Traumatic Brain Injury is a neurological disorder that affects more than a million Americans. Despite numerous research efforts related to brain injury, TBI is still one of the most challenging issues in healthcare. Significant knowledge gaps exist in the associated injury mechanisms and the repair process in the brain. Leveraging UVA's renowned programs in neuroimmunology, neuroimaging, biomechanics and sports concussion, researchers at the University of Virginia are leading cutting-edge efforts to understand traumatic brain injuries and offer effective treatment options.
The UVA Brain Institute helps foster a multidisciplinary approach to TBI research by linking mechanisms to outcomes between researchers and centers across the University.
UVA TBI in the News:
In a comprehensive literature review published in the October issue of the journal Clinics in Sports Medicine, Curry School of Education professor Jacob Resch and his co-authors report that female athletes have an increased risk for sport concussion, and tend to report more severe symptoms compared to male athletes.
About our TBI team:
The Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG) is currently one of the only institutions with a research center and training program dedicated to neuro-immunology which unites investigators in neuroscience, immunology, and clinical neurology. Researchers at the University of Virginia made the stunning discovery that the brain is linked to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist and also discovered a rare and powerful immune cell, type 2 innate lymphocytes, in the meninges around the brain.
The Center for Applied Biomechanics is the largest university-based injury biomechanics laboratory in the world. The 30,000 ft2 facility includes dedicated experimental test spaces, a computational work group, a centralized data acquisition facility, machine and electronics shops, expansive freezer storage facilities for biological tissue, and a biological specimen preparation room. It is recognized as one of the world’s leading research groups in the field, using state of the art equipment to analyze the intricacies of how the human body responds to injury.
The Molecular Imaging Core located in the Department of Radiology and Molecular Imaging specializes in advanced neuroimaging research and features a dedicated Siemens Biograph 40 TruePoint PET/CT (mCT). Radiopharmaceuticals are synthesized in the 1000 ft2 cGMP-grade clean radiochemistry laboratory including 6 minicells for the production of PET labeled imaging substrates. Small animal imaging with SPECT, microPET, CT, MRI, bioluminescene, fluoroscence scans is also available through the core.
The Exercise and Sport Injury Laboratory (E&SIL) in the Department of Kinesiology at the Curry School of Education conducts pre and post-concussion assessment on all UVA athletes.
The Neurocognitive Assessment Lab is a neuroschyology clinic with 30 years of experience in sports concussion and clincial neuro-psychologists, experienced psychometrists and a full array of over 200 neuropsychological tests.
The Acute Concussion Evaluation Clinic provides education and treatment recommendations for concussion patients.
The Emergency Department has conducted numerous TBI studies and is staffed with 5 full-time research coordinators providing 24x7 coverage.
Donna Broshek, PhD, is a Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences and has worked as a scientist-practitioner neuropsychologist since 1998. She has clinical and research experience in concussion and TBI and serves as the Director of the Neurocognitive Assessment Lab and Co- Director of the Brain Injury and Sports Concussion Institute and the multi-disciplinary Acute Concussion Evaluation Clinic at UVA. She provides consultation to local school systems on management of sports concussion and concussion policies. She is a member of the National Basketball Association’s Concussion Committee and President of the Sports Neuropsychology Society. She was an invited member of a work group on clinical recovery predictors at the International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Berlin in 2016.
T. Jason Druzgal, MD, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Radiology and Medical Imaging, is a cognitive neuroscientist and a clinical neuroradiologist with research expertise in the use of advanced MRI techniques to study the human brain. His laboratory uses multimodal human brain MRI to understand the neuropathology underlying a range of neurodegenerative conditions, including mTBI, movement disorders and human aging. Dr. Druzgal uses multimodal brain MRI and head accelerometers to study the longitudinal effects of subconcussion in
collegiate athletes and has enrolled over 100 collegiate football, soccer, and lacrosse players in his MRI studies of mTBI.
Joshua Easter, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine dedicated to improving the outcomes of head injury patients through optimization of their evaluation and management in the ED. He completed a clinical research fellowship at NIH and a master of clinical sciences through a K award from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. His prior work has focused on clinical prediction models and imaging in patients with mTBI which has demonstrated that prediction models can identify patients at risk for intracranial hemorrhage.
