New York, NY, Nov. 01, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Actress, singer and stage producer Phylicia Rashad is joining her brother Hugh Allen to raise awareness and find a cure for hydrocephalus, a chronic brain condition that has no cure and can only be treated with brain surgery. To bring attention to this issue, Phylicia and Hugh will join business leaders, philanthropists, scientists and patients at the Hydrocephalus Association Vision Dinner, held in New York City on Nov. 2. The Hydrocephalus Association’s annual Vision Dinner highlights advances in research that aim to prevent or minimize the development of hydrocephalus after a brain bleed.

Hugh became involved with the Hydrocephalus Association after his son Andrew was diagnosed with hydrocephalus. He recently became a member of the Hydrocephalus Association Board of Directors.

“Our family is grateful to the Hydrocephalus Association and the support that it provides to families and kids like our beloved Andrew. My sisters, Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad and I, are excited about the research progress made thus far and will continue to help raise awareness and funding to support the critical mission of the Hydrocephalus Association until there is a cure,” Hugh said.

The Vision Dinner serves as the central vehicle for supporting a focused research initiative into Post Hemorrhagic Hydrocephalus (PHH), a type of hydrocephalus that develops after a brain bleed. Hydrocephalus impacts over 1 million Americans and PHH is the most prevalent form of pediatric hydrocephalus, disproportionately impacting premature infants and relegating children to a lifetime of brain surgery as well as educational challenges.

The Hydrocephalus Association is the leading private, non-government funder of hydrocephalus research, investing over $8 million in innovative science to improve the lives of those living with hydrocephalus and find a cure for the condition. Jerold Chun, M.D., Ph.D., Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, is among the researchers who have received a seed grant from the Hydrocephalus Association to support their innovative work. He will receive the
Hydrocephalus Association’s 2018 Award for Leadership. At the Vision Dinner, Dr. Chun will discuss his efforts to test drugs that target a molecular pathway involved in the development of PHH. By blocking the activity of a specific compound found in blood, Dr. Chun hopes to stop the downstream effects of a brain bleed and prevent PHH. The goal is to develop a drug intervention that can be administered to any patient who has a brain bleed in order to prevent the development of hydrocephalus.

Jill Morris, Ph.D., Program Director, Division of Neuroscience, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, will receive the Hydrocephalus Association’s 2018 Award for Service. Dr. Morris’s disease research portfolio consists of multiple neurological disorders comprising the hydrocephalus; neural tube defects (spina bifida); leukodystrophies and lysosomal storage disorders; inborn errors of metabolism; and neurofibromatoses. 

One in every 770 babies develops hydrocephalus, a complex, life-threatening condition marked by excess accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid on the brain. However, anyone at any time can develop hydrocephalus from a brain injury, tumor, or infection, and some people over 60 develop Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, which is often, misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s, dementia or Parkinson’s. The primary treatment for hydrocephalus is the insertion of a device called a shunt –a small tube and a connected valve – into the brain to drain the excess cerebrospinal fluid to another part of the body. Shunts save lives, but frequently malfunction, become infected, or blocked. It is not uncommon for a person with hydrocephalus to have ten or more shunt-related brain surgeries throughout their lifetime, and some individuals will undergo more than 100 surgical procedures. Each surgery brings with it the risk of unknown long-term cognitive and health effects, and hydrocephalus can be fatal.

The evening is underwritten by Craig and Vicki Brown, generous benefactors to the Hydrocephalus Association, to ensure every dollar donated is allocated to advance hydrocephalus research.

About the Hydrocephalus Association  

Founded in 1983 by the parents of children with hydrocephalus, the Hydrocephalus Association (HA) is the nation’s largest and most widely respected organization dedicated to hydrocephalus. More than 60 percent of HA's funding comes from individual donations, and approximately 35 percent comes from foundation and corporate grants. HA began funding research in 2009 and has since granted over $8 million to research, making it the largest non-profit and non-governmental funder of hydrocephalus research in the United States. The Hydrocephalus Association's mission is to promote a cure for hydrocephalus and improve the lives of those affected by the condition.


Natalia Martinez
Hydrocephalus Association