Meet Our Researchers

The American Brain Foundation supports world class research on cutting edge projects. Funding research across a broad spectrum of the brain and nervous system is the best hope for curing brain disease as a whole.

Manav Vyas, MD

There are over 300 million immigrants and refugees in the world today, many millions of whom live in the United States and Canada. Dr. Manav Vyas, of the University of Toronto, and a team of researchers want to find out how immigration status affects care and outcomes after stroke, a leading cause of death and disability around the world.

A. Gordon Smith, MD

More than 40,000 women will die of breast cancer this year. Many of the most effective chemotherapy drugs for treating breast cancer cause serious side effects, including peripheral neuropathy, which causes numbness, pain and difficulty walking. Neuropathy is one of the most common reasons for stopping chemotherapy, potentially reducing the success of treatment. Neuropathy often drastically reduces quality of life. Drs Gordon Smith, Kelsey Juster-Switlyk and Summer Karafiath of the University of Utah plan to find out what causes neuropathy, so that we can prevent it and get patients the treatment they need and improve their quality of life.

James Noble, MD

Sports-related concussions are often missed or disregarded in young athletes. Competitive pressures may drive children to continue playing after having a concussion. Delayed recognition can cause serious neurological problems including chronic headaches, memory lapses, learning difficulties, and even permanent disability if two or more concussions occur in close succession. Dr. James Noble, of Columbia University, plans to create an interactive educational activity to improve concussion awareness and reduce long-term brain damage in young athletes.

J. Kent Werner, MD

Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders including Frontotemporal dementia (FTD), Dementia with Lewy bodies(DLB), Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) are some of the most devastating afflictions faced by individuals, their families, and our society. There is no cure available for these neurodegenerative conditions. Dr. Werner and his team at Cogentis Therapeutics are developing groundbreaking therapies to reverse these disorders in collaboration with the NIH, Harvard Medical School, MIT, and Johns Hopkins University.

Charlene Ong, MD

Brain swelling is a potentially lethal complication of acute brain injuries. Current methods of detecting brain swelling are invasive, or may identify its progression too late to reverse further damage. Dr. Charlene Ong of Harvard University will test whether an innovative handheld technology that measures pupil changes can improve the diagnosis and treatment of brain swelling. Her findings could save lives and improve quality of life for those who suffer from sudden and catastrophic brain injuries.

Ania Busza, MD, PhD

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States, often leaving victims unable to speak, climb the stairs, or go to work. Rehabilitation can help these victims get back to their normal lives, but many patients become discouraged and fail to get the most out of their treatment. Dr. Ania Busza, of the University of Rochester, hopes to improve stroke rehabilitation by using a high-tech virtual reality device to engage stroke victims during rehab sessions and motivate them to continue their treatment.

Adam Mecca, MD, PhD

Alzheimer’s disease is the number one cause of dementia worldwide, and currently no treatments can stop it. In Alzheimer’s disease, memory defects are caused by the loss of connections between brain cells. Dr. Adam Mecca, of Yale University, plans to use a high-tech imaging system to find out when this disconnection happens, which may help improve the use of current treatments and aid the discovery of new drugs to fight Alzheimer’s disease.

Aaron Boes, MD

As if having brain cancer isn’t devastating enough for a child and his family, about one in four children with brain cancer of the cerebellum also develop a condition known as posterior fossa syndrome. This syndrome involves problems with speech and movement, similar to the symptoms a stroke victim might experience. The cause of posterior fossa syndrome, however, is unknown. Working alongside doctors at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Aaron Boes plans to study why these problems occur, so that children already suffering from brain cancer, may not also have to deal with these complications.

Kevin Sheth, MD, FAHA, FCCM, FNCS, FAAN, FANA

Project goal: Use methods to detect early brain swelling of patients with devastating brain injury, and test new drugs to prevent further swelling.

Holly Hinson, MD

Project goal: Develop a scale to describe or quantify the severity of a syndrome some patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) develop called “Paroxysmal Sympathetic Hyperactivity” (PSH).

Ana-Claire Meyer, MD

Project goal: Expand access to and improve the quality of neurological care both domestically to underserved populations and globally to underserved regions.

Paul George, MD, PhD

Project goal: Develop treatments to restore lost brain function after stroke.

An Hong Do, MD

Project goal: Discover a new therapy approach that can provide stroke survivors with improvements exceeding those of typical rehabilitation therapies.

Jeffrey Gelfand, MD, MAS

Project goal: Improve care for patients with neurosarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease involving the nervous system, by identifying less invasive ways to diagnose the disease, optimizing neuroimaging (MRI) to detect the characteristic pattern of inflammation that marks sarcoidosis and discover better treatments.

Stefanie Geisler, MD

Project goal: In hopes of finding ways to keep peripheral nerve fibers alive during chemotherapy treatments, the research investigated whether nerve fibers can be protected by removing or interfering with a certain protein associated with nerve fiber death.

Vikram Khurana, MD, PhD

Project goal: Identify abnormalities of cells from patients with Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases in hopes of developing a personalized neurology approach to these disorders.

Ricardo Roda, MD, PhD

Project goal: Identify new antibodies in myasthenia gravis and how they cause disease.

Nada Hindiyeh, MD

Project goal: Develop a screening tool for the diagnosis of chronic migraine.

Lidia Maria Moura, MD

Project goal: Study the impact of how physicians deliver care to patients with epilepsy and to redesign care delivery so that the individual goals and needs of the patient drive positive outcomes and define quality rather than traditional process measures.

Elissaios Karageorgiou, MD

Project goal: Use magnetoencephalography to identify biomarkers in the brain to help accurately diagnose Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD).

Suzanne Goh, MD

Project goal: Use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify features of the brain, such as neural signatures or biomarkers, to help diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

Padmaja Vittal, MD, MS

Project goal: The goal of this research is to evaluate different genetic patterns in patients with Fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS).

Randall Bateman, MD

Project goal: Investigate different biomarkers, or laboratory tests, to determine ways to predict who will be affected by Alzheimer’s disease before they have symptoms of it.

Hristelina Ilieva, MD, PhD

Project goal: Determine how different glial cells and neurons are affected in the most common subtype of familial ALS – the C9ORF72 linked ALS.

Jonathan Lipton, MD, PhD

Project goal: To understand the biological basis for sleep disturbance in patients with neurodevelopmental diseases such as autism.

Salim Chahin, MD

Project goal: Discover new methods to measure and investigate the cause of fatigue, a common and disabling symptom in multiple sclerosis (MS).

Jörg Dietrich, MD, PhD

Project goal: Find possible ways to repair structural and functional damage to the brain caused by chemotherapy and radiation.