By Patricia Yollin | ucsf.edu | September 5, 2012
UCSF neurosurgeon Mitchel Berger has operated on close to 4,000 brains in 28 years. He compares it to walking through a minefield.
“There are so many things that can get tripped off. The brain doesn’t have signposts,” said Berger, MD, FACS, FAANS, professor and chair of the UCSF Department of Neurological Surgery and director of the UCSF Brain Tumor Center.
To improve neural navigation, he pioneered two brain-mapping techniques that have transformed approaches to tumor surgery. That’s why Berger will be among the UCSF physicians and scientists appearing Thursday, Sept. 20 at Dreamforce 2012 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, leading separate sessions that address one theme: “Innovating to Improve Health Outcomes.”
After an introduction to the “UCSF: Unusual Thinkers” track by UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, and Mark Laret, chief executive officer of UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, Desmond-Hellmann will explore social media’s potential to make a difference in personal and global health.
The four-day Dreamforce event will be staged for the tenth year in a row by salesforce.com founder Marc Benioff. He and his wife, Lynne, donated $100 million to help build a new children’s hospital at UCSF Mission Bay, which will open February 1, 2015.
Game-Changing Neurosurgeon Learns Lessons From Football
Berger, current president of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, will discuss his breakthroughs in brain mapping, which help avoid damage to motor, language and sensory functions. First, he pioneered subcortical mapping, which allows surgeons to find neural pathways deep inside. “Early mapping just found the head of the jellyfish,” he said. “I found the tentacles.”
Then he came up with the concept of negative mapping. “Imagine there’s a tumor at the 50-yard line, and the tumor is as big as a football,” he said. “With the standard mapping we used, you had to start on the goal line and map the entire field looking for a positive site somewhere.”
Berger decided to focus down, mapping from the 40-yard line to the 40-yard line. It was a game-changing move, much like his earlier discovery.