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Neuromodulation and Advanced Therapies Center
We investigate the brain networks and neurotransmitters involved in symptoms of movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, and the mechanisms by which modulating these networks through electrical stimulation affects these symptoms. We are particularly interested in the mechanisms through which neuromodulation therapies like deep brain stimulation affect non-motor brain functions, such as cognitive function and mood. We use imaging of specific neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine and dopamine, to understand the changes in brain chemistry associated with the clinical effects of deep brain stimulation and to predict which patients are likely to have changes in non-motor symptoms following DBS. Through collaborations with our neurosurgery colleagues, we explore brain function by making recordings during DBS surgery during motor and non-motor tasks. Dr. Mills collaborates with researchers in the Department of Neurosurgery, the Division of Geriatric and Neuropsychiatry in the Depar...tment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and in the Division of Nuclear Medicine within the Department of Radiology to translate neuroimaging and neurophysiology findings into clinical applications. view more
Directed by Debraj “Raj” Mukherjee, MD, MPH, the laboratory focuses on improving access to care, reducing disparities, maximizing surgical outcomes, and optimizing quality of life for patients with brain and skull base tumors.
The laboratory achieves these aims by creating and analyzing institutional and national databases, developing and validating novel patient-centered quality of life instruments, leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence platforms to risk-stratify vulnerable patient populations, and designing novel surgical trials to push the boundaries of neurosurgical innovation.
Our research also investigates novel approaches to improve neurosurgical medical education including studying the utility of video-based surgical coaching and the design of new operative instrumentation.
Neuro-Vestibular and Ocular Motor Laboratory
In our laboratory we study the brain mechanisms of eye movements and spatial orientation.
-How magnetic stimulation through transcranial devices affects cortical brain regions
-Neural mechanisms underlying balance, spatial orientation and eye movement
-Mathematical models that describe the function of ocular motor systems and perception of spatial orientation
-Short- and long-term adaptive processes underlying compensation for disease and functional recovery in patients with ocular motor, vestibular and perceptual dysfunction
Developing and testing novel diagnostic tools, treatments, and rehabilitative strategies for patients with ocular motor, vestibular and spatial dysfunction
How do brain dynamics give rise to our sensory experience of the world? The O'Connor lab works to answer this question by taking advantage of the fact that key architectural features of the mammalian brain are similar across species. This allows us to leverage the power of mouse genetics to monitor and manipulate genetically and functionally defined brain circuits during perception. We train mice to perform simple perceptual tasks. By using quantitative behavior, optogenetic and chemical-genetic gain- and loss-of-function perturbations, in vivo two-photon imaging, and electrophysiology, we assemble a description of the relationship between neural circuit function and perception. We work in the mouse tactile system to capitalize on an accessible mammalian circuit with a precise mapping between the sensory periphery and multiple brain areas. Our mission is to reveal the neural circuit foundations of sensory perception; to provide a framework to understand how circuit dysfunction causes ...mental and behavioral aspects of neuropsychiatric illness; and to help others fulfill creative potential and contribute to human knowledge. view more
Our research is directed toward how the brain controls the movements of the eyes (including eye movements induced by head motion) using studies in normal human beings, patients and experimental animals. The focus is on mechanisms underlying adaptive ocular motor control. More specifically, what are mechanisms by which the brain learns to cope with the changes associated with normal development and aging as well as the damage associated with disease and trauma? How does the brain keep its eye movement reflexes properly calibrated? Our research strategy is to make accurate, quantitative measures of eye movements in response to precisely controlled stimuli and then use the analytical techniques of the control systems engineer to interpret the findings.
Research areas: 1) learning and compensation for vestibular disturbances that occur either within the labyrinth or more centrally within the brain, 2) the mechanisms by which the brain maintains correct alignment of the eyes to prevent d...iplopia and strabismus, and 3) the role of ocular proprioception in localizing objects in space for accurate eye-hand coordination.
Pankaj Jay Pasricha Lab
Researchers in the Pankaj Jay Pasricha Lab are interested in the molecular mechanisms of visceral pain and restoration of enteric neural function with novel strategies, including neural stem cell transplants. Recent research has focused on the enteric nervous system and gut-brain axis, and the complexity of pain in chronic pancreatitis. Another recent study indicates that patients with underlying small intestinal bacterial overgrowth have significant delays in small bowel transit time as compared to those without, while another explored the safety and efficacy of carbon dioxide cryotherapy for treatment of neoplastic Barrett's esophagus.
The team headed by Shenandoah “Dody” Robinson, M.D., professor of neurosurgery, neurology and pediatrics, studies perinatal brain injury and repair. Employing developmentally age-appropriate models, the lab investigates neurological consequences of extremely preterm birth, including cerebral palsy, chronic pain, cognitive and behavioral impairment, epilepsy and posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus of prematurity.
Peter Agre Lab
Work in the Peter Agre Lab focuses on the molecular makeup of human diseases, particularly malaria, hemolytic anemias and blood group antigens. In 2003, Dr. Agre earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering aquaporin water channels. Building on that discovery, our recent research has included studies on the protective role of the brain water channel AQP4 in murine cerebral malaria, as well as defective urinary-concentrating ability as a result of a complete deficiency in aquaporin-1. We also collaborate on scientific training and research efforts with 20 Baltimore-area labs and in field studies in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Peter van Zijl Laboratory focuses on developing new methodologies for using MRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to study brain function and physiology. In addition, we are working to understand the basic mechanisms of the MRI signal changes measured during functional MRI (fMRI) tests of the brain. We are also mapping the wiring of the brain (axonal connections between the brains functional regions) and designing new technologies for MRI to follow where cells are migrating and when genes are expressed. A more recent interest is the development of bioorganic biodegradable MRI contrast agents. Our ultimate goal is to transform these technologies into fast methods that are compatible with the time available for multi-modal clinical diagnosis using MRI.
Psychiatric Neuroimaging (PNI) is active in neuropsychiatric research using imaging methods such as MRI, fMRI, PET and DTI to understand the mechanisms and brain networks underlying human cognition. PNI faculty have published hundreds of papers on a variety of brain disorders which include but are not limited to Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders. Faculty in the division have been awarded numerous peer-reviewed grants by the National Institutes of Health, foundations and other funding organizations.