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April 13, 2021

UVA Health Elevated to Center of Excellence for Treating Cerebral Cavernous Malformations

The exterior of the hospital expansion at UVA Health University Medical Center.

The Angioma Alliance has elevated UVA Health to its highest designation as a Center of Excellence for its care of cerebral cavernous malformations – irregular collections of blood vessels in the brain that can cause seizures, paralysis and bleeding. UVA Health was initially recognized by the alliance as a Clinical Center in 2018 after creating a multidisciplinary treatment team dedicated to the disease.

UVA Health is the Angioma Alliance’s only Center of Excellence in Virginia and in the southeastern U.S. and one of just eight centers nationally. The alliance is an international organization for patients, clinicians and researchers dedicated to improving the treatment of cerebral cavernous malformations.

“Being recognized as a Center of Excellence took a lot of hard work and collaboration from many people here at UVA Health,” said Min Park, MD, a cerebrovascular neurosurgeon and medical director of UVA’s cerebral cavernous malformation program. “I appreciate everyone on our team who works to provide high-quality care for patients with these malformations.”

To earn this honor, UVA’s team had to meet criteria from the Angioma Alliance that include seeing more than 50 patients with cerebral cavernous malformations annually and offering a team of experts that specialize in caring for these patients. UVA recently added two specialists – pediatric neurologist Erika Axeen, MD, and neuro-ophthalmologist Nancy Vilar, MD, PhD – to its care team. The full UVA care team includes cerebrovascular neurosurgeons Park and Ryan Kellogg, MD, neurosurgery nurse practitioner Zuseen Rannigan, RN, MSN, FNP-BC, vascular neurologists Brad Worrall, MD, MSc, and Andrew Southerland, MD, dermatologist Barrett Zlotoff, MD, and medical geneticist Matthew Thomas, ScM.

Centers of Excellence must also be home to an active research program that is working to improve care for patients with these malformations. Ongoing research at UVA Health includes testing focused ultrasound, a scalpel-free alternative to traditional brain surgery that focuses sound waves inside the body, as a potential treatment. UVA researchers are also studying calcium signaling in endothelial cells derived from cerebral cavernous malformations.

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