Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine clinical researchers use cutting edge technologies in clinical research studies. The research areas cover a broad spectrum including; the early identification, treatment, and rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury/concussion and posttraumatic stress.  Among these are advanced neuroimaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), virtual reality therapy, exercise therapy, and new applications for FDA investigational and approved drugs. 

Please watch this video to meet some of our clinical researchers and learn more about their brain injury research.

Featured Researchers

Leighton Chan, M.D., M.P.H., M.S.

Leighton Chan, M.D., M.P.H., M.S.

“The CNRM provides a unique opportunity to help those who have sacrificed so much for our country.”

Dr. Chan is the Chief of Rehabilitation Medicine Department at the Clinical Center at National Institutes of Health (NIH), Co-Director of the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine (CNRM), and the Co-Director of the Rehabilitation and Evaluation Program. He received his B.A. degree from Dartmouth College, with a major in political science. He graduated from the UCLA School of Medicine in 1990. Chan then completed postgraduate training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Washington. During his training he also obtained a Master of Science degree in rehabilitation science. Subsequently, he completed a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar Fellowship, earned a master of public health degree at the University of Washington School of Public Health and was a Congressional Fellow for the representative, Honorable Jim McDermott (D-WA). From 1994 to 2006, Dr. Chan was on the faculty of the University of Washington's Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. He is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and in electrodiagnostic medicine.

Mark Ettenhofer, Ph.D.

Mark Ettenhofer, Ph.D.

“After brain injury, many patients feel that they have to work very hard to do things that once came easily. My research focuses on the development of novel tools such as eye tracking and virtual reality to better understand and treat these cognitive challenges.”

Dr. Ettenhofer is an Assistant Professor of Medical and Clinical Psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). In 2007, he completed his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Michigan State University, where he studied long-term outcomes from mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). Afterward, Dr. Ettenhofer completed a post-doctoral fellowship in neuropsychology at the University of California, Los Angeles and the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. Dr. Ettenhofer has published a number of peer-reviewed manuscripts, and serves as a peer reviewer for leading journals in neuropsychology, neurology, brain imaging, behavioral medicine, and rehabilitation. Additionally, he teaches and mentors graduate students, medical students, fellows, and staff in scientific research and clinical practice.

Dr. Ettenhofer joined the faculty at USUHS in 2009. As Principal Investigator of the Laboratory for Neurocognitive Research, his work focuses upon the development and validation of novel methods for neurocognitive assessment and rehabilitation of TBI. His work has been supported by the Congressionally-Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), the U.S. Army Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) and the CNRM. Currently, Dr. Ettenhofer’s research includes studies examining integrated eye tracking and neuroimaging technology for enhanced assessment of cognitive changes after TBI, and a randomized controlled trial examining rehabilitation of cognitive abilities and driving after TBI with the use of immersive virtual environments.

Louis French, Psy.D.

Louis French, Psy.D.

"The war has brought with it great tragedy. We have a responsibility to make as much as we can out of what has happened. It's been my goal to take one piece of this--traumatic brain injury, and better understand its impact on the individual and figure out how to maximize a person's functioning after they've been injured."

Dr. Louis French is the Chief of TBI, Department of Rehabilitation, WRNMMC. He is also the Acting Director of Research for the DVBIC network and the site director for DVBIC at WRNMMC. He is a lead investigator with the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine (CNRM).

Dr. French received his doctorate in clinical psychology from the George Washington University. He completed fellowships in clinical and experimental neuropsychology at the National Institute of Mental Health and in neuropsychology, focusing on TBI at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) at WRNMMC. Dr. French is the Chief of TBI, Department of Rehabilitation, WRNMMC. He is also the Acting Director of Research for the DVBIC network and the site director for DVBIC at WRNMMC; the largest site in that network.

Dr. French is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the screening, assessment, and rehabilitation of those with TBI at the largest military care facility in the Department of Defense (DoD) network. In his current role, Dr. French has participated in multiple Federal panels and workgroups about TBI in the military, helping to shape current policy on screening and treatment for TBI on the battlefield and at home. These included the Army Surgeon General’s Taskforce on TBI, whose report provided the foundation for the structure of TBI screening and treatment that is currently in place in the DoD. He was one of the authors who reshaped the SAC to construct the Military Acute Concussion Evaluation (MACE), which is the standard for concussion screening in theater. At WRAMC, he participates in a diversified research portfolio. He is principal investigator on eight studies of TBI in returning Service Members. He is a lead investigator with the CNRM. He is also an Assistant Professor of Neurology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

Masahiro Fujita, M.D., Ph.D.

