Principal Investigators A-B
Alvarez, Enrique, MD, PhD
Dr. Alvarez’s research interests include optimizing treatment decisions for patients with multiple sclerosis and related diseases and especially in clinical studies involving immunotherapies for the treatment of this disease. Additionally, Dr. Alvarez is interested in biomarkers to improve treatment decisions and diagnosis of neuroimmunological diseases.
Alan Anderson, MD
Dr. Anderson’s research is focused on stroke prevention and the cognitive and emotional effects of stroke. He assesses neurobehavior in patients with focal cerebrovascular lesions and vascular dementia.
Christine B. Baca, MD, MSHS
With a background in both clinical epilepsy and health services research, Dr. Baca conducts research focusing on the measurement of health outcomes for people with epilepsy. She conducts patient-centered research to improve access, health disparities, quality of care and health outcomes for people with epilepsy, particularly for vulnerable groups. To date she has conducted projects measuring expectations to adult respective epilepsy surgery, long-term psychosocial outcomes in young adults and adolescents with childhood-onset epilepsy, delays in timing of pediatric epilepsy surgery, in addition to access and quality of care for veterans with epilepsy. She is now conducting an Epilepsy Foundation American Epilepsy Society funded study of pediatric to adult transitions of epilepsy care. She has received funding from the Epilepsy Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Veterans Administration.
Nicholas L. Baird, PhD
Varicella zoster virus (VZV) causes varicella (chicken pox), after which virus becomes latent (dormant), in ganglionic neurons along the entire neuraxis. Virus remains within the neurons for the lifetime of the host. When the host’s VZV-specific cell-mediated immunity declines (e.g.: age, HIV/AIDS, immunomodulatory therapy), virus reactivates to cause zoster (shingles) later in life. Dr. Baird’s research focuses on the latency/ reactivation phase of the virus life cycle in which he investigates molecular interactions between the virus and neuron using an in vitro model of neuronal infection with VZV. Additionally, his research analyzes how cytokines produced by the immune response may contribute to the establishment and/or maintenance of virus latency.
Taylor Bashore, NP
My areas of interest include medical management of patients with epilepsy in an effort to help better improve their quality of life. I am also interested in helping guide patients through their treatment process before and after epilepsy surgery.
Jeffrey L. Bennett, MD, PhD
Optic Neuritis. Optic neuritis (ON) is the most common clinically-isolated demyelinating syndrome, and is the presenting feature in approximately 25% of individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). Dr. Bennett is attempting to identify the primary target of the humoral immune response in ON and MS. His laboratory utilizes a RT-PCR protocol to amplify the expressed variable-region sequences of single B-lymphocytes and plasma cells isolated from ON CSF by fluorescence-activated cell sorting. The B-lymphocyte and plasma cell heavy- and light-chain pairings found in vivo are reconstituted in vitro to produce a panel of recombinant monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) whose specificity is determined by immunocytochemistry, immunoblotting, and screening of white matter and random peptide expression libraries. Since many patients with ON do not develop MS, these studies will allow identification of clinical and molecular risk factors that may point to the ultimate cause of human demyelinating disease and allow physicians to identify at-risk individuals, to diagnose MS at the earliest stage of disease and to treat patients with therapies designed to modify or even cure disease.
Occult Chorioretinal (OC) Disorder. Acute zonal occult outer retinopathy, multiple evanescent white dot syndrome, acute macular neuroretinopathy, acute idiopathic blind spot enlargement syndrome, multifocal choroiditis, punctate inner choroidopathy and diffuse subretinal fibrosis syndrome are a group of chorioretinal inflammatory disorders of unknown etiology that mimic optic neuropathy. These disorders possess common clinical features, and affected individuals may evolve from one condition to another. Dr. Bennett’s laboratory has identified clones in a human uveoretinal cDNA expression library and a random peptide library whose products react with serum or immunoglobulins from OC patients. Using molecular biologic techniques, the lab screens candidate antigens with sera from OC and control patients to characterize disease-relevant clones. Identification of OC-specific markers will help classify occult chorioretinal disorders as a specific nosologic entity.
Julie J. Berk, MS, PA-C
Ms. Berk's research interests are related to projects aimed at improving quality of life for those suffering with chronic neurologic disease, and their families.
Brian D. Berman, MD
Dr. Berman uses structural and functional imaging techniques to study the underlying pathophysiology of movement disorders including Parkinson disease (PD) and dystonia. His current research projects involve the use of functional MRI (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to investigate the changes that occur within basal ganglia circuits in PD and dystonia patients, as well as the use of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Electroencephalography (EEG) to investigate inhibitory function in patients with dystonia. Knowledge gained from these investigations will help us better understand the pathophysiology that underlies these chronic neurological disorders. The ultimate goal of these projects is to develop and validate neuroimaging biomarkers for these diseases that will aid our ability to diagnose these heterogeneous disorders and inform treatment development. He is also is a lead site investigator for a multi-center natural history and biorepository project in focal dystonia and co-investigator on a study investigating the effects of endurance exercise in PD.
