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School of Medicine
Courtney Leigh Robertson, M.D.
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine
Expertise: Critical Care
Research Interests: Ppediatric neuro-intensive care, specifically acute brain injury and recovery in children; Evaluating the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in pediatric traumatic brain injury ...read more
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Dr. Courtney Robertson is an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her area of clinical expertise is pediatric critical care, with a particular focus on traumatic brain injury and other head trauma.
Dr. Robertson received her undergraduate degree in biochemistry from Texas A&M University and her medical degree from University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. She completed a residency in pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and performed a fellowship in pediatric critical care at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, Dr. Robertson was on faculty at the University of Maryland. She joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2009.
Her research focuses on identifying interventions that could minimize the neurological deficits that can persist after traumatic brain injury in children.
Dr. Robertson serves on the editorial board of Developmental Neuroscience and is an ad hoc reviewer for many other critical care and neuroscience journals. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, the National Neurotrauma Society, the Women in Neurotrauma Research Society and the Society for Neuroscience.
- Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine
- Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Departments / Divisions
Centers & Institutes
- MD; Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch School of Medicine (1993)
- University of North Carolina Hospitals / Pediatrics (1996)
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center / Pediatric Critical Care Medicine (1999)
- American Board of Pediatrics / Pediatric Critical Care Medicine (2000)
- American Board of Pediatrics / Pediatrics (2014)
Research & Publications
Dr. Robertson’s research is focused on identifying interventions that could minimize the neurological deficits that can persist after traumatic brain injury (TBI) in children. Following TBI, multiple pathologic intracellular cascades ensue, many of which involve mitochondrial dysfunction, which can lead to metabolic failure and cell death.
Dr. Robertson and her team are using a preclinical model to study potential disruption of mitochondrial function and alterations in cerebral metabolism. After the brain mitochondria are isolated, they measure mitochondrial respiration, calcium uptake, production of reactive oxygen species, membrane potential and the activity levels of key enzymes.
She has found that a substantial amount of mitochondrial dysfunction is present in the first six hours after TBI. Mitochondria isolated from the peri-trauma region show alterations in both active, phosphorylating respiration (State 3) and in resting (State 4) rates of respiration. In addition, she has shown a decrease in the activity of the mitochondrial enzyme pyruvate dehydrogenase, the enzyme that converts pyruvate to acetyl-Co A, the first substrate in the energy-producing Krebs cycle.
In a related study, Dr. Robertson is collaborating with investigators at the University of Pennsylvania to compare mitochondrial function after head injury in different clinically relevant models. They are testing whether the FDA-approved drug cyclosporin A is capable of mitochondrial rescue and improving histologic and neurologic outcomes after TBI. She is hopeful that treatments like these, targeted at mitochondrial rescue, will ultimately lead to the development of clinically useful neuroprotective strategies for the developing brain.
- Casey PA, McKenna MC, Fiskum G, Saraswati M, and Robertson CL. "Early and sustained alterations in cerebral metabolism after traumatic brain injury in immature rats." J Neurotrauma. 2008 Jun;25(6):603-14. doi: 10.1089/neu.2007.0481.
- Ahn ES, Robertson CL, Vereczki V, Hoffman GE and Fiskum G. "Normoxic ventilatory resuscitation after controlled cortical impact reduces peroxynitrite-mediated protein nitration in the hippocampus." J Neurosurg. 2008 Jan;108(1):124-31. doi: 10.3171/JNS/2008/108/01/0124.
- Robertson CL, Saraswati M, and Fiskum G. "Mitochondrial dysfunction early after traumatic brain injury in immature rats." J Neurochem. 2007 Jun;101(5):1248-57. Epub 2007 Apr 2.
- Robertson CL, Soane L, Siegel ZT, Fiskum G. "The potential role of mitochondria in pediatric traumatic brain injury." Dev Neurosci. 2007. 101: 1248-57.
- Robertson CL, Puskar A, Hoffman GE, Murphy AZ, Saraswati M, Fiskum G. "Physiologic progesterone reduces mitochondrial dysfunction and hippocampal cell loss after traumatic brain injury in female rats." Exp Neurol. 2006. 197:235-43.
- Robertson C, Bucci C, Fiskum G. "Mitochondrial response to calcium in the developing brain." Res Brain Dev Brain Res. 2004. 151:141-8.
- Robertson CL, Bell M, Kochanek P, Adelson P, Ruppel R, Wisniewski S, Mi Z, Janesko K, Clark R, Jackson E. "Increased adenosine in cerebrospinal fluid after severe traumatic brain injury in infants and children: association with severity of injury and excitoxicity." Crit Care Med. 2001. 29:2287-93.
Activities & Honors
- Loan Repayment Program Award, NIH, 2003
- Medical Student Teaching Award, University of North Carolina, 1994
- Tonya Johnson Community Service Award, University of Texas Medical Branch, 1993
- Mu Delta Honorary Medical Society, University of Texas Medical Branch, 1993
- American Academy of Pediatrics, 1995
- Baltimore Critical Care Society, 2004 - 2008
- Maryland Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics, 2002
- National Neurotrauma Society, 1997
- Society for Neuroscience, 2003
- Society for Pediatric Research, 2005
- Society of Critical Care Medicine, 1997
- Women in Neurotrauma Research Society, 2000
- Editorial board, Developmental Neuroscience
- Manuscript ad hoc reviewer, Critical Care Medicine
- Manuscript ad hoc reviewer, Pediatric Research
- Manuscript ad hoc reviewer, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine
- Manuscript ad hoc reviewer, Journal of Neuroscience Research
- Manuscript ad hoc reviewer, Journal of Neurotrauma