Masahiro Fujita, M.D., Ph.D.

“My research interests focus on imaging novel markers in brain using positron emission tomography to discover the pathology of brain disorders and to develop therapies targeting the novel markers.”

Dr. Masahiro Fujita has been a Staff Scientist at the Molecular Imaging Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health since 2002. Dr. Fujita was formerly an Assistant Professor at Yale University and is a world renowned specialist in brain molecular imaging using positron emission tomography (PET). PET uses a small amount of radioactive chemical compounds that selectively bind to proteins in brain. The radioactive compounds are administered into a vein in the arm, blood flow delivers the compounds into brain, and the compounds bind to proteins in brain. Special PET cameras detect the radioactivity of the compounds to make brain images. By using PET, Dr. Fujita hopes to catch chemical changes in the brain after injury. He expects that the new findings of the study will markedly improve future therapy of brain injury that manipulates the chemical changes to favorable directions. In this study, Dr. Fujita uses a novel radioactive compound for which he played a major role in the development.

Jessica M. Gill, Ph.D., R.N.

Jessica M. Gill, Ph.D., R.N.

The CNRM provides a way to bring together researchers in a collaborative manner to maximize our ability to treat individuals impacted by brain injury. The focus of my research is to use novel biomarkers to identify patients most at risk, and to inform methods to mitigate these risks.

My interest in traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder began early in my career, when working as a nurse with veterans and civilians impacted by trauma. I questioned why some individuals recovered; whereas others went on to develop chronic symptoms and deficits. These observations lead me to pursue a PhD at Johns Hopkins University and then a post-doctoral fellowship at NIH following this. I am currently a Lasker Clinical Research Scholar and primary investigator at NIH, in the National Institute of Nursing Research. My research program is focused on improving our ability to mitigate the impact of brain injury on the lives of many individuals, including military personnel, athletes and patients with mild traumatic brain injury. Specifically my research program examines the mechanisms related to neurological and neurobehavrioral symptoms and deficits following brain injury, including sports concussion, mild and moderate traumatic brain injuries in clinical patients and military personnel with blast related injuries. We focus on biomarkers that relate to the risk for chronic symptoms and include genomic and proteomic methods of investigation. The ultimate goal is to identify pharmacological agents or other interventional methods to mitigate the neurological and  behavioral risks that head injuries pose.

COL Geoffrey G. Grammer, MC, USA, M.D.

COL Geoffrey G. Grammer, MC, USA, M.D.

"Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation allows for safe and non-invasive brain stimulation that takes place in an outpatient doctors office. Through CNRM we hope to use this technology to find new ways to alleviate symptoms associated with PTSD and TBI."

Colonel Geoffrey Grammer completed his Bachelor of Science in Biology at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute before beginning his training in medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) in Bethesda, Maryland, graduating in 1996. Subsequently, he completed residency in Internal Medicine and General Psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, followed by a fellowship in Geriatric Psychiatry.

COL Grammer currently holds board certification in Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry, and Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry. He is also currently an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at his alma mater, USUHS.

COL Grammer has completed two deployments to Iraq, serving as the Medical Director for the 785th Combat Stress Control Company on his first deployment and as a Psychiatrist at the Combat Support Hospital at COB Speicher on his second. He has also deployed to Afghanistan as a Psychiatrist at the Combat Support Hospital in Bagram.

He served as the Chief of Inpatient Psychiatric Services at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which covers the 28 bed General Psychiatry and 6 bed Neuropsychiatry wards for eight years. In August of 2013, he assumed a position at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) as the Department Chief of Research.

COL Grammer’s military awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal (3rd Award), Army Achievement Medal (3rd Award), Iraq Campaign Medal (3 Stars), Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NATO ISAF Medal, National Defense Service Medal (2nd Award), Army Service Ribbon, Army Superior Unit Award and Overseas Service Ribbon (3rd Award).

Lawrence L. Latour, Ph.D.

Lawrence L. Latour, Ph.D.

"My research interests focus on the use of MRI to better identify, classify, and treat acute stroke and brain injury."

