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Thomas Brushart, M.D.
Brushart Professor of Hand Surgery
Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
Expertise: Arthritis of the Hand, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, Dupuytren's Contracture, Hand and Peripheral Nerve Conditions, Hand Surgery, Inclusion Body Myositis, Microsurgical Nerve Repair, Nerve Compression, Nerve Injury, Orthopaedic Surgery, Orthopaedics, Perinatal Brachial Plexus Injury, Ulnar Neuropathy ...read more
Research Interests: Peripheral Nerve Regeneration
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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 chief of Orthopaedic Hand Surgery.
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.
- Brushart Professor of Hand Surgery
- Chief of Hand Surgery
- Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
- Professor of Neurology
- Professor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
- MD, Harvard Medical School (1976)
- Harvard Medical School / Orthopaedic Surgery (1981)
- Medstar Union Memorial Hospital / Hand Surgery (1983)
- American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery / Orthopedic Surgery (1985)
Research & Publications
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 PublicationsView all on Pubmed
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Witzel, C., Rohde, C., and Brushart, T.M. Pathway Sampling by Regenerating Peripheral Axons. J. Comparative Neurol. 485:183-190, 2005.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Brushart, T.M. Preferential Motor Reinnervation: A Sequential Double Labeling Study. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience 1:281-287, 1990.
- Brushart, T.M. The Central Course of Digital Axons Within the Median Nerve of Macaca Mulatta. J. Comp. Neurol. 311:197-209, 1991.
- Brushart, T.M. Preferential Reinnervation of Motor Pathways by Regenerating Motor Axons. J. Neurosci. 13:2730-2738, 1993.
- 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.
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
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
- American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH)
- Orthopaedic Research Society
- Peripheral Nerve Society
- Society for Neuroscience
- Sunderland Society
Videos & Media
Lectures and Presentations
Specificity: The Sine Qua Non of Peripheral Axon Regeneration
Specificity: The Sine Qua Non of Peripheral Axon Regeneration