National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Dr. John Heiss, Chief, Surgical Neurology Branch of the NINDS at the National Institutes of Health, has an appointment as Professor of Neurosurgery at The George Washington University and is working with the Department to ensure an optimal residency research experience. The resident has the opportunity to pursue basic research projects at the NIH on a fixed rotation. This collaborative relationship allows for the integration of projects at GW with ongoing projects at NIH.
The responsibilities of the members of the Surgical Neurology Branch (SNB) include performance of original research, neurosurgical care for patients at the NIH Clinical Center, training of young investigators, collaboration when expertise in neurosurgery is needed by members in other branches and laboratories of NINDS and other institutes as well as serving as a resource for neurosurgical expertise for NINDS and NIH.
The research performed in the SNB emphasizes the use of advances in basic biology to understand clinical disease and for the development of new therapies for disorders of the nervous system. Considerations for selection of research topics also include the need for breadth in the program to maintain clinical skills by the neurosurgical staff and for the development of clinical knowledge and skills by neurosurgical resident trainees.

Research Interests

The research activities include clinical and clinically-oriented basic and translational research by the Clinical Section. Clinical studies of conditions involving neurosurgical intervention, including brain tumors, pituitary tumors, syringomyelia, von Hippel-Lindau disease and arteriovenous malformations of the spinal cord are ongoing. Activities include investigation of a new delivery technique to perfuse targeted regions of the brain. We have developed and used this technique in a clinical study using recombinant immunotoxins to treat malignant brain tumors. We have completed laboratory studies using excitotoxins to selectively eliminate neuronal cell populations in models of epilepsy and Parkinson's disease. Clinical studies are being developed to use this technique in the investigation of patients with medically intractable epilepsy and in the treatment of patients with Parkinson's disease. The genetics of familial Chiari I malformation is being examined. Potential therapeutic uses of nitric oxide for cerebral vasospasm and opening of the blood-brain barrier are being investigated.


Brain Tumors, Pituitary Tumors, and Tumors of the Peripheral Nervous System
03-N-0164:  Evaluation and Treatment of Neurosurgical Disorders
16-N-0041:  Tumor Related Epilepsy
18-N-0087:  Cytokine Microdialysis for Real-Time Immune Monitoring in Glioblastoma Patients Undergoing Checkpoint Blockade  
18-N-0133:  Feasibility of Endosphenoidal Coil Placement for Imaging of the Sella During Transsphenoidal Surgery

11-N-0051:  Surgery as a Treatment for Medically Intractable Epilepsy
02-N-0014:  Research Study of Specimens Obtained During Epilepsy Surgery
15-N-0081:  A Study of Direct Brain Recording and Stimulation for Memory Enhancement

Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders
11-N-0211:  DBS Surgery for Movement Disorders
12-N-0137:  A Phase 1 Open-Label Dose Escalation Safety Study of Convection Enhanced Delivery (CED) of Adeno-Associated Virus Encoding Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (AAV2-GDNF) in Subjects with Advanced Parkinson's Disease

Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2)
08-N-0044:   A Prospective Natural History Study of Patients with Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2)

Von Hippel Lindau (VHL)
00-N-0140:   A Prospective Natural History Study of von Hippel Lindau (VHL) Patients w/ CNS Hemangioblastomas

10-N-0143:   A Prospective Natural History Study of Patients with Syringomyelia
00-N-0089:   Genetic Analysis of Arnold Chiari Malformation

Cancer Pain
15-N-0175:   A Multicenter, Open-Label, Phase 1b Safety and Efficacy Trial of Periganglionic Resiniferatoxin (RTX) for the Treatment of Cancer-induced bone pain
09-N-0039:   A Phase I Study of Intrathecal Resiniferatoxin (RTX) for Cancer Pain

For more information on NIH Neurosurgery research/protocols: