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Laboratory Research

The Neurosurgical Research Labs, under the direction of Dr. J. Marc Simard, have 2 non-clinical departmental faculty members, all of whom have active extramural funding, solely dedicated to this laboratory. Current funding exceeds $1.5 million per year, from numerous grants from the NIH, Department of Defense, Veterans Administration and private foundations. Twelve full-time research associates, assistants or specialists comprise the support for the wide-ranging translational research efforts of the laboratory. At any time, the lab employs a combination of post-docs, neurosurgical residents, medical students and graduate students who have historically been able to make unique contributions that have lead to high-impact publications. This large mix of talented people provides a unique environment in which neurosurgical residents can develop their scientific interests. In past years, neurosurgery residents have been extremely successful in securing NREF funding and other grants, while working with Dr. Simard.

The Neurosurgical Research Laboratories occupy 4,340 square feet in the School of Medicine. This space includes 3250 square feet of laboratory space plus 1100 square feet of adjoining office space and a conference room. The laboratory space is divided into 3 separate wet labs, 1 cell culture room and 1 cold room for molecular and cellular work, 3 rooms that are used for animal surgeries and behavioral testing, and 1 room for patch clamp electrophysiology. The laboratories are internally connected to the primary site, the University Hospital and the academic offices. The laboratories are fully equipped and house state-of-the-art equipment.

Research in the laboratories is directed toward the study of molecular and cellular mechanisms of injury after ischemia or trauma, with a particular focus on ion channels in cerebrovascular smooth muscle cells, endothelium, astrocytes and neurons. The methodologies utilized are comprehensive, including electrophysiological, molecular, and sub-cellular structural investigations.

Recent work of the laboratories has resulted in the discovery of a novel ion channel that appears to be critically involved in ischemia and trauma-induced pathophysiological processes in the CNS. Several patent applications have been granted or filed related to this work, and a company has been formed, funded by a venture capital firm, to advance commercialization of this work. View a recent comprehensive review on the role of the Sur1-NC(Ca-ATP) channel in central nervous system injury.

Each year, residents are encouraged to participate in the work of the Neurosurgical research laboratories, and many do. For residents interested in areas of scientific investigation not directly addressed by laboratory faculty, there are also numerous alternative opportunities on campus in the Neurosciences, as well as at neighboring institutions including the National Institutes of Health and Johns Hopkins University.

Research Support

Surgical Research Support

  • systems for the inhalation or injection of anesthesia
  • Stoelting stereotactic apparatuses
  • telemetry systems for blood pressure
  • flame photometer for tissue ion concentrations
  • immunoflorescence imaging
  • patch clamping equipment

Behavioral Research Support

  • Morris water maze
  • 5-choice serial reaction time task
  • RotaRod
  • Open field maze

Multimedia Research Support

  • computers
  • scanner
  • slide maker
  • printer
  • photography