Marius Birlea, MD
I am interested in exploring the epidemiology and social implications of migraine and other primary headaches, including social causation and ways to decrease disability associated with severe headache conditions. The factors involved in development of chronic headache are multiple and may include frequent reactivation of latent viruses, which can be evaluated by laboratory parameters. Another area of interest for me is searching for laboratory biomarkers that may be associated with migraine and comorbid conditions, including possible blood dyscrasias and cardiovascular disorders. Therapeutic avenues are explored using neuromodulation device Cefaly.
Kevin R. Blauth, PhD
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most common non-traumatic cause of neurological disability in young adults, presenting an urgent public health challenge. To better treat MS, disease mechanisms must be more thoroughly understood, so therapies can be developed toward relevant molecular targets. Evidence has accumulated indicating significant roles for the B cell response in MS. Plasma cells persistently secrete Immunoglobulin G (IgG) within the central nervous system (CNS) of MS patients, likely contributing to the neurological damage which occurs in MS. MS IgG-mediated damage has not been fully characterized, and novel IgG antigenic targets need to be identified.
Dr. Blauth works in the laboratory of Dr. Gregory P. Owens, and the goal of his research is to delineate the cellular damage and corresponding functional deficiencies that IgG derived from MS plasma cells cause to the CNS. Paired with Dr. Owens’ MS antigenic target discovery research, these studies will lead to a greater understanding of disease mechanisms in MS, and provide the groundwork for the development of novel MS therapies.
Patrick J. Bosque, MD
Dr. Bosque’s research is directed at chronic wasting disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other prion disorders of human and animals. Dr. Bosque also studies the role of protein misprocessing in various neurodegenerative diseases.
Isabelle Buard, PhD
Dr. Buard is a neurophysiologist interested in motor and cognitive impairments in movement disorders and other diseases. She investigates the cortical correlates of these impairments through the use of diverse brain imaging methods (magnetoencephalography, magnetic resonance imaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation). Using translational approaches, her long-term goal is to develop strategies for motor and cognitive rehabilitation. She is currently investigating the use of (1) transcranial magnetic stimulation to improve cognition and (2) Neurologic Music Therapy for enhancing fine motor control in Parkinson’s Disease.
Haley A. Burke, MD
Dr. Burke is interested in research on ketamine use for neuropathic pain states and opioid induced hyperalgesia.
Mesha-Gay Brown, MD
Dr. Brown's training in clinical epilepsy and biomedical research represents her clinical research goals of improving the localization of epileptic networks for surgery and devices as a treatment of epilepsy. She believes that improved localization will enable epileptologists to better assign individual patients to the best individualized therapy, whether that is seizure control devices, resective surgery, or continued medical therapy. She has also been involved with clinical trials for epilepsy. Dr Brown is also interested in helping to improve healthcare safety and quality and is participating in a one year certificate program through the Institute for Healthcare Quality, Safety and Efficiency (IHQSE).
Principal Investigators C-F
Dayna Cardinal, NP
Ms. Cardinal is interested in researching quality and safety outcomes in patient care related to communication among healthcare providers, patients and family members, as well as medication errors.
Penny Clarke, PhD
Virus-induced diseases of the central nervous system (CNS), including the brain (encephalitis) and spinal cord (myelitis) induce significant morbidity and mortality throughout the world. Treatments for these diseases are sub-optimal or non-existent. Dr. Clarke’s laboratory uses clinically important viral pathogens (West Nile virus, Japanese encephalitis virus and herpes simplex virus) to investigate cellular genes and signaling pathways that are up-regulated or activated in the CNS following virus infection and to evaluate these host factors as therapeutic targets for virus-induced CNS disease. Dr. Clarke’s research has identified apoptosis as a key mechanism of virus-induced pathology within the CNS and interferon signaling as a critical component of anti-viral defenses. Dr. Clarke’s research has also demonstrated the generation of a robust neuroinflammatory response in the CNS following virus infection, including the activation of resident immune cells (astrocytes and microglia) and the up-regulation of pro-inflammatory gene expression. The role of this response in viral pathology is currently being investigated.
Randall J. Cohrs, PhD
Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is a ubiquitous neurotropic alphaherpesvirus that typically causes childhood chickenpox, becomes latent in cranial nerve, dorsal root and autonomic nervous system ganglia, and reactivates during a declining T-cell response to produce shingles. Dr. Cohrs studies the molecular mechanism by which VZV latency is established and maintained, and the steps involved in virus reactivation. Dr. Cohrs’ laboratory uses state-of-the-art techniques including genomics (expression microarrays) and chromosomal immunoprecipitation and proteomics (protein identification), as well as more standard cDNA analysis by RT-PCR to investigate the state of virus transcription in latently infected human ganglia. After latently transcribed VZV genes have been identified, their regulation and function of the encoded protein is analyzed. A more complete understanding of virus latency will aid in development of steps to prevent virus reactivation.
John R. Corboy, MD
Dr. Corboy's research involves immunotherapies for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. These studies look at novel, still unapproved agents, as well FDA approved therapies in novel settings. He is also interested in identification of individuals at high risk of developing MS, and determining the safety and risks associated with discontinuation of MS therapies. He is the Director of the Rocky Mountain MS Center Tissue Bank, one of the world’s largest MS-specific banks, providing MS tissues to researchers all over the world. In collaboration with others on campus, he also studies biomarkers of disease activity in MS.
Denise M. Damek, MD
Dr. Damek’s clinical research interest focuses on experimental drug therapy of CNS tumors. Ongoing clinical trials in the neuro-oncology program include investigation of novel drugs, new combinations of chemotherapy agents, innovative approaches of radiation therapy, and immunotherapy.
Arnaldo Da Silva, MD
Dr. Da Silva's research interests include neuromodulation, peripheral nerve blocks, migraine aura, and low pressure headaches.
Cornelia Drees, MD
Dr. Drees is involved in several quality improvement projects within the epilepsy division. In one project, she is investigating factors affecting treatment of status epilepticus in the hospital. She is also interested in improving access and outcomes in epilepsy surgery.Dr. Drees is involved in several quality improvement projects within the Epilepsy division. In one project, she is investigating factors affecting treatment of status epilepticus in the hospital. Another project deals with investigating factors contributing to skin breakdown during video-EEG monitoring. She is also interested in improving access and outcomes in epilepsy surgery.
Christopher M. Filley, MD
Dr. Filley has conducted research in many areas of behavioral neurology, including the dementias, traumatic brain injury, focal neurobehavioral syndromes, and neuropsychiatric disorders. Throughout his career, the unifying theme of his research has been the behavioral neurology of white matter, as manifested by a wide range of disorders such as toluene leukoencephalopathy, multiple sclerosis, CADASIL, systemic lupus erythematosus, and fragile X tremor/ataxia syndrome. Dr. Filley has formally proposed the concept of white matter dementia to call attention to the cognitive dysfunction that can be attributable to white matter involvement, and worked to characterize the specific neurobehavioral features of this syndrome, as described in his book, The Behavioral Neurology of White Matter, now in its second edition. His current interests center on the role of disrupted white matter in the etiopathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, a perspective that informs the expanded departmental effort to investigate Alzheimer's Disease.
Lauren C. Frey, MD
Dr. Frey’s research focuses on neurofeedback, a specific mind-body intervention with a long history of being used with people with refractory epilepsy. She is the Director of the Neurofeedback Clinic at the University of Colorado Hospital, and has published studies looking at the effect of neurofeedback training on seizure control and quality of life in patients with epilepsy.
Vera Fridman, MD
Dr. Fridman’s research interests focus of identifying therapies for hereditary nerve disorders (also known as Charcot Marie Tooth Disease). Additionally, she is interested in identifying new forms of hereditary neuropathy and in defining biomarkers that can be used to measure progression in these disorders over time.
Alison Furton, NP
Ms. Furton's research interests includes the management of acute and chronic headache disorders and quality of life of migraine patients.
Principle Investigators G-M
Donald H. Gilden, MD
The Gilden neurovirology laboratory analyzes the physical state of varicella zoster virus (VZV) nucleic acid and viral gene expression in latently infected human ganglia. Studies include state-of-the-art technologies such as polymerase chain reaction, cDNA preparation and microarray to analyze VZV transcription. Interaction of VZV proteins with other virus and cellular proteins are also being examined. In parallel, a model system of varicella in primates produced by simian varicella virus (SVV) is used to study pathogenesis and latency. Most recently, we developed a model of non-lytic VZV infection in neurons in vitro that will allow studies of mechanisms of VZV reactivation. Finally, the neurovirology laboratory has shown that VZV causes giant cell arteritis, thus expanding the spectrum of vasculopathy produced by VZV.Robert H. Gross, MD
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic condition of the central nervous system consisting of inflammatory and neurodegenerative components. Many treatments targeting the immune system have been shown to positively influence the disease course of MS patients, though there remains a significant variability in patient outcomes. Dr. Gross is interested in learning more about this heterogeneity through the identification of blood, spinal fluid, and imaging biomarkers associated with treatment response and with neurological decline.Arash Hadipour-Niktarash, MD
Dr. Hadipour-Niktarash's research interests include multi-scale dynamics and functional network in epileptic brain states, fundamentals of cortical and subcortical oscillations, quantitative EEG, mechanisms of seizure propagation and brain stimulation/neuromodulation.
Carol Hennessy, MSM
Ms. Hennessy has participated as a study coordinator and sub-investigator in studies of stroke treatment and Parkinson’s disease. She is interested in integrative approaches to chronic illness and would like some day to engage in research in this area.
