PNA Spotlight: Dr. Jonathan Forbes
Dr. Jonathan Forbes is a respected neurosurgeon and an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the University of Cincinnati. He did his undergraduate work at Grove City College. After 9/11, began the Health Professions Scholarship Program with the United States Air Force. Later he pursued his M.D, at the University of Pittsburgh. He completed a residency in neurosurgery at Vanderbilt University. He then spent 4 years in the U.S. Air Force, including a deployment at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. Humanitarian care he provided at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital in Bagram has been featured in numerous neurosurgical journals—including Journal of Neurosurgery, World Neurosurgery and Neurosurgical Focus—and recognized on a national level by the USAF as part of the “Through Airmen’s Eyes” series. He later completed a minimally-invasive skull base fellowship at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City under Dr. Theodore Schwartz. Dr. Forbes was kind enough to answer some questions from the PNA. His answers follow.
What inspired you to choose your career path?
A medical mission trip in college confirmed a long-standing calling to the medical profession. As a medical student, I developed a passion for neuroanatomy and physiology that guided me to the discipline of neurosurgery. In residency, I discovered I wanted to dedicate my life to helping patients with pituitary tumors and other pathologies of the cranial base. I went on to complete a fellowship that focused on minimally invasive skull base surgery: the centerpiece of this fellowship involved surgical treatment of pituitary tumors.
What is the primary focus of your work/research?
My primary clinical focus involves treating patients with pituitary tumors and other forms of pathology of the cranial base. The research I perform supplements this clinical focus. As director of the UC Goodyear Laboratory, I am actively investigating ways to improve the safety and effectiveness of minimally invasive skull base procedures. In particular, we are interested in developing newer and less invasive surgical techniques to improve historical methods of treatment. We are also interested in improving closure and healing following surgical techniques currently in use for resection of pituitary tumors.
What do you consider to be the future of your field?
I believe that future advances will come through multidisciplinary collaboration. Improvements in the understanding of molecular pathways associated with tumor-specific growth will lead to an increase in the use of medical therapy for treatment of some pituitary tumors. Advances in neuroimaging will lead to improved diagnosis and anatomic understanding of hormonally-active pituitary microadenomas. I believe that with time, minimally-invasive, keyhole approaches utilizing 3-D endoscopy will increasingly be applied in lieu of comparatively more invasive, traditional microsurgical approaches for pathology of the cranial base.
What should patients know about your field/what deserves more recognition/awareness?
Undoubtedly, surgical care for pituitary tumors is best delivered at pituitary centers of excellence – where a multi-disciplinary team is available to help individualize patient care and optimize treatment. I would encourage patients with pituitary tumors to seek out these high-volume centers.
What would you like to convey about yourself to your patients?
I consider it an incredible privilege to take care of patients with pituitary tumors. I understand the prospect of a neurosurgical intervention can be a very unnerving thing. I have dedicated my life to making sure the surgical intervention we provide is gentle, safe, and effective.
Why did you get involved with the PNA and what is the extent of your involvement?
The PNA is a fantastic avenue for patients with pituitary tumors to educate themselves about the medical and/or surgical care that is best for them. I have previously contributed to online content through the PNA and hope to continue to do so for many years to come.