Research Centers

Traumatic Brain Injury Research Laboratory

Our laboratory focuses on secondary mechanisms of acute brain injury including trauma and intracerebral hemorrhage.

Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death in children and accounts for over 50,000 deaths in the United States each year.  Survivors are left with lifelong motor and cognitive deficits and suffer from neuropsychiatric sequelae such as depression and PTSD, as well as from memory impairment and depressed executive functioning.  To date, there is no specific treatment for the neurological sequelae of severe brain trauma; therapy is directed toward reduction of intracranial pressure and maintaining physiological homeostasis.  Similarly, non-traumatic intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), accounting for 15% of all strokes, has a high mortality rate and no specific therapy to improve outcome in survivors.  We use adult and pediatric TBI and ICH models and concentrate our studies in the following categories:

  • Role of tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily components in the pathogenesis of cerebral contusion and concussion TBI.   
  • Role of programmed necrosis (necroptosis mediated by RIPK1) in the pathogenesis of cell death and cognitive outcome after cerebral contusion and ICH
  • Secondary injury mechanisms that mediate cognitive dysfunction after single and multiple concussion TBI
  • Role of the APOE4 genotype in cognitive outcome after concussion
  • Membrane resealing agents to reduce blood brain barrier damage and brain edema after contusion TBI
  • Role of CCR2 and CX3CR1 in the pathogenesis of cognitive dysfunction after contusion and concussion TBI and ICH
  • Low level laser light photobiomodulation to reduce cognitive deficits after TBI
  • Development of an immature and adult mouse models of concussion TBI

Our approach includes the use of genetically modified mice, viral vector gene transduction, standard molecular techniques, cell death studies, and mouse behavioral assessments including fear learning and extinction to assess the PTSD phenotype and its interaction with TBI.  Major funding sources are the NIH/NINDS, DOD, and NFL Charities Foundation.  We are affiliated with the MGH Neuroscience Center.

Traumatic Brain Injury Research Laboratory

Phone: 617-643-3933

Michael Whalen, MD


What will we discover next?

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