Q&A with Dr. Sonia Podvin, Team Hydro Hero!

SoniaheadshotDr Sonia Podvin was the recipient of the first ever TEAM HYDRO-sponsored research grant back in 2010.  Since that time she has stayed close to hydrocephalus not only in the lab, but in her wetsuit as well — she’ll be taking the plunge in a few weeks (for the 3rd time!!) when Team Hydro swims from Alcatraz on June 4th!   We caught up with Dr. Podvin to see how she was doing!

 

TEAM HYDRO: Could you tell us a little about your research, your interests in neuroscience, and how they relate to hydrocephalus?

Dr. Podvin:  My research in neuroscience has focused on uncovering molecular mechanisms that can be a “switch” between brain health and brain disease. As a pharmacologist, I believe that identifying drugs that can help flip the switch to health can potentially be a huge benefit for hydrocephalus, by reducing brain inflammation and events that lead to progressive degeneration. As we all know hydrocephalus is more than just a “plumbing problem” it is a whole brain disease!

TEAM HYDRO:  How did you get involved in hydrocephalus research?

Dr. Podvin:  While working with three amazing mentors in the at UCSD, we identified a potential molecular switch that, in animals, behaved one way in the healthy brain, but differently in brain disease models. In one model, the result was enlarged brain ventricles. My mentors encouraged me to apply for the Mentored Young Investigator Award from the Hydrocephalus Association, which I was so honored to receive in 2010.

TEAM HYDRO:  How has learning about hydrocephalus affected you personally and professionally?

Dr. Podvin:  Learning about difficulties so many patients with hydrocephalus face every day was heartbreaking. It seemed that the reality of living with a shunt was never knowing when it could fail, and that could mean surgery or infection. The few drugs available to treat hydrocephalus were limited in effectiveness, not safe for more than a short time, or effected other organs. My hopes for my future in continuing hydrocephalus research is to apply advanced technology and innovative approaches in pharmaceutical sciences to identify safe, effective and specific drugs for treating hydrocephalus, that can reduce the number of surgeries, decrease complications or treat hydrocephalus without surgery.

TEAM HYDRO:  How did your connection with TEAM HYDRO develop outside the lab?

Dr. Podvin:  After I received the research grant enabled by TEAM HYDRO, I met the Finlayson family when they came to visit our lab at UCSD, and they invited me to become a member of Team Hydro to support research outside of the lab as well. It is a small thing I can do to help the community effort to continue critical research efforts. I was never on a swim team, I knew how to swim but that was the limit of my abilities. I started swimming about 100 yards at a time in the warm, calm San Diego bay with a friend from UCSD. S-L-O-W-L-Y, I worked my way up to swimming two miles. In 2015, I jumped into the (cold!) San Francisco bay with the other Team Hydro members for the first time. I have such admiration for our team members with hydrocephalus that swim through the rough, cold water effortlessly with incredible times!

TEAM HYDRO:  Beyond the incredible people living (and swimming and thriving) with hydrocephalus, what motivates you to keep swimming with TEAM HYDRO?

Dr. Podvin:  I continue to swim to support the research initiatives of the Hydrocephalus Association. The funding programs are focused to address critical needs in understanding mechanisms and outcomes of hydrocephalus, creating databases and biobanks, with the goal of finding a cure. These research programs help to generate the data necessary for researchers to obtain larger grants from federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health and for young scientists to begin careers in hydrocephalus research. Swimmer or not, we can all help research efforts by getting involved in grassroots advocacy to educate our Congress members about hydrocephalus, request increased support for programs that fund hydrocephalus research, and to again designate hydrocephalus as eligible to receive Congressionally Directed Medical Research Funds.

TEAM HYDRO: Dr. Podvin, we certainly do not consider what you are doing as a “small thing.”  To us at Team Hydro, and to ALL those suffering from hydrocephalus, you are TEAM HYDRO HERO!  You’re seeking to help both inside AND outside the lab —  we consider that a very BIG thing –for which we could not be more grateful!!

Thank you Dr. Podvin!!  We are honored to have you as a part of the TEAM HYDRO family!!

Fellow swimmers–look for Sonia (aka Dr. Podvin) on swim day–not only is she a fabulous researcher–she is a great person to get to know!

Go Team Hydro!  Together we can CURE hydrocephalus!

