Richard D. Penn, MD, FAANS (L)

Clinical Advisory Board Member
Richard Deren Penn is a professor of neurosurgery at Rush Medical School in Chicago and of bioengineering at UIC, having retired from clinical practice in 2010. He is particularly interested in the use of drug pumps to treat movement disorders, spasticity and pain. He is probably best known for originating and then proving the efficacy of intrathecal baclofen for spinal spasticity. Dr. Penn has published several studies related to hydrocephalus in peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Neurosurgery and Pediatric Neurosurgery, and is a contributing author to Surgical Management of Adult Hydrocephalus Operative Neurosurgical Techniques. 5th Edition. Dr. Penn began doing basic research in medical school at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He demonstrated for the first time that liver cells are electrically coupled. At the National Institute of Health, working with William Hagins, he showed that rod cells hyperpolarize with light and found the source of the "dark current" of the retina. During his residency at the Neurological Institute at Columbia, his research began to focus on the use of new technology in neurosurgery. With Dr. Hilal in neuroradiology, he worked on techniques to occlude cerebral blood vessels with catheters and glues. When CT scanning began in the 1970s, he devised an image processing system using CT scans for stereotaxic biopsies. He also used subtraction CT scans to measure regional cerebral blood volumes. In 1982, he implanted the first programmable pump to deliver drugs to the nervous system. The technique was used initially to deliver morphine to treat intractable cancer pain. Later baclofen was given by drug pump to treat intractable spasticity. The intrathecal delivery of baclofen was approved by the FDA in 1991. In that same year, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded Penn an Orphan Drug Award for his work on baclofen. Presently, he is working on neurotrophic medications for Parkinson's disease and the distribution of IT and intra-parencyhimal drugs.

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