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Neurotrauma Research Program

In this file photo, research technician Laila Kirkpatrick (left) and professor Dana Hawley (right) examine a house finch to determine how susceptible it is to a common bacterial pathogen, conjunctivitis. Photo courtesy of Jim Stroup for Virginia Tech.
Representation of neuroinflammation in the brain

Mission Statement:

The Virginia Tech (VT) Neurotrauma program is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Biomedical Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, the School of Neuroscience, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), and the Carilion Brain Injury Center. By conducting comprehensive research into the neuro-immunological aspects of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), we aim to advance our understanding of the underlying mechanisms involved in post-traumatic sequelae and develop innovative approaches for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation.

Research Efforts:

In light of the alarming prevalence and profound impact of traumatic brain injuries (TBI), the launch of the Neurotrauma Research Program (NTRP) at Virginia Tech presents a promising opportunity for a groundbreaking shift in our comprehension and treatment of TBI. With over 400,000 Northern Virginians, including veterans, grappling with brain injuries, the urgency for comprehensive research and practical solutions has never been greater.  The program's forward-thinking approach, fortified by its distinctive interdisciplinary collaboration between Virginia Tech's Veterinary Medicine, School of Neuroscience, and Biomedical Engineering & Mechanics, exemplifies a fusion of diverse expertise and resources. This synergy of talent, drawing on the strengths of multiple disciplines, is a testament to the program's commitment to tackling the multifaceted challenges of neurotrauma research.

The primary objectives of this program encompass an ambitious agenda, with the goal of creating a Neuro-Immunologic Common Data set that will serve as a fundamental resource for identifying pivotal neuroimmune mechanisms and multi-modal indicators of neuroinflammation in Neurotrauma. The Neurotrauma Research Program intends to support Virginia Tech's TBI bio- and data repository, providing an invaluable resource for future research and analysis. These combined efforts will pave the way for a systematic analysis of the cellular and molecular features influencing the neuroinflammatory pathways involved in TBI outcomes. The program aims to uncover therapeutic targets, predictive signatures, and multi-modal biomarkers that can effectively categorize and treat individuals with post-traumatic epilepsy, neurocognitive deficits, and other chronic conditions.

Image of the Neurotrauma Research Program Team
  1. Iyengar, S., Lubbers L., Harte-Hargrove L., CURE Epilepsy Post-Traumatic Initiate Advisors and Investigators.  A team science approach for the preclinical and clinical characterization and biomarker development for post-traumatic epilepsy. Epilepsia, volume 8, issue 3, p 820-833. April 17, 2023.
  2. Cash, A., Brickler, T., de Jager, C., Johnson, Z., Mills J., Ju, J., Sotiropoulos, Y., Chen, M., Wang, X., Xie, H., and Theus MH. Endothelial deletion of EPH receptor A4 alters single-cell profile and Tie2/Akap12 signaling to preserve blood-brain barrier integrity. PNAS. 2023. Oct 1;120(41):e2204700120.
  3. Gudenschwager Basso EK., Shandra A, Volanth T., Patel D., Kelly C., Olsen M$ et al and Theus MH*$. Atypical neurogenesis, astrogliosis, and excessive hilar interneuron loss associates with the development of post-traumatic epilepsy. Cells. 2023, 12(9), 1248.

*Contributions made to NRP are allocated exclusively towards supporting the establishment of a novel research center aligned with their organizational objectives as a component of the FLSI initiative.