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A free resource that provides access to information and support for individuals and families living with developmental disabilities.
Alexander H. Hoon Jr., M.D., M.P.H.
Kennedy Krieger Institute
707 N. Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21205
Phone: (443) 923-9141
Dr. Alec Hoon is a research scientist, director of the Phelps Center for Cerebral Palsy and Neurodevelopmental Medicine and medical director of the Carter Center for Holoprosencephaly and Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger Institute. He is also an associate professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Dr. Hoon received a bachelor's of science from Davidson College in 1974, and a medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1978. After a pediatric residency at Kosair-Children's Hospital in Louisville and two years in private practice, he completed a neonatology fellowship at British Columbia Children's Hospital and a one-year fellowship in medical genetics at the Affiliated Hospitals in Vancouver, Canada. In 1988, he came to Baltimore where he completed a fellowship in neurodevelopmental disabilities at Kennedy Krieger Institute, and obtained a master's of public health at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. He joined the Kennedy Krieger faculty in 1990. Dr. Hoon is the director of the Phelps Center for Cerebral Palsy and Neurodevelopmental Medicine at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. He is also the medical director of the Carter Center for Holoprosencephaly and Related Disorders at Johns Hopkins and Kennedy Krieger Institute, and is an attending physician at Kennedy Krieger Children's Hospital and Johns Hopkins Children's Center.
Dr. Hoon is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Society of Human Genetics, the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, the Society for Developmental Pediatrics and the Kennedy Fellows Association. He was awarded the 2001 Kennedy Krieger Institute William J. Hersey Prize for exceptional commitment to children with disabilities.
Cerebral palsy, the most common form of chronic motor disability beginning in childhood, is often related to events before birth affecting brain development. Modern imaging techniques, including conventional brain MRI and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), can now be utilized to establish cause and refine treatment for children, adolescents and adults with cerebral palsy. The ongoing development of these imaging techniques to more precisely characterize brain injury and quantitative measurement tools to evaluate the success of rehabilitative interventions is essential to improve care for affected individuals.
Dr. Hoon, utilizing training in neonatology, genetics, neurodevelopmental disabilities and public health and working with collaborative research teams, addresses questions of cause and treatment in cerebral palsy. Past publications have addressed causal factors, quantification of the severity of functional impairment, and treatment with oral medications. Current research utilizes advanced neuroimaging techniques in the Kennedy Krieger Institute Kirby Research Center for Functional Brain Imaging, including DTI to more precisely characterize brain injury. These imaging modalities will allow researchers studying rehabilitative interventions to assign children with cerebral palsy to cohorts with comparable levels of injury.
Using DTI, Dr. Hoon and co-workers have mapped injured white matter pathways in two children with cerebral palsy associated with preterm birth. Three-dimensional reconstructions of white matter pathways in these two children and two controls show that rather than the expected injury in white matter tracts from the brain to spinal cord, the primary injury was in sensory pathways in the brain. Currently the research team is completing a study of twenty children with cerebral palsy using DTI to validate this finding and extend understanding of white matter abnormalities in other causes of cerebral palsy. Results from this work will serve as a basis for projected research to improve the classification of cerebral palsy by including imaging findings. Such a classification could eventually be used to more precisely target rehabilitative interventions to the site of injury.