle tension, leading to difficulty in standing, sitting and walking. The SDR procedure reduces spasticity in CP and improves motor functions by cutting nerve fibers.

Over the past 22 years, Park has performed SDR on more than 1,700 patients from 48 states and 38 countries, more than any other neurosurgeon in the world. He has developed new minimally invasive surgical techniques and contributed to worldwide acceptance of the SDR procedure. Additionally, with NIH funding, he and his team studied outcome of SDR to demonstrate its efficacy.

Two other neurosurgeons from Washington University have won a similar honor, known as the Grass Award. Ralph G. Dacey Jr., M.D., Henry G. and Edith R. Schwartz Professor of Neurological Surgery and head of the Department of Neurological Surgery, won the Grass Award in 2003; Robert L. Grubb Jr., M.D., Herbert Lourie Professor of Neurological Surgery and professor of radiation sciences, received it in 1990.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked third in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.