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Lab and Translational Research

Our laboratory and translational research examines our understanding of the health of the brain and nervous system, from the cellular to the systematic level. This research is fundamental toward learning more about neurological conditions and ultimately, providing better treatments.

The Duke Department of Neurology conducts this basic research on many disorders including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's diseases, as well as investigations into brain injury translational research, neuroinflammation, animal modeling, synaptic plasticity, and trigeminal pain.

The Neurology Department is committed to conducting research in an ethical manner that is free from bias or manipulation. The Department's Kirby Gottschalk, PhD, is leading an effort to ensure that our research meets proper procedures. Read his full report here.

Brad Kolls, MD, PhD

As a neurointensivist, I am interested in improving our ability to monitor brain function and the impact of therapy on our patients in the critical care setting. To this end I am conducting clinical research focused on developing new approaches to patient monitoring that will integrate patient physiologic monitoring with brain activity recorded by electroencephalography (EEG). In the basic science lab I am interested in the central nervous system's response to injury. I am part of the Brain Injury Translational Research Center, and although much attention has been focused on closed head...

Calakos Lab

We all know that as part of our daily lives we are constantly interacting with our environment - learning, adapting, establishing new memories and habits, and for better or for worse, forgetting as well. At the cellular level, these processes can be encoded by changes in the strength of synaptic transmission between neurons. The process by which neuronal connections change in response to experience is known as “synaptic plasticity” and this process is a major interest of our laboratory. Our goals are to understand the molecular mechanisms for synaptic plasticity and identify when these...

Carlene Moore, PhD

My lab studies the sensory neurobiology of pain with a focus on calcium-mediated signaling. Transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channels have been implicated in the pathophysiology of migraine, a neurological disorder with incapacitating episodic headaches. Ca2+-permeable TRP ion channels have been shown to function in many diverse physiological processes including inflammation and pain. TRP ion channels are expressed and function in trigeminal (TG) sensory neurons, in keratinocytes (KCs) and in mast cells. My research agenda include how TRP ion channels in skin keratinocytes and mast...

Carol Colton, PhD

The Colton lab has focused on inflammation in the brain, a core response of the immune system, for more than 25 years. Inflammation is the body's major defense mechanism against injury and "invaders" such as bacteria or virus. Our lab studies the innate immune response in the brain and its role in neurodegeneration. The innate immune response has been viewed as the first line of tissue defense and uses highly pleiotropic cells of hematogenous origin known as macrophages. In the brain, resident macrophages are termed microglia. These cells detect disease-related signals, migrate to injury...

Chiba-Falek Lab

Genetics plays an incredibly complex role in how neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases appear and develop. Even small changes in the DNA sequence and structure can directly alter the protein product of a gene, or change how, when, and/or where a gene or a group of genes are expressed; these effects determine whether a disease will occur, when it happens, and the extent of its symptoms. Our research attempts to better understand the genetic processes underpinning age-related neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Alzheimer’s disease, related dementia, and Lewy...

Daniel Laskowitz, MD, MHS

The laboratory of Daniel Laskowitz, MD, MHS , and its associated Brain Injury Translational Research group is committed to developing new therapies that address unmet clinical need in acute brain injuries (such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, and intracranial hemorrhage) as well as chronic neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The motivation for this research efforts stems from my more than 25 years of personal experience caring for patients with stroke, trauma, intracranial hemorrhage, and neurological disease. Daniel Laskowitz, MD, MHS, and members of...

Haichen Wang, MD

My scientific interests have been focused on developing a number of microsurgical techniques in our animal modeling lab, including clinically relevant models of subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracranial hemorrhage, traumatic brain injury, blast brain injury, middle cerebral artery occlusion, transient forebrain occlusion, spinal cord injury and genetic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. By incorporating with molecular biology and cell culture techniques we examine the CNS response to acute injury. In particular, our laboratory examines the role of microglial activation and the endogenous CNS...

Laurie Sanders, PhD

Laurie Sanders, PhD, is the receipient of the the Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society's (EMGS) 2020 Young Scientist Awards. These awards go to promising young scientists who are finishing their education and training or within three years of establishing an independent scientific career. Her research pursues the novel hypothesis that defective maintenance of genome integrity is an upstream mechanism contributing to the progressive neurodegeneration that occurs in Parkinson's disease. Dr. Sanders will be giving a plenary lecture presentation at the EMGS annual meeting on Tuesday,...

Noreen Bukhari-Parlakturk, MD, PhD

The Bukhari lab studies the brain circuitry and physiology of a rare brain disorder called dystonia. Dystonia is an involuntary movement disorder manifested by abnormal body postures that lead to permanent disability. There is currently no disease-modifying therapy, a major unmet clinical need. We would like to thank dystonia patients and healthy volunteers who have participated in our research studies. Your time and dedication are the hope and key to our success. If you would like to learn more about our work, please email us at movdisres@duke.edu . The Bukhari lab maintains a culture of...

Simon Davis, PhD

Our lab focuses on three kinds of research: memory studies, white matter in the brain, and brain stimulation. Our first research focus examines our ability to form abstract representations of objects in semantic memory is crucial to language and thought. However, it's unclear how semantic memory influences and is influenced by the organization of complex representational structures. We have shown how feature similarity across a wide set of items predicts distinct forms of episodic memory performance. Second, the integrity of cerebral white matter is critical for efficient cognitive...

Simon Gregory, PhD

Dr. Gregory's research applies his experience leading the mapping of the mouse genome and the sequencing of human chromosome 1 for the Human Genome Project to elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying multi-factorial diseases. His primary area of research involves identifying the complex genetic factors that give rise to the development of multiple sclerosis and other complex diseases. Dr. Gregory’s MS laboratories at Duke University and the David H Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI) are using cell signaling and immune cell flow sorting to establish the role of IL7R signaling in the...

Yong Chen, PhD

The Chen lab mainly studies sensory neurobiology of pain and itch, with a focus on TRP ion channels and neural circuits. The main objective of our lab is to identify molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying chronic pain and chronic-disease associated itch, using a combination of animal behavioral, genetic, molecular and cellular, advanced imaging, viral, and optogenetic approaches. There are three main research areas in the lab: Craniofacial pain, arthritis pain and joint function, and systemic-disease associated itch. Craniofacial pain Temporomandibular disorders (TMJD) include a group...