Skip to content

Author: New Jersey Pediatric Neuroscience Institute

2019 Humanitarian Awards

Celebrating Dr. Catherine Mazzola being honored at the Seasons of Hope 2019 Humanitarian Awards Dinner.

The Hope For Children Research Foundation works hard to support children’s neurological and cancer research. Since 1985 the foundation has been successful in its mission to discover new treatments and cures for childhood neurological and cancer diseases. Dr. Catherine Mazzola was an 2019 honoree this year! This ceremony demonstrated the appreciation colleagues and patients have for all of the hard work Dr. Mazzola does to save children’s lives. A patient of ours stood in front of guests, on Saturday March 2, 2019, with confidence and shared her story of how Dr. Mazzola, her pediatric neurosurgeon, changed her life. She touched the hearts of the audience by sharing her journey and brought joy by showing how much she has grown from her experience into the lovely young woman she is today. We are proud of all Dr. Mazzola does for the families and children she treats and are grateful to watch our patients grow. 

Medical Reform In Ukraine Explained By A Brain Surgeon

Razom and The Ukrainian Medical Association of North America (UMANA) are pleased to welcome Dr. Igor Kurilets, Ukrainian neurosurgeon and Co-Pilot project participant in New York on March 18th at Caveat.

We asked Dr. Kurilets to share his experience with medical reform in Ukraine and talk about how he sees The evolution of medical education in Ukraine in the future.

After his presentation we will have a panel of local physicians join Dr. Kurilets on stage for a discussion about the collaboration between Ukrainian and American doctors.

Our panel will include:
Dr. Marta Lopatynsky, a board certified ophthalmologist and president of UMANA Metro Chapter.
Dr. Tina Goloborodko, Doctor of Internal Medicine and New York based activist working on Ukraine-related issues.
Dr. Luke Tomycz, pediatric neurosurgeon and Lead Physician with the Co-Pilot Project.
Mariya Soroka, President of Razom for Ukraine, will moderate the conversation.

Join us at Caveat on the Lower East Side in New York, a space that used to be a box theater. We warmly invite you to have an engaging conversation over drinks in a relaxed atmosphere. Ticket includes a complimentary drink.

Tickets are here:

See you on Monday, March 18th, doors open at 6:30pm. Program will start at 7pm.

The Ukrainian Medical Association of North America (UMANA), founded in 1950, is a voluntary non-profit association of professionals licensed to practice in their areas of health care in the United States and Canada. UMANA’s objectives are: 1. Unite health care professionals of Ukrainian descent, who share an interest in promoting the health of Ukrainians; 2. Share medical knowledge and scientific research with emphasis on aspects unique to Ukrainians.

The Co-Pilot Project (CPP) is an initiative within Razom for Ukraine that aims to address the significant deficit in high-quality neurosurgical and spine surgery training in Ukraine, a country of 45 million people in eastern Europe. Just as a co-pilot acts as another set of eyes and ears for the pilot, our mission is to send surgeons from North America to mentor and aid Ukrainian surgeons through difficult cases.​

Medical Marijuana


In the plant kingdom, there are angiosperms (kind of like ferns) that have flowers. In the Cannabaceae family, the plant genus Cannabis is also known as hemp, although this term is often used to refer only to varieties of Cannabis cultivated for non-drug use. Cannabis has long been used for hemp fiber, for hemp oils, for medicinal purposes, and as a recreational drug. Certain hemp products are made from cannabis plants selected to produce an abundance of fiber; whereas, other plants are selected for their abundance of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component. Some strains have been selectively bred to produce a concentrated form of THC (a cannabinoid). Various compounds, including hashish and hash oil, can be extracted from the plant.

Marijuana has been used for medicinal purposes as early as 2000 BC in Asia, the Mid-East and Europe. The phytocannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the most used pharmaceutical extracts. These compounds have been long used abroad, but are now being studied in the US for use in cancer pain, brain tumors, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and other psychological and neurological disorders.

While there have never been any reported marijuana overdose related deaths, there are side effects such as diarrhea, fatigue, changes in appetite and blood pressure, and others that have been identified.  Although we do know much about marijuana, we do not know yet how to quantify its use in an individual. As a mother and as a physician, that is a significant concern to me. We cannot determine the extent of usage, or abuse, by any known or available breathalyzer. There is no blood test to determine exactly how much medical or recreational marijuana was used or abused. So if someone who is using or abusing marijuana causes a motor vehicle accident, there is no medicolegal way to determine the driver’s state of mind or level of intoxication.  Do understand, that many substances and drugs, can be used safely or they can be abused. Alcohol is a drug, but we have a way to evaluate how much alcohol someone has consumed. We have breathalyzers and blood tests. We cannot quantify use or abuse of marijuana yet. That is a concern for physicians, healthcare providers, and law and order professionals. Even as an employer, we might need to know if our employees are safe: are they using a medication or drug safely, or are they abusing a pharmacoactive substance and coming to work in an unsafe manner?

I do believe that medical marijuana has a role in the treatment of many neurodegenerative and psychological disorders. There is no question in my mind that for addiction medicine, pain management, and the treatment of epilepsy, medical marijuana holds much promise.  Yet we should be dedicated to developing ways to evaluate the use and abuse of marijuana before we are so excited to allow the broad legalization of marijuana.  Just like any and every drug out there, it can be used safely or dangerously abused.

-by Dr. Cathy Mazzola