Richard L. Hughes, MD
Dr. Hughes has an extensive history of Clinical Research in Cerebrovascular Disease. This includes multiple NIH Multi-Center trials for Cartotid Endarterectomy, Unruptured Aneurysms, PKD-Related Aneurysm natural history, most recently the Wafarin Aspirin trial in heart failure (WARCEF), and the soon-to-be released Insulin Resistence in Ischemic Stroke (IRIS). He has also participated in many industry supported trials, incluing CAPRI (clopidogrel), PROFESS (ASA/Dipyridamole vs. Clopidogrel), Acute Neuroprotection, PFO Closure, and in the earlty rTPA clinical trials.
Over the past 20 years, Dr. Hughes has become more involved in the scholarship of clinical stroke service delivery. After Co-Directing the Colorado Acute Stroke Network to support hospitals' transition to the rTPA era, he has worked on the AHA national committes for the development and implementaion of Primary Stroke Centers, then Comprehensive Stroke Centers, and soon Acute Stroke Ready Centers. He currently sits on the AHA Hospital Accreditation Committee, which oversees all of the stroke and cardiac programs jointly administrated by the AHA and The Joint Commission.
Drew D. Kern, MD, MS
Dr. Kern is interested in several novel diagnostic approaches and treatment options for movement disorders. These areas include investigating potential biomarkers in parkinsonism, including tissue biopsies of skin and colon as well as cardiac imaging (MIBG SPECT scanning). He has an interest in surgical treatments, particularly deep brain stimulation (DBS), investigating optimal patient selection for dystonic tremor and the use of interleaving stimulation. Finally, he is involved in several clinical trials including botulinium toxin and medications.
Olga S. Klepitskaya, MD
Dr. Klepitskaya’s research interests include surgical treatment for movement disorders, specifically Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), and behavioral aspects of Parkinson’s disease (PD), such as Dopamine Dysregulation Syndrome, cognitive and behavioral outcomes after DBS. She is involved in clinical trials of new medications and new types of surgical treatments for PD and other movement disorders.
Benzi M. Kluger, MD, MS
Dr. Kluger is interested in improving the lives of patients with advanced neurological illnesses through a variety of research approaches. He is investigating the needs of patients and caregivers from a palliative care perspective and testing the efficacy of palliative care interventions for addressing these needs. He is interested in improving our understanding of non motor symptoms, particularly fatigue and cognitive dysfunction, through the use of behavioral, neuroimaging and neurophysiological studies. Lastly, he is interested in exploring non pharmacological approaches to the treatment of non motor symptoms including noninvasive brain stimulation (transcranial magnetic stimulation and direct current stimulation) and complementary and alternative medicine approaches.
Pearce J. Korb, MD
Dr. Korb’s research interests include areas of clinical epilepsy specifically the use of continuous electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring in critically ill patients and the use of advanced imaging techniques (e.g., PET quantification, SPECT analysis, DTI, etc.) for identification of epileptogenic zones as potential targets for epilepsy surgery. He has also been involved with clinical trials for epilepsy. His other areas of research interest include quality improvement for inpatient evaluation and management of neurological emergencies including status epilepticus.
Robert G. Kowalski, MD
Dr. Kowalski’s primary research interests are the acute treatment and outcomes of patients with severe brain juries. These include status epilepticus, intracranial hemorrhage, acute ischemic stroke, traumatic brain injury and coma. Dr. Kowalski has begun a multi-year study of outcomes for survivors of status epilepticus at the University of Colorado Hospital. He also is taking part in research involving outcomes for survivors of acute ischemic stroke treated by the hospital’s Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit.
Dr. Kowalski’s clinical research has focused on application of cooling for febrile patients with severe neurologic injuries. He has studied the role of prolonged mechanical ventilation and vasopressor therapy in patients treated with anti-epileptic medications with anesthetic effect in refractory status epilepticus. He also has studied the role of intracranial mass effect and its reversal in the onset of coma and subsequent awakening after severe brain injury. He currently is exploring the role of traumatic brain injury in precipitating onset of acute ischemic stroke, particularly with concurrent cervical dissection, and in younger adults.
Maureen A. Leehey, MD
Dr. Leehey studies the etiology and treatment of neurodegenerative disease characterized by movement disorders. She and her collaborators discovered the fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS), which affects about 1 in 10,000 men over age 50, especially grandfathers of children with fragile X syndrome. Working with another team of scientists, she uncovered the genetic etiology (a prion mutation) and described the clinical findings of a large family with a rare neurodegenerative disease. Most recently Dr. Leehey is leading research on the effects of cannabidiol (CBD), a component of marijuana, on Parkinson disease. Dr. Leehey continues to she direct multiple clinical trials designed to offer novel medical therapy and to uncover the etiology and genetics of various movement disorders, especially Parkinson disease. She collaborates closely with basic scientists to translate their efforts into meaningful interventions. Her efforts are funded by the National Institutes of Health, Michael J. Fox Foundation, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and other governmental and private agencies.
