Andrew Hale News Article Lead ImageUAB Department of Neurosurgery PGY2 Resident Andrew T. Hale, M.D., Ph.D., was awarded the Robert J. Dempsey, M.D., Cerebrovascular Research Award by the AANS/CNS Section on Cerebrovascular Surgery.

Hale will receive the $15,000 grant for his study, "Elucidating the genetic basis of vein of Galen Malformation," at the 2024 AANS/CNS Cerebrovascular Joint Section meeting. 

"I am honored to be selected for the Robert J. Dempsey, M.D., Cerebrovascular Research Award from the AANS/CNS. This grant will enable our continued efforts to understand the genetic basis of VOGM," said Hale. 

Vein of Galen malformation (VOGM) is the among the most severe vascular anomalies affecting the pediatric brain and there are fundamental gaps in the understanding of the genetic and molecular basis of VOGM that impede therapeutic development. 

Through his research, Hale’s goal is to address these obstacles by elucidating the genetic basis of VOGM through identification of germline and somatic mutations through in situ analysis of the VOGM lesion enabled by endoluminal tissue sampling (ETS.) Hale credits Assistant Professor Jesse Jones, M.D., for his instrumental support in repurposing ETS for VOGM, the key methodological advance for this work.

To acquire what Hale deems a “critical mass of genetic information,” he will further his research and establish the VOGM Genetics Research Consortium (VOGM-GRC) with an endorsement from the International Pediatric Stroke Organization, additional funding from the Aneurysm and AVM Foundation, the Joe Niekro Foundation and the Kaul Pediatric Research Institute at Children’s of Alabama, and industry support from Balt and Medtronic. 

“Our central hypothesis is that inadequate access to VOGM tissue in situ hinders the identification of somatic mutations responsible for VOGM pathogenesis and maintenance,” said Hale. 

“Successful completion of these [research] aims will advance genetic characterization of VOGM, form the basis of a multi-institutional collaborative network and provide essential preliminary data for NIH funded studies aimed at mechanistic validation and eventual drug-discovery.”