 

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Dolphins to Dash (in the pool) Again for Hydrocephalus!

In yet another amazing demonstration of commitment, generosity, and strength, The Dorset Dolphin Swim Team of Marietta, Georgia will once again enter the water and swim for two hours straight in order to raise funds and awareness for hydrocephalus research!!  This year’s swim will take place on June 17th.

The Dorset Dolphins are a summer age-group Swim Team who have committed themselves not simply to becoming better swimmers, but to using their combined strength to help and serve others!  Team Hydro could not be more proud of this inspiring group of kids (and their wonderful families, friends, and neighbors) which last year raised over $4000 for hydrocephalus research in their very first Dolphin Dash–Swim for Hydrocephalus!

The Dolphins know first hand about hydrocephalus because they Swim in special support of three wonderful young people who are living with shunted hydrocephalus–fellow swimmers, Lilly and Parker, and Charlie, the one year old nephew of their coach!  Knowing these wonderful young swimmers, and witnessing the challenges they face first hand,  makes the need for hydrocephalus research all the more urgent to this determined and caring group of swimmers!!

The Dolphins have chosen to Swim for Hydrocephalus because they are very aware that people with hydrocephalus face some extra challenges in life–including living with an incurable life-threatening condition, the uncertainty of knowing that the medical device they depend on could fail at any time, and the harsh reality that multiple emergency brain surgeries will likely become a part of life.   But the Dolphins are also very aware that people with hydrocephalus are vibrant and fun human beings just like everyone else!

Team Hydro is so grateful to each and every Dolphin (as well as their on-land supporters) who are helping to ensure that one day, a CURE for hydrocephalus Will be found!  We welcome each and every Dolphin to the Team Hydro Family!! 

If you are a swimmer, you can find information on the swim HERE and learn how to register and set up your fundraising page HERE!

If you would like to DONATE to the Dolphin Dash for Hydrocephalus you can do that HERE!

Thanks Dolphins!!! You are the BEST!!!

The Dolphin Dash– Swim for Hydrocephalus   Donate Now!

Dad Crosses Continent to Swim for Son with Hydrocephalus!

For many Alcatraz swimmers, crossing the San Francisco Bay is an adventure of a lifetime.  But for proud Dad, Chris Haslett, his Alcatraz swim may well seem a small one in a series of challenges.  Chris’ 7 year old son, Lake, is living with shunted hydrocephalus, which means the Haslett family is no stranger to meeting daily challenges with courage and strength. Chris is proving his resolve yet again by traveling all the way from Grimsby, Ontario, Canada to swim with Team Hydro, to raise awareness and funds for hydrocephalus research!

The Haslett family began its journey with hydrocephalus in 2009, when, at only 7 weeks of age, Chris’ son, Lake, was diagnosed with hydrocephalus caused by an inoperable Glioma brain tumor. While the tumor was benign, it was imperative that the hydrocephalus be treated by the placement of a shunt in Lake’s brain, as the pressure from the increasing hydrocephalus was life-threatening.  The brain shunt worked well for 8 months. Then the device failed, causing Lake to need more brain surgery to replace the broken shunt. This began a series of complications that are all too common for hydrocephalus patients, including a surgery which caused Lake to suffer a severe brain bleed.  That complication then required additional surgeries to ensure Lake’s shunt remained working properly.

FYI–Statistics show that half of shunts fail within 2 years–the shunt is the most prone to failure medical device implanted in humans!

The above scenario would be plenty to discourage most families, but not the Hasletts.  They have continued to face and meet challenges through the years, until Lake, who continues to live with both his (still benign) tumor and  his shunt, is  now a lively and happy 7 year old boy, who loves swimming, making music on the piano, and playing with his brother, Oak!

But first hand experience with the reality that life-threatening shunt failure can occur at any moment, and awareness of the fact that hydrocephalus has no cure, has caused Chris Haslett to realize the desperate need for hydrocephalus research to continue.  He is swimming Alcatraz to help push that research forward!!  

We are so proud to welcome Chris (and his family) as members of Team Hydro!  We are so impressed and grateful by their willingness to come all the way from Canada to raise awareness and funds for hydrocephalus research!  

We look forward to meeting Chris, his wife Helena, and sons Oak and Lake in San Francisco on June 4th!  