Edward H. Maa, MD
Dr. Maa is interested in treating medically and surgically refractory epilepsies. He is involved with clinical trials involving the antiepileptic drug development pipeline, but has specific interests in novel therapies including bumetanide and other diuretics, as well as cannabidiol and other phytocompounds used in the treatment of epilepsy. He is currently investigating the use of acupuncture for the treatment of non-epileptic seizures, and has had a long standing interest in the effects of high altitude and patients with epilepsy as well as new onset seizures in travelers to high altitude environments.
Ravi Mahalingam, PhD
Dr. Mahalingam’s laboratory studies varicella pathogenesis and latency and reactivation in an animal model. Studies include the role of cell-mediated immunity in the regulation of varicella latency and reactivation. A bacmid-based approach is used to generate mutant varicella virus to study immune evasion by varicella viruses. State-of-the-art technologies such as multiplex PCR analysis is also used for simultaneous detection of multiple human herpes viruses in biological specimens. Finally, the laboratory uses diagnostic tools to understand neurological complications of zoster including postherpetic neuralgia.
Patrice McMoon, PA-C
Ms. McMoon is currently involved with the research teams for both the Longitudinal Biomarker study in memory and dementia, as well as clinical trials with Leukine and aducanumab. Her other research interests include gain of function in traumatic brain injury and the use of language acquisition to preserve brain function in dementia.
Augusto A. Miravalle, MD
Dr. Miravalle is currently involved as Principal Investigator and/or Sub Investigator in multiple clinical trials at the University of Colorado. Many of these studies involve novel immunotherapies, as well as cutting edge therapeutic approaches for the treatment of MS. Dr. Miravalle has a particular interest in imaging studies that evaluate early detectors for future disability in MS patients. He is active in the local and regional community, lecturing frequently in patient programs and scientific meetings.
Principal Investigators N-R
Maria A. Nagel, MD
Dr. Nagel specializes in neurovirology and studies how varicella zoster virus (VZV), which causes chicken pox and shingles, causes stroke. Her clinical studies include defining the frequency of VZV in patients with stroke, giant cell arteritis, and atypical facial pain. Her basic science studies focuses on the role of purinergic signaling and inflammation on VZV-induced pathological vascular remodeling.
Douglas E. Ney, MD
Dr. Ney’s clinical research focuses on innovative and novel treatments for patients with glioma, central nervous system lymphoma and other primary and secondary brain tumors. Research interests also include histiocytic disorders, quality of life and patient reported outcomes in patients with brain tumors, neurologic complications of cancer and paraneoplastic disorders.
Darcy O'Banion, CNS
Ms. O'Banion is interested in research that focuses on the etiology, prevention and treatment of stroke, along with an interest in the quality of care of patients with ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes in the acute care setting and determinants of stroke recovery.
Chantal O'Brien, MD
Dr. O’Brien is currently involved as an Investigator in the Epilepsy Surgery Quality Improvement project and Sub Investigator in multiple industry sponsored clinical trials of novel anti-epileptics at the University of Colorado.
Debra O'Reilly, MS, PA-C
Debra O’Reilly, PA-C is interested in clinical trials for the treatment of ALS. She is actively involved in a trial investigating the use of diaphragmatic stimulation to assist ventilation in patients with ALS and a new drug in the treatment of ALS. She is also working on a quality improvement project to address and treat depression in patients with neuromuscular disease. Lastly, she is involved in the treatment of myasthenia gravis with Rituximab.
Karen D. Orjuela, MD
Dr. Orjuela’s research interests include areas of vascular neurology specifically secondary stroke prevention, cryptogenic stroke, inherited cerebrovascular disorders and stroke in children and young adults. Her other areas of research interest include stroke disparities worldwide and stroke systems of care in developing countries.
Gregory P. Owens, PhD
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a CNS inflammatory disease of unknown cause. Dr. Owens’ research investigates the role of B cell immunity in the pathogenesis of MS. To better understand the nature of this response, they have used fluorescence-activated cell sorting and single cell PCR to analyze the B and plasma cell populations infiltrating the CNS of MS patients. The features of the B cell repertoire are indicative of a targeted and antigen driven response in MS. They have generated a panel of monoclonal recombinant antibodies from plasma cell clones identified in MS CSF and are using recombinant antibodies for immunological screening to identify disease relevant MS antigens.
Daniel M. Pastula, MD, MHS
As a neurologist, medical epidemiologist, and former CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer, Dr. Pastula is interested in the intersection between neurology, epidemiology, and public health. He has a variety of epidemiologic research interests. First, he is interested in the epidemiology of vector-borne and arboviral diseases (e.g., West Nile, dengue, Zika, Powassan, Japanese encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, yellow fever, chikungunya, eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), Jamestown Canyon, La Crosse, Heartland, and Bourbon virus diseases). Second, he is interested in the epidemiology of infectious meningitis, encephalitis, myelitis, and acute flaccid paralysis. Third, he is interested in the epidemiology of neurotoxins and neurotoxicology. Fourth, he is interested in the epidemiology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other neuromuscular disorders. His goal is to use public health and epidemiologic skills to better understand various neurologic conditions.