Howard Goodkin, MD, PhD, is a Professor of Neurology with a long-standing interest in traumatic brain injury dating back to his senior research design project at the University of Pennsylvania in which he developed a synthetic model of the human brain for the study of rotational, non-impact forces on the brain. At UVA, he helped found the Brain Injury and Sports Concussion Clinic and has worked at the state and local level in implementing the Commonwealth’s return to learn and play laws. He is a recognized national leader in the care of concussion having presented at the NIH-sponsored 2016 Pediatric Concussion Workshop and has co-authored multiple articles on concussion.
Bijoy Kundu, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Radiology & Medical Imaging and Biomedical Engineering whose research has focused on developing and optimizing novel quantitative PET imaging techniques in small animal hearts in vivo. Dr. Kundu has a track record of securing NIH grant funding, developing novel molecular and metabolic imaging techniques, and performing high-impact research using PET in rodents that are translating to human applications.
Kathryn Laughon, PhD, RN, FAAN, is and Associate Professor of Nursing and Director of the PhD Program.Dr. Laughon's work focuses on issues related to intimate partner violence and its impact on women and children. Dr. Laughon conducts evidence collection and provides care to victims of sexual assault, teaches in the Department of Family, Community & Mental Health Systems, and is currently researching a novel dye that better highlights sexual assault injuries in women of color. She is also PI on a National Institute of Mental Health-funded study to test an intervention for guardians of children orphaned by intimate partner homicide.
John Lukens, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Neurosciences and a member of the Center for Brain Inflammation and Glia (BIG). Dr. Lukens investigates how dysregulated immune responses and defective CNS lymphatic drainage contribute to TBI-associated disease. His lab is actively testing immune-based strategies to identify inflammatory pathways and improve post-concussion recovery time and to treat TBI associated comorbidities. Preliminary studies have identified that hyperinflammatory IL-1 signaling and brain lymphatic deficits are central instigators of concussion-related disease. He will oversee assessment of immune parameters from sports concussion subjects, will adapt a mTBI mouse model using head injury biomechanics data and will utilize genetic knockout and neutralizing antibody approaches to interrogate the mechanistic role that immune pathways play in concussion-related disease.
Kiel Neumann, PhD, is an Assistant Professor and the Director of Radiochemistry at UVA. His expertise and research interests are in the synthesis of PET radiopharmaceuticals and their evaluation in preclinical models, as well as traumatic brain injury (TBI) in both cortical-impact rodent models and clinical studies of mild TBI.
Matthew Panzer, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia, and a Principal Investigator at the Center for Applied Biomechanics. His research focus is on the biomechanics of traumatic brain injury, which involves the combination of experimental and computational methods using human and animal surrogates. Dr. Panzer investigates the injury mechanisms and criteria for mild to severe traumatic brain injury in sports, automotive, and military impacts, and develops methods for scaling the results of pre-clinical animal models to humans.
Jacob E. Resch, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the Curry School of Education. He conducts research on clinical measures of sport concussion in young and adult athletes. He oversees the UVA student-athlete concussion management program. Provided his expertise on the diagnosis and management of sport concussion in student athletes, his current research with collegiate student-athletes and extensive record of collaboration with several of the proposed co-investigators, he will meaningfully contribute to the paradigm-shifting study.
James Stone, MD, PhD, is an Associate Professor with over 20 years of experience in traumatic brain injury research. In that time, he has explored basic mechanisms of axonal degeneration in models of conventional and blast-induced TBI, has examined neuroimaging sequelae of chronic low level blast exposure in military personnel, and has worked to innovate novel approaches for the acquisition and analysis of advanced neuroimaging for the diagnosis of TBI. Over his career, he has worked with a variety of preclinical models for TBI. Additionally, for the past 7 years he has been involved with multiple studies exploring novel positron emission tomography (PET) approaches for the diagnosis of TBI.
Nick Tustison, DSc, is an Assistant Professor of Radiology and Medical Imaging. He is a principal developer of the Advanced Normalization Tools (ANTs) for medical image analysis in the field of neuroimaging. These tools include spatial normalization of imaging data using biological modeling which have demonstrated utility in determining potential biomarkers in the study of brain development and pathologies.
Xin-Qun Wang, M.S, is a senior biostatistician at the University of Virginia with over 20-years of research experience in collaborating with basic science, biomedical, clinical and translational researchers, primarily in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurology and addiction.
Daniel Weller, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research focuses on novel signal processing methods, algorithms, and implementations applied to image reconstruction and related processing tasks. Using parametric and nonparametric signal models, his research considers specific algorithms and implementations used to solve inverse problems featuring such models.