If you would like to help Chris and his family find a cure for hydrocephalus you can donate to Team Hydro and  support the cause HERE!

Lake Haslett Collage

Team Hydro prepares for 10th Annual Alcatraz Swim!

After weathering record-breaking rainfall over the winter, the San Francisco Bay is deeper and colder than ever–making conditions even more unpredictable and exciting for Team Hydro’s 10th Annual Alcatraz Swim for Hydrocephalus on Sunday, June 4th!

This year’s Team Hydro Alcatraz Team will feature 100 brave Team Hydro swimmers, each of whom will be jumping off the ferry and into the churning bay — not simply for the “street cred” which comes from completing an Alcatraz swim — but to raise funds and awareness for Hydrocephalus Research!

Team Hydro athletes swim to help others —and we ARE making an impact!! Team Hydro is currently funding hydrocephalus research at leading centers around the world (from the US to Australia!), and we look forward to raising enough funds to support more future projects from our 2017 swims!

Returning to the swim will be hydrocephalus patients Kyle Voulgaris and Kate Damrell, who demonstrate, not simply through their swimming, but every single day, the resilience and fortitude of those living with shunted hydrocephalus! Both of these young people have endured numerous brain surgeries and live with the ever-present uncertainty of looming life-threatening medical emergency.

Team Hydro is also thrilled to be welcoming first-time Alcatraz swimmer, Chris Haslett from Ontario, Canada who will be swimming in honor of his 7 year old son, Lake, who has been living with shunted hydrocephalus since he was an infant (more about this remarkable family coming soon)! We are also grateful our Masters and regular Sharkfest swimmers, as well as our amazing crew of returning swimmers! Team Hydro is so proud of ALL of our swimmers–and on-land supporters! We happily and gratefully welcome Each and All to the Team Hydro Family!

But Team Hydro is only as successful as the amount of research we sponsor–
AND we need to RAISE FUNDS to sponsor research!

Remember –every penny we raise from our swims will go directly to fund important research!!

It only takes a minute to set up your personal fund-raising page!!
Set up a page now (or make a donation) at donate.teamhydro.org!!!

Let’s make 2017 an amazing year!!
Go TEAM Hydro!!!

Video on our quest to cure post-hemorrhagic hydrocephalus

While our work at Team Hydro includes efforts to prevent and cure all forms of Hydrocephalus, this most recent campaign, which represents a new major scientific effort, is particularly dear to our hearts!

Team Hydro is proud to stand with Craig and Vicki Brown in conjunction with the Hydrocephalus Association in our quest to cure Post-Hemorrhagic Hydrocephalus.

Check out the video below!

Boston Harbor Swim a Huge Success!

The sun was shining and the skies a brilliant blue as over 50 intrepid Team Hydro swimmers, paddlers and volunteers gathered on the Boston waterfront among 390 other swimmers and their families to raise awareness and funds for hydrocephalus research.

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Much like the lives of the hydrocephalus patients we seek to honor, the waters of the harbor were filled with unexpected turbulence and challenge for swimmers and paddlers alike. Undaunted however, Team Hydro swimmers raced to the finish, raising loads of awareness and funds for the cause along the way. The team — consisting of folks from all walks of life: MIT swim team members, Harvard med students, nurses, fathers, grandmas, and even a cerebrospinal fluid researcher — made a real impact at the swim answering question after question about the cause which unites them from the large crowd and group of other swimmers at the event. The swimmers also raised funds, helping Team Hydro raise over $51,000 this summer, 100% of which will go directly to support hydrocephalus research!

Team Hydro swimmers demonstrated the depth of their swimming strength as well by finishing strong in the race as well. One swimmer placed 3rd overall in the event of over 350 swimmers (including an Olympian), several other team hydro members stood on the podium in their age groups as well. The Team Hydro crowd on land was medal worthy as well, keeping spirits high and having a great time greeting swimmers at the finish!

Team Hydro is so proud of each and every swimmer, volunteer, and on land supporter– we thank each and every one who joined us today– a great time time in support of a great cause was had by all!!

Team Hydro to Cross the Boston HAHBAH on Saturday!

The Boston Harbor may be best known for an important tea-dumping incident which took place almost 250 years ago, but next Saturday, this very same harbor will be the site of another life-changing event– the TEAM HYDRO SWIM for HYDROCEPHALUS!!

