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Lab Research

Our laboratory 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.

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 is 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...

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...

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...

Laurie Sanders, PhD

The Sanders lab studies Parkinson’s disease (PD), the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder. Even with expert treatment, PD patients typically deteriorate over time and endure considerable motor and non-motor disability. There are no disease modifying therapies, thus, this is an urgent unmet medical need. We take a translational approach (i.e. bench-to-bedside), aiming to translate our multidisciplinary basic scientific research into meaningful health outcomes for PD patients. To do so, we combine all levels of analysis, from neurons in a dish to human studies. We have adapted,...

Liedtke Lab

The Liedkte laboratory studies sensory neurobiology of pain with focus on calcium-related signaling mechanisms. To better understand chronic, pathological pain at the organismal level, we use genetic model organisms from invertebrate to rodent. Our approaches include behavioral, structural and molecular studies, advanced imaging, and patch-clamp electrophysiology. The Liedtke-Lab is housed in the Duke University Dept. of Neurology. Dr. Wolfgang Liedtke (PI) is also affiliated with the Depts. of Neurobiology and Anesthesiology. In addition, he was the first hire in the Duke Center for...

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...

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...

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...