Victoria S. Pelak, MD
Dr. Pelak’s research investigates cortical visual processing, with a particular interest in the effects of aging and dementia on visual motion processing. She is exploring new methods to diagnose and track cortical visual dysfunction in early Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Traditionally, it is believed that visual processing deficits occur in the middle or late stages of AD. Recent studies from her Visual Perception Laboratory have demonstrated that visual processing deficits (as detected by a novel virtual task of kinetopsic 3D object processing developed by her research group) may be readily detectable in the very early stages of AD; this may have implications for predicting progression from mild memory impairment to AD. Additional ongoing investigations include studies of the effects of testosterone on visual motion/object/spatial processing and studies of visual hallucinations associated with degenerative disorders and vision loss. Methods of assessment include psychophysical testing using immersive virtual reality technology in her Visual Perception Laboratory and functional MRI techniques at the UCDSOM Brain Imaging Center
Sharon N. Poisson, MD
Dr. Poisson’s research focuses on etiology, prevention and treatment of transient ischemic attack (TIA) and stroke. She has conducted research evaluating gender roles in the treatment of carotid stenosis in TIA, as well as the role of intracranial large vessel stenoses in TIA. She has a specific interest in the increasing trends of ischemic stroke in young adults, and is studying the role of atherosclerotic risk factors and race as potential causes of this trend, as well as the role of endothelial activation in stroke in the young. In addition, she has an interest in the quality of hospital care of patients with ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.
Huntington Potter, PhD
Our current research is devoted to laboratory and clinical investigation of neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and trisomy 21/Down syndrome (DS), which also induces AD by age 40. We hypothesized and showed that AD patients develop trisomy 21 and other aneuploid cells, including neurons, during the course of their life and thus that AD is a mosaic form of DS. We recently found the mechanism by which aneuploidy develops in AD: the Abeta peptide inhibits certain microtubule based kinesin motor proteins and thus prevents the transport of key cellular components, including vesicles, chromosomes, and microtubules themselves to their proper locations in the cell. As a result, dividing cells mis-segregate their chromosomes, generating aneuploid, including trisomy 21 cells in AD patients, cells in culture, and transgenic AD mice. Neurons also fail to localize neurotrophin and neurotransmitter receptors to the cell surface, resulting in the poor neuroplasticity. We have also found aneuploid neurons and other cells in patients and mouse models of Niemann Pick C and Fronto-Temporal Dementia, and that the aneuploid cells are prone to apoptosis, suggesting that chromosome mis-segregation may underlie many different forms of neurodegeneration. We are currently investigating the mechanism of chromosome mis-segregation and searching for means to prevent or reverse it. We also hypothesized that rheumatoid arthritis patients, who seldom develop AD release an endogenous protective molecule and showed that GMCSF and GCSF, over produced in RA, reverse AD pathology and cognitive deficits in a mouse model of AD. We are currently carrying out a clinical trial to test the safety and efficacy of human GMCSF (Leukine) in AD patients and have proposed a similar trial in DS. Finally, we showed some time ago that apoE4, the strongest risk factor for late onset AD, other than age itself, exerts its effect by catalyzing the conversion of monomeric Abeta into the multimeric form that is toxic to neurons and accumulates as amyloid deposits. We are currently searching for molecules that block the catalytic activity of apoE.
Robert W. Pratt, MD
Dr. Pratt has been a clinical investigator for many stroke therapy national and international trials, and has worked to decrease time to treatment for area stroke patients.
Peter S. Pressman, MD
Peter Pressman is interested in verbal and nonverbal communication in neurodegenerative diseases, particularly the frontotemporal dementias. He is particularly interested in applications of computational linguistics and paralinguistics to the assessment of neurological patients.
Dianna Quan, MD
Dr. Quan is involved in in clinical trials to study transthyretin familial amyloid polyneuropathy, new clinical therapies in ALS, and neuromuscular dysfunction in critical illness.
Jeff Reynek, NP
Mr. Reynek is interested in research about the impact of headaches on daily life, with a focus on the diagnosis and management of head pain conditions.
Steven P. Ringel, MD
Dr. Ringel’s current investigative activities focus heavily on quality, safety and effectiveness studies. He has organized department-wide inpatient and ambulatory performance improvement projects and is assisting each subspecialty section of the department in the development of quality and safety projects. He is currently involved in a multi-university therapeutic trial in ALS. Another current trial involves testing the efficacy of diaphragmatic stimulation to assist ventilation in ALS. A third ongoing trial is looking at the compartative effectiveness of four medications to reduce discomfort in painful neuropathies.
Principal Investigators S-Z
Jessica Scharein, DNP, NP-C
Improved management of patients presenting to the ED with primary headaches, components leading to medication overuse headaches, and non-pharmacological interventions to decrease headache days for migraine patients.
Teri L. Schreiner, MD, MPH
Dr. Schreiner's research interests include genetic and environmental triggers of pediatric multiple sclerosis, immunotherapies for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, and quality of life in pediatric patients with demyelinating diseases. In collaboration with others on campus, she also studies biomarkers of disease activity in MS.
Lauren C. Seeberger, MD
Dr. Seeberger has conducted over 80 clinical trials for the advancement of treatments in movement disorders. Her research has involved patients with Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Essential tremor, Dystonia, Tics and Restless Legs Syndrome. Dr. Seeberger has a strong interest in the use of rehabilitation in chronic disease. She has recently been selected as an investigator for a therapeutic trial in asymptomatic Huntington’s disease.
Archana A. Shrestha, MD
Dr. Shrestha studies women’s issues in epilepsy and changes in seizures and seizure medications during pregnancy, including pharmacokinetic changes in anticonvulsants during pregnancy; the utility and effectiveness of MEG scans in patients undergoing epilepsy surgery evaluation; and therapeutic options in patients with medically refractory epilepsy, including epilepsy surgery, stimulating devices and clinical medication trials. She is also interested in ICU and continuous EEG monitoring and epilepsy in developing countries.
Stefan Sillau, PhD
Dr. Sillau's interests include regression, generalized linear models, longitudinal data and mixed models, covariates measured with error, survival and event analysis, non-parametric/semi-parametric methods, clinical trials, sampling, and missing data issues.
Jennifer Simpson, MD
Dr. Simpson has multiple quality improvement projects, in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. She has outpatient initiatives that help to reduce admissions and improve patient experience in clinic. On the inpatient side, she is working to improve efficiency and timeliness of acute stroke treatment. She is also the local principal investigator for a national trial involving patients with transient ischemic attack.
John R Sladek, Jr. Ph.D
Dr. Sladek’s laboratory, since his early publications on the chemical neuroanatomy of mammalian brain, has focused on the unique distribution of the histologically identifiable monoamine neurotransmitters, especially dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin as well as peptidergic neurons of the hypothalamus including vasopressin, oxytocin, LHRH and others. His laboratory developed dual localization techniques that permitted detailed studies in higher order primates. His interests in the role these neurotransmitters played in normal brain function led to novel investigations during development and aging that suggested functional interactions between specific systems. In 1980, his pivotal publication in Science demonstrated that fetal neurons could be transplanted to the brain of a genetic mutant rat that that was incapable of producing vasopressin and that grafted fetal neurons could survive, integrate with the host brain and restore a lost neural function. This lead to new and continuing studies on the potential for fetal dopamine neurons to restore motor activity in a primate model of Parkinson’s disease. His proof of principle findings led to the first clinical trials in parkinson patients and in recent years have been extended to incorporate human neural stem cells in the experimental protocols. Professor Sladek continues his exploration of the ability of the primate brain to respond to various neural repair strategies including the potential for induction of neurogenesis in response to injury. His work has been supported continuously by NIH, NSF and several foundations since 1974. Dr. Sladek is the founding President of the American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair, has presented his work at over 350 invited meetings and seminars and is Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of the journal, Experimental Neurology.
Mark C. Spitz, MD
Dr. Spitz’ clinical research includes epilepsy that begins in the elderly, psychiatric aspects of epilepsy and physical injuries that occur from seizures. Dr. Spitz is involved in several ongoing medication trials.
Kristin Stockman, NP
Ms. Stockman’s research interests include immunotherapies and the impact of integrative medicine on quality of life for patients with multiple sclerosis.
Laura A. Strom, MD
Dr. Strom is currently working on investigator initiated clinical research with two different areas of interest. She continues to be very interested in the influence on patients with medically refractory epilepsy of the autonomic nervous system. She is working with resident physician, Dr. Peter Bergmann on a project to investigate how heart rate variability may predict changes in heart rate during seizure activity. Her second area of active interest is in the impact on epilepsy of hormones. She is working with another resident, Dr. Danielle McDermott to develop a research project looking at fluctuations in sex hormone levels in patient with medically refractory epilepsy. In addition to clinical research, Dr. Strom is primary investigator for several industry sponsored clinical trials of novel anti-epileptics as well as novel uses for anti-epileptic drugs which are already on the market.
Whitney L. Tice, FNP
Ms. Tice's research interests include psychosis in Parkinson's Disease, caregiver support in chronic disease progression, the role of CBD in pain management, and long term effects of ICU delirium on cognition and depression.
Jean Tsai, MD
Dr. Tsai is interested in the regulation of sleep and the biological effects of sleep. The interaction between sleep disorders and neurological diseases, such as that between sleep apnea and stroke, RBD and neurodegenerative disorders, and RLS and movement disorders, is an area of particular importance.
