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Research and Labs

Research and Labs

Faculty members and staff in the Department of Neurology at the University of Wisconsin are conducting basic and clinical research programs within the neurosciences.The department is committed to the translation of basic research findings to the clinical domain and actively encourages and facilitates interactions and collaborations between clinicians and basic scientists both within the department and in other departments and
schools.

Research activities are funded by government, foundation, private donor and industry sponsors.  Research programs are an integral part of the department’s mission and play a central role in its activities. Basic science research is focused in computational neuroscience physical theory, epileptogenesis, neuropsychology, plasticity, biology of neural stem cells and embryonic stem cells and neural differentiation.

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Melanie Boly, M.D., Ph.D.

Melanie Boly, M.D., Ph.D.
Melanie Boly, M.D., Ph.D.

My research aims at combining neuroimaging techniques such as PET, functional MRI, TMS-EEG, and high-density EEG to a theoretical framework, the Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness, hoping to uncover the neural mechanisms of the level and contents of consciousness in healthy subjects and neurological patients. I am board certified in neurology in both Europe and the US.

Melanie Boly Profile

Dr. Boly’s Lab

Corrina Burger, Ph.D.

Corinna Burger, Ph.D.
Corinna Burger, Ph.D.

Our lab is interested in two main problems in molecular neuroscience: the molecular biology of learning and memory, and the genetic mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disorders.

 

 

 

Corrina Burger Profile

Dr. Burger’s Lab

Qiang Chang, Ph.D.

Qiang Chang, Ph.D.Our lab is interested in two main problems in molecular neuroscience: the molecular biology of learning and memory, and the genetic mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disorders.

 

Qiang Chang Profile

Dr. Chang’s Research

Bolanle Famakin, M.D.

Bolanle Famakin, M.D.
Bolanle Famakin, M.D.

Innate immune activation during acute and chronic focal cerebral ischemia:

The Famakin Lab is investigating the innate immune response to acute and chronic focal cerebral ischemia. Specifically, we are interested in identifying the temporal and cellular specificity of innate immune pathways activated during the acute and chronic phases of focal cerebral ischemia. We use the Middle Cerebral Artery occlusion model, in rodents, as a model of experimental focal cerebral ischemia. We also use in vitro models of cerebral ischemia to confirm the involvement, and identify key control points, in important pathways activated during acute and chronic focal cerebral ischemia. We are also interested in the role of the innate immune response in modulating repair and recovery during chronic stroke. Some of the other tools we employ in our research include fluorescent imaging and various molecular biology techniques. The goal of these studies is to obtain foundational knowledge needed to develop novel therapeutic targets, or re-purpose old drugs, that can ameliorate damaging inflammation during the acute phase and potentiate repair during the chronic reparative phase of stroke

 

Bolanle Famakin Profile

Famakin Lab

Catherine Gallagher, M.D.

Catherine Gallagher, M.D.
Catherine Gallagher, M.D.

Dr. Gallagher’s research aims to develop new neuroimaging biomarkers for the pathology and progression of Parkinson’s disease. In particular, the lab is interested in how disease-related changes in brain connectivity affect cognition in Parkinson’s disease. Currently we are recruiting Parkinson’s and control subjects to participate in a longitudinal MRI study, and are preparing to analyze novel image sequences from the first time point. Data analyses will include looking for associations between standardized cognitive and motor evaluations and brain imaging parameters such as functional and structural connectivity, volumetric studies, and quantification of white matter hyperintensity volume.

 

Catherine Gallagher Profile

Gallagher Lab

David Hsu, M.D., Ph.D.

David Hsu, M.D., Ph.D.
David Hsu, M.D., Ph.D.

Brain function must manifest in the spatiotemporal patterns of neuronal activity.  What’s the secret?  How can we crack the code?  We discuss two properties of brain systems that may be key: the recent finding that neocortical slice cultures show what is called critical homeostasis, and the very old and well known finding that the intact brain shows oscillations.  Critical homeostasis addresses the spatial connectivity-related aspects of these patterns, while oscillations address the temporal patterns.  Disorders of critical homeostasis and abnormal oscillations may result in neurological disorders including epilepsy, mental retardation and movement disorders.

 

David Hsu Profiile

Hsu Lab

Zhen Huang, Ph.D.

Zhen Huang, Ph.D.
Zhen Huang, Ph.D.

The cerebral cortex is the site of higher cognitive function in the brain. Its function depends critically on the intricate organization at several levels within the cortex. This ranges from the global organization of neuronal cell bodies in the cortex (e.g., the formation of cortical layers), to the elaboration of distinct dendritic patterns by various types of neurons, and eventually to the formation of specific synaptic connections among the different types of neurons. My lab is interested in several aspects of the development of the cerebral cortex. We are particularly interested in how these different levels of organization in the cerebral cortex arise during normal development and how they are affected in and contribute to human diseases. We are using several approaches including mouse genetics and in vitro tissue culture to address these questions.

