Penn State Hershey Neuroscience Institute, has a global perspective when it comes to providing quality, multi-disciplinary care. This is best represented by the Institute’s expansive global exchange program among neuroscience clinicians and researchers, spanning four continents. Every neurosurgical resident is given the opportunity to hone his or her skills abroad, and almost half choose to do so. The primary exchange program is with the Bureau of Public Health in Tianjin, China, a formal relationship that began in 2006. Through a grant funded by Integra Foundation, eight Penn State Hershey Medical Center faculty members have studied there, while thirty-four exchange students have learned alongside Penn State College of Medicine faculty.
The exchange program functions as part of a developing program to encourage collaboration between clinicians and researchers at Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Tianjin’s largest hospitals. These reciprocal relationships enable providers to share best practices and advanced technology to improve patient outcomes. From a clinical standpoint, foreign physicians can gain experience with virtually every neurosurgical procedure that is currently performed at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. In the research arena, groundbreaking studies are being conducted through the Center for Neural Engineering and Penn State Hershey Neurosurgery laboratory. Research is ongoing in neurodegenerative disease, brain iron deficiency, brain tumors, epilepsy, and brain-machine interfaces. Physicians from the US and China also collaborate on clinical trials, mutually benefiting with shared data from their genetically disparate populations.
Formal relationships also exist with the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, Australia, where residents can train for up to one year, and CURE Children’s Hospital in Uganda and Zambia in East Africa. Penn State Hershey shares an informal resident exchange program with Taipei Medical University in Taiwan, and is in the process of forming an exchange program with the All India Institutes of Medical Science in New Delhi, India. Over the years, Penn State Hershey has sent ten residents to participate in these programs and has hosted sixteen physicians and investigators from these additional partnerships. Says Robert Harbaugh, M.D., professor and chair, Penn State Hershey Neurosurgery and director, Penn State Hershey Neuroscience Institute, “The institution has been hugely supportive of neuroscience in general and neurosurgery in particular over the last decade. That support, including the support for these valuable international exchange programs, has helped us to become a much more internationally recognized neurosurgical department.”
Since 2003, neurosurgery at Penn State Hershey has grown from a small division of the surgery department to its current status as its own department with twenty-two clinical and eight research faculty members, a thriving residency program of fourteen residents, and five subspecialty fellowships. The exchange program aligns well with the core mission of Penn State Hershey Neurosurgery: to advance education, clinical expertise, and research. This unique combination brings strength to the Neuroscience Institute to provide the best care for even the most clinically complex patients.
Robert E. Harbaugh, M.D., FAANS, FACS, FAHA
Director, Penn State Hershey Neuroscience Institute
Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Penn State Hershey Neurosurgery
Professor, Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics
RESIDENCY: Neurological Surgery, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center
MEDICAL SCHOOL: Penn State College of Medicine