Kenneth L. Tyler, MD
Dr. Tyler’s laboratory uses both in vivo and in vitro models to study the molecular and genetic basis of viral pathogenesis and viral-induced cell death in the CNS. Major current projects include: (1) Identifying differences in patterns of gene expression in the brain and the cognate signaling pathways induced by distinct neurotropic viruses, including reoviruses and flaviviruses (West Nile and Japanese encephalitis virus), in an effort to identify novel therapeutic targets for antiviral therapy; (2) Investigating the neuroinflammatory responses to CNS viral infections, including the activation of astrocytes, microglia and chemokine/cytokine production in experimental models utilizing mice and ex vivo brain and spinal cord slice cultures; and (3) Studying the mechanism of virus-induced CNS apoptosis, including mitochondrial and cell-death mediated pathways, and the impact of modulating these pathways on CNS injury and neuronal death.
Daniel Vela-Duarte, MD
Cervicocephalic arterial dissections is one of several causes of stroke both in children and young adults. Despite of multiple etiologies implied, risk factors for recurrent dissection, particularly in the absence of connective tissue disease, have not been well described. Spontaneous dissection of multiple vessels and recurrence is exceedingly rare, therefore it is one of my clinical interests is to describe and characterize this entity.
Intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) is a devastating subtype of stroke, being responsible of 10-20% of all incidents worldwide. The mobile stroke unit (MSTU) is an on-site pre-hospital treatment team that incorporates laboratory and CT scanner, proven to be beneficial for the management of acute ischemic stroke, by early administration of thrombolytic therapy and rapid identification of patients likely to benefit from endovascular therapies. Hematoma expansion remains one of the most common complications in patients with spontaneous intracranial hemorrhage, being the major cause of mortality. The unit therefore, enables early diagnosis of ICH after activation of the emergency system. Thus, It is one of my interests, to study the impact of the MSTU and prompt initiation of these treatments.
I also have interests in uncommon causes of stroke; including hypercoagulable states associated with malignancies, acquired and inherited procoagulative states (Prothrombin Gene G20210A Mutation, Antithrombin III deficiency, Factor V Leiden, etc), antiphospholipid syndrome and primary and secondary vasculitis.
Timothy L. Vollmer, MD
Dr. Vollmer is the Director of Neurosciences Clinical Research. He is currently involved as Principle Investigator or Sub Investigator on approximately 30 clinical studies in multiples sclerosis at the University of Colorado. Many of these studies involve immunotherapies for the treatment of this disease. Dr. Vollmer has a particular interest in investigator-initiated clinical trials focusing on optimizing current therapies and combinations of therapies using volumetric MRI and biomarkers as key outcome assessments. He also collaborates with several basic science laboratories on mechanism of action of newer MS therapies, and is working in collaboration to develop a vaccine approach to MS that involves inducing regulatory B lymphocytes that target CNS antigens. To date, Dr. Vollmer has completed over 100 clinical studies in MS. He is active in the local, regional and international communities conducting research in MS. He lectures frequently in the United States and internationally.
Anastacia Wall, PA-C
Ms. Wall's research interests include immunotherapies for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients and quality of life in patients with demyelinating diseases.
Stacey A. Wilson, PA-C
I am interested in epilepsy as a whole, and the improvement in the quality of life of our patients. I am also very interested in more effective treatments for those with non-epileptic seizures and improving their prognosis through better mental health services.
Jonathan H. Woodcock, MD
Dr. Woodcock directs clinical research projects in dementia including medication trials in Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive and functional deficits in adults with Down syndrome, and assessment and management of behavioral syndromes in dementia.
Yonghua Zhuang, MD, PhD
Dr. Zhuang has been investigating the mechanisms of reovirus-induced cell death both in vitro and in vivo during reovirus encephalitis. One of the goals of his studies is the identification of novel cellular targets with potential therapeutic applicability for viral encephalitis. Dr. Zhuang and his colleagues demonstrated that Daxx up-regulation within the cytoplasm of reovirus-infected cells is mediated by interferon and contributes to apoptosis. In most cell types, including neurons within the brain, mitochondrial apoptotic signaling pathways are activated and appear to be required for pathogenesis. Dr. Zhuang currently focuses on studying mitochondrial apoptotic activity of p53 in neuron upon reovirus infection.
Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is a neurotropic DNA alphaherpesvirus that infects >95% of the world population. Primary infection causes varicella (chickenpox) after which VZV becomes latent in cranial nerve ganglia, dorsal root ganglia and autonomic ganglia along the entire neuraxis. As VZV-specific cell-mediated immunity declines in elderly or immunosuppressed individuals, VZV reactivates to cause zoster (shingles). Zoster may be further complicated by infection of cerebral arteries, resulting in pathological vascular remodeling and stroke (VZV vasculopathy). My research interests involve the immunological aspects associated with VZV reactivation, with a focus on VZV vasculopathy.