 

Zhen Huang Profile

Huang Lab

Hrissanthi “Chris” Ikonomidou, M.D., Ph.D.

Hrissanthi "Chris" Ikonomidou, M.D., Ph.D.
Hrissanthi “Chris” Ikonomidou, M.D., Ph.D.

The goal of my research is to understand how the developing brain reacts to various insults and find ways to protect it. The knowledge gained may help optimize therapeutic interventions in infants born prematurely, infants and children with brain injuries, seizures, neurodevelopmental disorders or cancer.

 

Chris Ikonomidou Profile

Ikonomidou Lab

Robert Kotloski, M.D., Ph.D.

Robert Kotloski, M.D., Ph.D.
Robert Kotloski, M.D., Ph.D.

My laboratory studies the neurophysiologic, molecular, and cellular mechanisms underlying development of epilepsy (epileptogenesis) in an animal model, with a goal of identifying biomarkers and therapeutic targets.  Current efforts are focused on the development of epilepsy following a traumatic brain injury (post-traumatic epileptogenesis).

 

Robert Kotloski Profile

Kotloski Lab

Christopher Luzzio, M.D.

Christopher Luzzio, M.D.
Christopher Luzzio, M.D.

Dr. Luzzio has an affiliate appointment in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and a grant to study methods of treating hydrocephalus.

 

 

 

Christopher Luzzio Profile

Dr. Luzzio’s Research

Rama Maganti, M.D.

Rama Maganti, M.D.
Rama Maganti, M.D.

Our current research is focused in two areas:

1. Understanding relationship between sleep and epilepsy, circadian distribution of seizures and clock genes

2. Understanding relationship between sleep, memory and synaptic plasticity in a developing brain

 

Rama Maganti Profile

Maganti Lab

Aaron Struck, M.D.

Aaron Struck, M.D.
Aaron Struck, M.D.

Molecular Imaging in Epilepsy:
In collaboration with the Department of Medical Physics and Radiology we use novel radiotracers and PET imaging to explore the underlying causes of epilepsy with the goal of developing new avenues for treatment. Studies underway include agents targeting tau and inflammation.

Continuous EEG in Patients with Critical Illness:
We are finding ways to optimize the care of patients with critical neurologic illness through the better use and interpretation of continuous EEG monitoring.

Automated Natural Language Interpretation of EEG:
We seek methods to expand the application and reliability of EEG using machine learning techniques to automate several aspects of EEG interpretation.

 

Aaron Struck Profile

Struck Lab

Thomas Sutula, M.D., Ph.D.

Thomas Sutula, M.D., Ph.D.
Thomas Sutula, M.D., Ph.D.

Our group studies activity-dependent circuit plasticity in the developing and adult hippocampus, a region of brain that plays a role in learning, memory, and epilepsy

 

 

Thomas Sutula Profile

Sutula Lab

Marcelo Vargas, Ph.D.

Marcelo Vargas, Ph.D.
Marcelo Vargas, Ph.D.

The long-term goal of my research program is to develop new therapeutic strategies using mechanistic insights drawn from understanding astrocyte-motor neuron interaction in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). While the degeneration of motor neurons is the characteristic feature of ALS, astrocytes play a key role determining motor neuron fate in the course of the disease. Astrocytes from diverse ALS models induce motor neuron death in co-culture models and several strategies aimed at reverting astrocyte-mediated toxicity increase motor neuron survival and improve motor performance in ALS mouse models. Our goal is to better understand astrocyte biology and define the therapeutic value of modulating mitochondrial function, antioxidant defenses and astrocyte-neuron metabolic coupling in the context of ALS.

Marcelo Vargas Profile

Dr. Vargas’ Lab

Cara Westmark, Ph.D.

Cara Westmark, Ph.D.
Cara Westmark, Ph.D.

Dr. Westmark’s basic and translational science research in the fields of Alzheimer’s disease and fragile X syndrome focuses on the synaptic function of amyloid beta protein precursor (APP) and amyloid-beta. The goal is to identify therapeutic and dietary approaches that reduce amyloid-beta and rescue seizure, behavioral, cognitive and biomarker phenotypes.

 

Cara Westmark Profile

Westmark Lab

Jerry C P Yin, Ph.D.

Jerry C P Yin, Ph.D.
Jerry C P Yin, Ph.D.

The goal of my research is to understand nervous system function during complex behavior at the molecular level.

 

 

 

Jerry C P Yin Profile

Dr. Yin’s Genetics Lab

Su-Chun Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.

Su-Chun Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.
Su-Chun Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.

Our lab focuses on how human neuroepithelial cells are specified and subsequently differentiated into neurons and glia.

 

 

Su-Chun Zhang Profile

Dr. Zhang’s Lab

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