Traumatic Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury and Stroke


Injury to the central nervous system — which consists of the brain and spinal cord — often results in far-reaching physical, emotional and economic consequences. Each year in the U.S., approximately 2.8 million Americans experience a traumatic brain injury, 800,000 have a stroke and 17,000 endure a spinal cord injury.

Unfortunately, there are no effective therapies to treat traumatic brain injury, or TBI. While recent therapies that can dissolve blood clots contributing to ischemic stroke show promise, less than four percent of stroke patients are typically treated with this approach. Steroid treatment for spinal cord injury can produce some benefits, but most investigators recognize the need for further advances in therapeutic approaches. Overall, the major causes of CNS injury result from pathological biochemical events that still remain poorly understood.

Research at the MBI

An important component of research at the MBI is to provide an enhanced understanding of these secondary biochemical events to facilitate development of therapies to treat these pathologies. Investigators are also attempting to develop improved biochemically-based diagnostics of acute brain injury. Other research programs are focusing on developing novel therapeutic approaches to enhance recovery from injury to the CNS, and other neurological disorders, using discoveries both basic and clinical, focused on understanding the physiological challenges of maintaining respiratory motor control in both health and disease.

The goal of all of these approaches, and focused programs and working groups in the MBI that exploit our world-renown CNS injury/disease imaging diagnostic facilities and novel neurotherapeutic development cores, is to make major improvements in the quality of life of patients suffering from injuries to the brain and spinal cord.

Center for Respiratory Research and Rehabilitation (CRRR)

Led by director Gordon Mitchell, Ph.D., the CRRR aims to facilitate world class research, both basic and clinical, focused on understanding the physiological challenges of maintaining respiratory motor control in both health and disease. This research can impact a range of disorders, including (but not limited to) spinal cord injury, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease, stroke, muscular dystrophy, chronic cough and TBI. With ventilatory failure being the major cause of death in most traumatic, ischemic and neurodegenerative neuromuscular disorders, the CRRR is poised to make a lasting impact on restoring health in these disease populations.

Trauma, Concussion & Sports Neuromedicine Program (TRACS)

Led by director Michael Jaffee, M.D., TRACS aims to develop a world-class center to facilitate not only the research, but also the education, outreach and treatment of concussion and traumatic brain injury. The program extends beyond the traditional aspects of compartmentalized researchers and clinicians in order to create a synergistic environment in which teams can work together to advance knowledge and care.

UF Health Comprehensive Stroke Center

Led by director Anna Khanna, M.D., the UF Health Comprehensive Stroke Center is certified by The Joint Commission and the American Stroke Association/American Heart Association, due to advanced imaging capabilities, 24/7 availability of specialized treatments and staff with unique education and competency standards. The center also boasts a robust research component, including an array of clinical trials available to patients.

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Lewy Body Dementia Grant winners

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Five investigators earn grants for pilot studies focused on Lewy body dementia.

Dr. Mark Moehle and team Assistant professor of pharmacology UF College of Medicine Project: Impact of aggregated α-synuclein on altering neuronal physiology and plasticity in vivo and ex vivo in relevant animal models of LBD Dr. Bhavana Patel and team Assistant professor of neurology UF College of Medicine Project: Multi-stakeholder engagement for interdisciplinary telehealth in Lewy body dementia Dr. Tracy Tholanikunnel and team Junior movement disorders fellow UF College of Medicine Project: Characterizing cognitive fluctuations in Lewy body dementia to improve care and research Dr. Juan Toledo and team Junior movement disorders fellow UF College of Medicine Project: Association of Lewy body polygenic risk scores with perioperative delirium in older adults Dr. Dan Wesson and team Associate professor of pharmacology UF College of Medicine Project: Mechanisms of cognitive decline in dementia with Lewy body