A Very Special Partnership
"The amazing thing to me is that Dr. Greenfield, who is a neurosurgeon, is so dedicated to finding a treatment or cure for non-operable brain tumors," says Emma Hill, Elizabeth Minter's mother. "But that's what we find so inspiring about him — he cares so much about his patients."
From the very beginning, Dr. Greenfield and Elizabeth were a special team. Dr. Greenfield cares about the whole patient, not just their diseases, and his genuine concern for Elizabeth was apparent from the start. Elizabeth and her parents quickly came to trust and rely on his judgment, not just because of his impeccable credentials and experience but also because of his quiet confidence and compassionate bedside manner. He performed the biopsy in January 2011 to get a more exact diagnosis, then helped find the right neuro-oncologist. He even accompanied the family for their first meeting with the oncologist. The surgery may have been over, but Dr. Greenfield’s concern for Elizabeth was not.
Dr. Greenfield, a research scientist as well neurosurgeon, was still thinking of Elizabeth a few months later. He met with the family about how to improve treatment options for patients with these rare brain tumors, and told them about his vision for a dedicated laboratory to research them. In his research laboratory at the Weill Cornell Pediatric Brain and Spine Center, Dr. Greenfield explained, his team is already studying the cellular mechanisms driving the transformation of low-grade astrocytomas (the most common benign brain tumor in children) into malignant tumors. He is looking at the events that stimulate neo-angiogenesis, or new blood supply to the tumors, with the intention of designing novel therapies to keep tumors in a benign state indefinitely.
But Dr. Greenfield had another vision: A dedicated laboratory where the very best neuroscience researchers would use state-of-the-art gene sequencing technology to find cures for rare and inoperable brain cancers in children, teens, and young adults. Knowing that some tumors are too rare to attract major funding, Dr. Greenfield proposed a laboratory dedicated to only those cancers — a place where science could create hope for families like Elizabeth’s.
Dr. Greenfield has been committed to his field since his undergraduate studies at Amherst College, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Neuroscience. He received his MD and PhD degrees from the Weill Medical College and Graduate School of Medical Sciences — his laboratory mentor during his PhD was Paul Greengard at The Rockefeller University, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2000. Dr. Greenfield completed his Neurosurgery residency at The NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. During residency he was awarded a scientific fellowship with Howard Hughes Scientist Shahin Rafii in Stem Cell Biology at the Ansary Center for Stem Cell Therapeutics.
Out of Dr. Greenfield commitment and vision, and Elizabeth's and her parents desire to find purpose in her illness, Elizabeth's Hope was born. With some money and time, Dr. Greenfield and his team hope to achieve Elizabeth's dream: A cure for gliomatosis cerebri and other inoperable brain tumors. He believes, as does Elizabeth, that these children and adolescents deserve more attention, and that every family needs hope for their child.
Won't you help us reach our goals?
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