November 2021 – At a banquet held at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, PA, Drs. Joseph Maroon and Gene Myers were honored as founders for skull base surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dr. Myers and Dr. Maroon have generously has also contributed to an endowed chair to Drs. Carl Snyderman and Dr. Paul Gardner’s skull-base surgery research in the Department of Otolaryngology. The chair will be named The Dr. Gene Myers and Dr. Joseph Maroon Chair in Skull Base Surgery.
Pioneers Establishing a Legacy for Skull Base
In 1975, Dr. Eugene Myers, now Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Otolaryngology and Emeritus Chair, Department of Otolaryngology, saw a patient who had been referred by a radiation oncologist. She had cancer originating in her hard palate and had endured 17 operations and two courses of radiation therapy. She complained of severe, unrelenting pain. Unfortunately, Dr. Myers’ exam revealed residual cancer in several areas. Having recently read an article by Dr. Alfred Ketchum, a well-known surgical oncologist at the National Institutes of Health, in which he described a new technique called the Cranial Facial Approach, Dr. Myers felt he could do the transfacial portion of the surgery on this patient. First, he needed to collaborate with a neurosurgeon who could do the cranial aspect.
“I walked over to the office of Dr. Joseph Maroon, a newly minted
neurosurgeon who I had known during his training and whose character,
surgical skills, and judgment I admired,” Dr. Myers recalled.
Dr. Maroon was a bit surprised when Dr. Myers said he had a patient scheduled for this daring surgery, but he said he was in. The surgery went well with no complications. The patient lived free of pain for a number of years. Based on their early success, Dr. Myers led the efforts to establish a Center for Cranial Base Surgery, the first of its kind in North America. With the recruitment of additional faculty, Pittsburgh rapidly became the destination for such patients from the U.S. and abroad. Over the years, the leadership of the Center for Cranial Base Surgery has changed.
Currently, the Co-Directors are Drs. Carl Snyderman and Paul Gardner. They have carried out thousands of operations using a less invasive technique called endoscopic endonasal surgery, removing tumors from the base of the skull without needing external incisions. The need to refine this existing technique, conduct further research in the pathophysiology of these tumors (some quite rare), and train young doctors requires considerable funding, which could be provided from the endowment of a Chair. “This would provide sustainability for this important endeavor,” says Dr. Myers.
To that end, Drs. Maroon and Myers are each making significant contributions and will help raise additional support to establish “Pioneers in Skull Base Surgery.” To endow a Chair at Pitt/UPMC is $2 million. Once $1 million has been raised, UPMC agreed to match the funds up to $1 million. Fundraising is already underway to reach the total amount so that Dr. Carl Snyderman, who is Professor of Otolaryngology, Neurological Surgery, Bioengineering, and Vice-Chair for Quality & Patient Safety, can officially hold the Chair. Once Dr. Maroon retires, the Chair will be known as the Eugene N. Myers and Joseph C. Maroon Chair in Skull Base Surgery. UPMC has been designated as a 2021 Multidisciplinary Team of Distinction by the North American Skull Base Society (NASBS).
“Dr. Maroon and I are thrilled to lend our names to the establishment of the Eugene N. Myers and Joseph C. Maroon Chair in Skull Base Surgery,” Dr. Myers said. “It means a great deal to us that our pioneering efforts in establishing the University of Pittsburgh as the world’s center for this unique surgery are being recognized in this way.” Dr. Maroon said he’s doing this to honor Dr. Carl Snyderman, who he called the consummate caregiver, physician, and surgeon, as well as one of the most creative minds in his specialty. As for the recipient of this honor, Dr. Snyderman recognized Dr. Myers’ leadership and called him a mentor and role model. “With this Chair, I hope to continue his legacy of surgical innovation,” he said.
For more information on Skull-base Surgery at UPMC go to HERE.