Work in the Courtney Robertson Lab is focused on identifying interventions that could minimize the neurological deficits that can persist after pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI). One study used a preclinical model to examine potential disruption of mitochondrial function and alterations in cerebral metabolism. It was found that a substantial amount of mitochondrial dysfunction is present in the first six hours after TBI. In addition, we are using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to evaluate global and regional alterations in brain metabolism after TBI. We're also collaborating with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania to compare mitochondrial function after head injury in different clinically relevant models.
Work in the Marek Mirski lab explores the subcortical mechanisms of seizure propagation and cortical synchrony. The primary goal of our research is to develop methodologies for inhibiting seizures using site-specific subcortical electrical stimulation. Our identification of synaptically linked subcortical elements that contribute to seizure propagation has led to FDA-sanctioned phase III clinical trials to assess the use of targeted thalamic stimulation in patients with intractable seizures. We also conduct clinical research on the treatment of acute head injury, elevated intracranial pressure, cerebral edema, ischemic stroke and ICU sedation.
Epilepsy affects 1-3% of the population and can have a profound impact on general health, employment and quality of life. Medial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) develops in some patients following head injury or repeated febrile seizures. Those affected may first suffer spontaneous seizures many years after the initial insult, indicating that the neural circuit undergoes a slow pathologic remodeling over the interim. There are currently no methods of preventing the development of MTLE. It is our goal to better understand the process in order to slow, halt, and ultimately reverse it.
Our laboratory draws on electrophysiology, molecular biology, and morphology to study the contribution of dysregulated neurogenesis and newborn neuron connectivity to the development of MTLE. We build on basic research in stem cell biology, hippocampal development, and synaptic plasticity. We work closely with colleagues in the Institute for Cell Engineering, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Biomedical Engineering..., and Radiology. As physician neuropathologists our grounding is in tissue alterations underlying human neurologic disease; using human iPSC-derived neurons and surgical specimens we focus on the pathophysiological processes as they occur in patients.
By understanding changes in cell populations and morphologies that affect the circuit, and identifying pathologic alterations in gene expression that lead to the cell-level abnormalities, we hope to find treatment targets that can prevent the remodeling and break the feedback loop of abnormal activity > circuit change > abnormal activity.view more