That’s right, on Saturday, October 17, 2016, intrepid swimmers from Team Hydro will once again leap into the frigid waters of the HAHBAH, amidst strong currents, lobster traps, tall ships, and schooners, to swim in support of Hydrocephalus Research!

Hydrocephalus, a life-threatening neurologic condition affecting the brain for which there is NO CURE, affects almost 1 million americans! And yet awareness and research for this devastating condition is severely lacking! Team Hydro is a group of swimmers and on-land supporters seeking to put an end to hydrocephalus by funding important cure-based research! Every penny the TEAM raises will go directly to fund research coordinated through the Hydrocephalus Association, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit.

If you are swimming with us Saturday, remember we will meet at the Team Hydro Area on the grass by the Joseph A Moakley US Couthouse, where the race ends! Race registration is right near by, and it will take place from 9:30-10:30.

The TEAM HYDRO Team Area is the place you will be able to pick up your t-shirt and special TEAM HYDRO SWIM CAP (race-sanctioned especially for our swimmers). We will also have snacks, a place to keep your gear, and will be a place for friends and family to gather as well.

Most importantly, we will be sharing the stories of and handing out special bracelets honoring people who are living with or who have passed from hydrocephalus. We invite all or our swimmers (and on-land supporters too!) to read a story, put on a bracelet, and dedicate your swim (or day) to someone who knows what it is like to face challenges and uncertainty every single day!

See you at the HAHBAH!

CLICK HERE TO SPONSOR A SWIMMER AND DONATE!

2016 Alcatraz Swim — another success!

 

The spirit of love and compassion was strong again this year as we rallied together in support of this great cause.  Hugs were shared and tears were shed as we reflected on the lives of those no longer with us, and the uncertainty that those still here face.  We won’t rest until people no longer need to suffer at the hands of hydrocephalus.  A photo of the team shortly before boarding the ferry is below!

Much more to follow, but a few highlights we wanted to call out from today…in no particular order!

  • Kyle Voulgaris placed 7th overall…out of ~1,000 swimmers!
  • Kate Damrell was joined by her older brother AND both parents!  Kate ROCKED it, and she’s excited to have her younger brother swim with us in 2017!
  • Kate and Kyle are two of our swimmers living with hydrocephalus!
  • Sonia Podvin, the researcher who received the very first Team Hydro grant, made the trip from warm San Diego to brave the freezing cold waters of San Francisco!!
  • The Team Hydro roster included two Australian blokes, and a wonderful man from Columbia — they found us online!  It is so inspiring to see the global reach of our efforts…and it was cool to share about the research we are supporting at Piper Lab at the University of Queensland!
  • Greg Osborn (cancer survivor, vietnam vet, with multiple artificial joints) completed the swim for his 7th(!) time this year.  Incredible man!
  • Kate Finlayson’s mom Pam swam again this year, carrying her daughter in her heart.  Such an inspiration to us all!

Stay tuned for more inspiring stories from the freezing waters off the rocky shores of Alcatraz!  :)

TeamHydro2016

The Day Has Arrived…!

On the eve of our ninth Alcatraz swim, we cannot help but be grateful for all the love and support from so many for so long. We have a long way to go, but we’re making progress!

Team Hydro cant wait to see all our Swimmers and Onland Supporters on the shores of Aquatic Park in SF on Saturday as we make our 9th Annual crossing of the Bay in support of hydrocephalus!! Here’s a reminder of the key milestones for tomorrow:

6:30–7:55AM: ATHLETE CHECK-IN at Aquatic Park Maritime Museum. Come to the Team Hydro Banner before and after checking-in!
~7:55AM: TEAM HYDRO PHOTO by the banner!
8:10AM: Athletes WALK TO THE FERRY from Aquatic to the Blue and Gold Ferry at Pier 41.
8:50AM: FERRY DEPARTS. Miss the ferry, miss the swim!
9:30AM: Race start is signaled by the SECOND ferry horn blast.
11:00AM: Informal AWARDS CEREMONY

On-land Supporters can Look for our Swimmers in our special Team Hydro caps to begin making it to shore between: 10am–10:45am
You can make a contribution here: http://tinyurl.com/gugc75l

We cant wait to see our swimmers, and on-land supporters by the Team Hydro Banner in Aquatic Park!!