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Thomas Brushart, MD

Brushart Professor of Hand Surgery
Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

See Research on Pubmed

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  • Brushart Professor of Hand Surgery
  • Vice Chairman, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Chief of Hand Surgery
  • Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Professor of Neurology
  • Professor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery


Arthritis of the Hand, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, Dupuytren's Contracture, Hand and Peripheral Nerves, Hand Surgery, Inclusion Body Myositis, Microsurgical Nerve Repair, Nerve Compression, Nerve Injury, Orthopaedic Surgery, Orthopaedics, Perinatal Brachial Plexus Injury, Ulnar Neuropathy

Research Interests

Peripheral Nerve Regeneration


Dr. Thomas Brushart is a professor of orthopaedic surgery, neurology, and plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. His area of clinical expertise is treating hand injuries and disorders, with particular expertise in treatment of nerve compression syndromes, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar neuropathy, and in reconstruction of the upper extremity compromised by nerve injury or disease. Dr. Brushart is the Brushart Professor of Hand Surgery, and serves as the vice chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and chief of the Orthopaedic Hand Surgery Service.

Dr. Brushart received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College. He earned his M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He received his orthopaedic training in the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Residency Program and performed a fellowship in hand surgery at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He also completed a one-year hand fellowship at the Raymond Curtis Hand Center in Baltimore, where he continued to practice for 12 years before joining the Johns Hopkins Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Dr. Brushart’s research interests include peripheral nerve regeneration.

For 30 years, Dr. Brushart has cared for patients with hand and peripheral nerve disorders while maintaining a research program in peripheral nerve regeneration. This synergy culminated in the writing of the book Nerve Repair, a translational work that integrates clinical and research findings to achieve new perspectives on nerve repair and regeneration.

Dr. Brushart has received numerous honors, including the Hanno Millesi Award from the World Federation of Neurological Societies, the L.W. Freeman Award from the National Spinal Cord Injury Foundation, the Joseph Boyes Award and the Emanuel Kaplan Anatomy Prize from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. He is a member of several professional organizations, including the Society for Neuroscience and the Orthopaedic Research Society. Dr. Brushart is co-director of the Brachial Plexus Clinic at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.


  • English


Society for Neuroscience
Orthopaedic Research Society
Sunderland Society
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH)
Peripheral Nerve Society

Additional Resources

Additional Resources +
  • Education +


    • Harvard Medical School (Boston MA ) (1976)


    • Harvard Medical School / Orthopaedic Surgery (Boston MA ) (1981)


    • Union Memorial Hospital / Hand Surgery (Baltimore MD ) (1983)


    • Orthopedic Surgery, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (1985)
  • Research & Publications +

    Research Summary

    Dr. Brushart has gained wide recognition for his expertise in the treatment of hand and peripheral nerve problems, as well as his research into the restoration of function after nerve injury. He focuses on techniques of stimulating nerve fibers to regenerate after injury, reconnecting properly with muscle and skin. His special research interest is peripheral nerve regeneration.

    The goal of Dr. Brushart’s research program is to improve the outcome of nerve repair by enhancing the specificity with which regenerating axons reinnervate their targets. Using retrograde labeling techniques in the rat femoral nerve model, Dr. Brushart and his team have defined a process termed preferential motor reinnervation, the tendency for motoneurons to reinnervate muscle rather than skin when regenerating in mixed nerve. In exploring the mechanism of this phenomenon, they have recently demonstrated that cutaneous and muscle nerve differ significantly in their ability to make growth-supporting proteins, and that these differences correlate with their ability to support modality-specific regeneration. Similarly, they have found that electrical stimulation for one hour at the time of nerve repair enhances regeneration specificity.

    Dr. Brushart’s current projects are: (1) correlation of upper extremity function with regeneration specificity in the rat upper extremity; (2) phenotypic changes in denervated Schwann cells and their effects on regeneration; (3) development of a two-chamber in vitro model of nerve repair; and (4) the effects of pathway-derived neurotrophins on peripheral axon regeneration.

    Selected Publications View all on PubMed

    1. Aspalter, M., Vyas, A., Feiner, J., Griffin, J., Brushart, T.M., Redett, R. Modification of Schwann Cell Gene Expression by Electroporation in vivo. J. Neuroscience Methods 176:96- 103, 2009.
    2. Hoke, A., Redett, R., Hameed, H., Jari, R., Zhou, C., Li, Z.B., Griffin, J.W., and Brushart, T.M. Schwann Cells Express Motor and Sensory Phenotypes that Regulate Axon Regeneration. J. Neurosci. 26:9646-9655, 2006.
    3. Brushart, T.M., Jari, R., Verge, V., Rohde, C., and Gordon, T. Electrical Stimulation Restores the Specificity of Sensory Axon Regeneration. Exp. Neurol. 194:221-229, 2005.
    4. Witzel, C., Rohde, C., and Brushart, T.M. Pathway Sampling by Regenerating Peripheral Axons. J. Comparative Neurol. 485:183-190, 2005.
    5. Redett, R., Jari, R., Crawford, T., Chen, Y-G., Rohde, C., and Brushart, T.M. Peripheral Pathways Regulate Motoneuron Collateral Dynamics. J. Neurosci. 25(41):9406-9412, 2005.
    6. Le, T., Aszmann, O., Chen, Y-G., Royall, R., and Brushart, T.M. Effects of Pathway and Neuronal Aging on the Specificity of Motor Axon Regeneration. Exp. Neurol. 167:126-132, 2001.
    7. Brushart, T.M., Hoffman, P.N., Royall, R.M., Murinson, B.B., Witzel, C. and Gordon, T. Electrical Stimulation Promotes Motoneuron Regeneration without Increasing Its Speed or Conditioning the Neuron. J. Neurosci. 22(15):6631-6638, 2002.
    8. Brushart, T.M. Preferential Motor Reinnervation: A Sequential Double Labeling Study. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience 1:281-287, 1990.
    9. Brushart, T.M. The Central Course of Digital Axons Within the Median Nerve of Macaca Mulatta. J. Comp. Neurol. 311:197-209, 1991.
    10. Brushart, T.M. Preferential Reinnervation of Motor Pathways by Regenerating Motor Axons. J. Neurosci. 13:2730-2738, 1993.
    11. Brushart, T.M. and Mesulam, M.M. Alteration in Connections Between Muscle and Anterior Horn Motoneurons after Peripheral Nerve Repair. Science 208:603-605, 1980.
  • Academic Affiliations & Courses +
  • Activities & Honors +


    Morehead Scholar
    Merit Scholarship Finalist
    Milton Fellow, Harvard University
    Jordan Fellow, National Spinal Cord Injury Foundation
    L.W. Freeman Award, National Spinal Cord Injury Foundation
    Bunnell Traveling Fellowship, American Society for Surgery of the Hand
    Joseph Boyes Award, American Society for Surgery of the Hand
    Thomas M. Brushart Professorship in Hand Surgery
    President, The Sunderland Society
    Emanuel Kaplan Anatomy Prize, American Society for Surgery of the Hand
    The Hanno Millesi Prize, World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies

  • Videos & Media +
  • Events +

    Grand Rounds Lectures

    Title: Specificity: The Sine Qua Non of Peripheral Axon Regeneration

    Date: February 21, 2013

  • Contact & Locations +


    Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center
    601 N. Caroline Street
    Baltimore, MD 21287
    Phone: 410-955-9663
    Appointment Phone: 443-997-2663
    Fax: 410-502-6816
    Location Map


    • Orthopaedic Surgery - Division of Hand Surgery

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