Explore This Laboratory

Clinical Overview

Our research is focused on understanding the immature brain and its response to injury with the goal of helping infants and children. Traumatic brain injury is the single most common cause of death and disability in children in the United States, and in many other countries as well. An infant’s brain is different from that of a grade-school child, which is different from that of an adolescent, and we are working to understand these differences and how they influence both response to injury and to repair and recovery.  Children who are injured may have lifetime problems which we don’t know yet how to prevent or help. Our work is aimed at learning how to better treat the millions of children with this and similar problems, now and in the future.

Pre-clinical Overview

The majority of severe traumatic brain injury during infancy is due to abuse. Severe traumatic brain injury from abuse results in a high rate of mortality and morbidity, including post-traumatic epilepsy, blindness, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability and behavioral disorders.  We study specific brain damage patterns that commonly result from abusive head trauma to understand the factors and cellular cascades that contribute to ongoing brain tissue damage even after the child arrives at the hospital. We are learning that traumatic seizures and subarachnoid hemorrhage may be the key factors that drive the extensive spreading of tissue damage. Additionally, we observe that immature migrating neurons appear to localize and differentiate around white matter lacerations. We aim to determine if these neuroblasts help fix the damaged tissue or instead contribute to post-traumatic sequelae of traumatic brain injury and alter postnatal brain development. By understanding the pathophysiological cascades and neurogenesis induced by severe traumatic brain injury, we can identify therapeutic targets and test potential therapies specific to the damage pattern and stage of development in children, and ultimately reduce the extent of brain damage, death and disability resulting from abusive head trauma.

Pre-clinical Research Topics

  • Identifying potential therapeutic targets for abusive head trauma
  • The role of spreading depression in hemispheric hypodensity
  • Neuroblasts around white matter lacerations
  • The role of the extracellular matrix in the development of post-traumatic epilepsy
  • Theranostic cellular backpacks for precision imaging and treatment of traumatic brain injury

Pre-clinical Research Collaborators

  • Declan McGuone, MBBCh, FRCPath Neuro, Yale School of Medicine
  • Christopher Nguyen, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Cardiovascular Research Center and the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging
  • Samir Mitrogatri, Harvard University, John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Wyss Institute

Pre-clinical Lab Members

  • Beth Costine-Bartell, PhD, Principle Investigator
  • Ann-Christine Duhaime, MD, Co-Investigator
  • Amy Boahan, MD, Neurosurgery Resident
  • Luis Martinez-Ramirez, Technician, BS from University of Pennsylvania
  • Steven Everett, Technician, BS from Boston College
  • Frances Rodriguez Lara, Boston University School of Medicine
  • Tess Martino Del Prado, Volunteer, Boston University
  • John Dempsey, Volunteer, Boston College
  • Andrew Ding, Volunteer, Boston College
  • Caroline Kaplan, Volunteer, Boston College
  • Akhila Penumarthy, Volunteer, Boston College
  • Marco Rodriguez, Volunteer, Tufts University
  • Praneel Sunkavalli, Volunteer, Northeastern University
  • Jason Zhu, Volunteer, Boston College