Explore This Lab


The Chung Lab within the Neurovasvcular Research Unit takes translational preclinical (basic science) and clinical research approaches with the ultimate aim of restoring function in people who have had brain injury from a ruptured brain aneurysm.

A major barrier to curing disability after a brain aneurysm rupture is that there is not enough known about fundamental causes of poor patient outcome. Therefore, we use animal models of disease to determine which disease-related factors are responsible for worsening outcomes.

We also believe that there are areas where the science is currently mature enough to be tested in humans. Therefore, we have ongoing clinical projects to test strategies to optimize the care of critically ill brain injured patients in the hospital.

To carry out our goals, we rely on a multidisciplinary network of investigators within the Neurovascular Research Unit at Harvard Medical School and at institutions around the country.

Principal Investigator:

David Chung, MD, PhD

David Chung, MD, PhD

Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Instructor in Neurology, Harvard Medical School

Research Projects

Our main disease model is aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage in mice. We have several ways of simulating a brain aneurysm rupture available in the lab, including blood injection, spontaneous aneurysm rupture, and arterial puncture.

Cortical spreading depolarizations as a mechanism of ongoing brain injury after aneurysm rupture

We are investigating the role of an electrical and vascular phenomenon called cortical spreading depolarizations on outcome following aneurysm rupture. Prior work in humans have shown that worse outcomes are associated with the presence of cortical spreading depolarizations; however, it is not known if cortical spreading depolarizations actually cause worse outcomes or if they are simply a result of an already damaged brain. The only way to further understand this relationship is to perform experiments in the lab using non-invasive approaches developed by our group.

Induction of an experimental spreading depolarization using optogenetics. We use blue light to activate neurons in transgenic optogenetic mice to non-invasively cause spreading depolarizations. We use this approach to determine the effect of spreading depolarizations on the injured brain. Video is 20x normal speed. See study.

Disordered network connectivity as a mechanism of worse cognitive outcomes after aneurysm rupture

We are testing if the strength of network connections within the brain affects cognitive outcomes like memory and decision-making. We use several innovative experimental approaches in mouse models to achieve our goals, including non-invasive optical brain imaging, behavioral tests, tissue outcomes and MRI.

Disordered network connectivity
Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) leads to alterations in resting state functional connectivity.
SAH leads to decreased changes in blood volume in the BOLD frequency range. See study.

Traumatic brain injury shares common pathophysiological features with ruptured brain aneurysms

Together with our collaborators, we utilize a closed-head injury of traumatic brain injury in mice to determine the role of cortical spreading depolarizations and disordered network connectivity on functional outcomes. The goal of all of these projects is to understand enough about the disease process to develop new therapies that improve outcomes following brain injury.

Above, traumatic brain injury in mice leads to decreased cerebral blood flow (CBF) and can be detected with optical imaging. See study.

Critical care management of patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage

We have found that outcomes and length of stay in patients with a ruptured brain aneurysm can be improved by optimizing the management of a catheter used to drain fluid from the brain. We are now leading an ongoing study to test if this drain management approach can be applied to other hospitals.

A new approach to patient management decreased the need for additional brain surgery to place a permanent catheter in ruptured aneurysm survivors. See study.

Research Positions

All funded research positions are currently filled, but we always welcome enthusiastic students and fellows to join us in the lab. Please contact us by email for more information.


The Chung Lab is currently supported by the National Institutes of Health (K08NS112601), the Andrew David Heitman Foundation, the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, and the Aneurysm and AVM Foundation.

Dr. Chung has received past support from the National Institutes of Health (KL2TR002542, R25NS065743, R25NS070697), the Timothy P. Susco and Andrew David Heitman Foundation Chairs of Research from the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, and the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association (18POST34030369).

Donor support helps advance science and enhance patient care. If you would like to make a gift to the Chung Lab, please visit giving.massgeneral.org and check the box to designate your gift to a specific area and note “Chung Lab.” You may also contact Elizabeth Barberio at ebarberio@partners.org or 617-643-9703.


See publications from the Chung Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital.