This month, inspired by the 50 Million Faces campaign, we asked BWHers who work with patients who have neurological diseases and on research related to the brain to tell us more about their work and inspiration.

LWT-ChoiFongCho (2)

Choi-Fong Cho

“I am a neuro-oncology scientist at BWH working on implementing advanced technology to design and develop novel brain cancer therapeutics. My friend, Steven who was diagnosed with a grade II astrocytoma last year, has undergone surgical excision of the tumor and is currently receiving proton and chemo-therapy. Using his own personal experience in his journey to battle brain cancer, Steven has inspired countless number of people who have been affected by this disease or are working in the neuro-oncology field. Utilizing his own data from scans and tissue samples, Steven sought to gain a better understanding, as well as to promote awareness for this disease to the world. Having dedicated my career path to fight brain cancer, I am deeply inspired and touched by the positive attitude and strength that I see in him. I am truly encouraged that every bit of hard work from us will lead to scientific and clinical progress that can ultimately put this disease to an end.”

-Choi-Fong Cho, PhD, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Department of Neurosurgery

Du, Rose MD PhD

Rose Du

“Our research is focused on the genetic underpinnings of cerebrovascular diseases, namely stroke and intracranial aneurysms.  With an increased understanding of how to protect the brain’s blood vessels and nerve cells, we hope to find innovative methods of prevention, early detection, as well as treatment of these diseases.”

-Rose Du, MD, PhD, Director of Cerebrovascular Surgery, Department of Neurosurgery

Vincent Vacca

Vince Vacca

“My involvement in the specialty of Neuroscience Nursing began by chance, when as a traveler RN I accepted a 13 week assignment in the Neuro-ICU here at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. That unplanned decision made 10 years ago forever changed the course of my professional nursing career and impacted me in ways I could not have imagined or predicted at the time.  As part of a team of dedicated, compassionate, intelligent and creative colleagues I have had the privilege to contribute to the care of extraordinary people who we call our patients and their families. I have witnessed patients recover from conditions that was not possible just a few years ago. I have also witnessed patients experiencing a sudden, unexpected, non-survivable neurologic event that leads to an unplanned but peaceful and dignified death. But for these patients, our team, working with their family, can offer them the option to donate organs and by so doing, these incredible people provide the ‘gift of life’ to others. For these reasons and many more I am honored to be both a Brigham and Women’s nurse and member of the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit team.”

-Vince Vacca, MSN, RN, CCRN, SCRN, Nurse Educator, Neuroscience ICU

Reisa Sperling

Reisa Sperling

“When I was in medical school, my grandfather developed dementia, and watching him fade away convinced me to make Alzheimer’s research my life’s work. I vowed I would find a cure before it ensnared my father, but about a year ago, he was diagnosed. Alzheimer’s disease is a war, and we are losing, but I am going after it with two fists. We are actively enrolling patients in the A4 study to advance our understanding of how to combat this disease. This study has the potential to fundamentally change the way we treat people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.”

-Reisa Sperling, MD, MMSc, Director of Clinical Research, Memory Disorders Unit, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

The following is a submission reposted from #50MillionFaces:

HowardWeiner“Here’s my mother and I in the Colorado Rockies just before she developed Alzheimer’s disease. She knew I was a “famous doctor” working on multiple sclerosis. After she developed Alzheimer’s disease, her mind became clouded and all she knew was that she had a brain disease and that her son was a brain doctor. She said to me, “Howie, can’t you help me with this?” Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do at that time. But now we can do something through the work we are doing at the Ann Romney Center so others won’t have to experience what she went through. I am proud to be the Co-Director of the Ann Romney Center with my colleague and dear friend, Dr. Dennis Selkoe. The Ann Romney Center brings hope to all those suffering from brain diseases.”
-Howard Weiner, MD, Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program, Co-Director of the Ann Romney Center

To read more #50MillionFaces stories and to share yours, please visit