Dr. Latour is a Staff Scientist at National Institute of Health's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the Principal Investigator of the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine (CNRM) Acute Studies Program. He received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After receiving the US DOE Alexander Hollander Distinguished Post-doctoral Fellowship at Brookhaven National Laboratory, he became Director of Applied Science at Medical Advances with an appointment in Medical Physics at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Latour was recruited to NINDS- DIR as a Staff Scientist in 2000 to help build the Section on Stroke Diagnostics and Therapeutics. The Section conducts clinical research at the Stroke Centers of Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland and Washington Hospital Center in the District of Columbia, where the NINDS has placed stroke teams and MRI research facilities. Over the past three years, Dr. Latour has assembled a team to study civilians with acute head injury as part of the DOD funded CNRM and is currently the Director of the Acute Studies Core. His research interests focus on the use of MRI to better identify, classify, and treat acute stroke and brain injury.

Paul F. Pasquina, COL (Ret), M.D.

Paul F. Pasquina, COL (Ret), M.D.

Dr. Paul Pasquina is the inaugural Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R;) at USUHS and the Director of the PM&R; Residency Training Program at WRNMMC. He is board certified in PM&R;, Electrodiagnostic Medicine, and Pain Medicine. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and USUHS. He completed a fellowship in primary care sports medicine from USUHS and Georgetown University. His current research efforts are focused on exploring new technologies to enhance the recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration of combat casualties, particularly those with traumatic brain injury and extremity trauma. This work is primarily focuses through his work as the Director of the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences Research (www.CRSR.org). Prior to his retirement from active military service, he served as the Chief of the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the National Naval Medical Center and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He also served as the PM&R; specialty consultant to the Army Surgeon General; Senior Officer in Charge of the Ortiz Level II Military Treatment Facility, International Zone, Baghdad, Iraq; and a Secretarial appointee for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Advisory Committee on Prosthetics and Special Disabilities Programs. He continues to serve as a consultant to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), U.S. Army’s Medical Research and Material Command (MRMC), Food & Drug Agency (FDA), and University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences as a member of their Board of Visitors. Dr. Pasquina has received multiple military awards, as well as awards for teaching and mentorship, including the U.S. Army’s “A” Proficiency Designation for academic excellence, the Order of Military Medical Merit, the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, da Vinci Lifetime Achievement Award, Partners in Progress Heroes of Military Medicine Award, Lewis Aspey Mologne Award, Alfred Mann Foundation Scientist of Year Award, Distinguished Clinician Award from the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and Honorary Fellow of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA). He has authored multiple book chapters, journal articles and policy papers. His work as the co-editor of the Textbook of Military Medicine: Care of the Combat Amputee, was recognized with the First Place award for Technical Text from the Washington Book Publishers Association in 2010. Dr. Pasquina continues to serve on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Rehabilitation Research 

Michael J. Roy, M.D., M.P.H.

Michael J. Roy, M.D., M.P.H.

"I really enjoy applying innovative techniques and technologies to improve the care we provide to service members, such as using virtual reality and smart phone applications to improve the treatment of PTSD."

Dr. Roy is Professor of Medicine and Director of the Division of Military Internal Medicine at Uniformed Services University (USUHS) and Principal Investigator of Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine (CNRM) Recruitment Core. He is a graduate of Brown University and Brown University School of Medicine, completed medicine residency and a general medicine fellowship at WRNMMC, and retired as a colonel after 24 years in the Army. Dr. Roy is the principal investigator on multiple studies on war-related health, often using cutting edge technologies such as fMRI and virtual reality.

Dr. Roy was the first to document significant improvement in brain function after exposure therapy for posttraumatic stress (PTS), using fMRI to show that all key areas of the brain were better after treatment. He also has identified imaging findings and genetic markers that might help to predict who is at high risk for having difficulties after deployment. His current studies include one using smart phone-based applications to decrease symptoms after deployment, terrorism, and natural disasters, and others comparing virtual reality and imaginal exposure therapy for PTSD, as well as whether the antibiotic d-cycloserine can add value to either of these treatments.

Eric Wasserman, M.D.

Eric Wasserman, M.D.

"The world is full of statistically significant effects; our goal is to find things that actually work for people and can be put into practice with a minimum of expense and regulation, and to do good science along the way.”

Dr. Wassermann is a Staff Clinician at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Co-Director of Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine Neuroplasticity Program. Dr. Wasserman received his B.A. from Swarthmore College, his M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania where he studied behavioral neurophysiology with C.R. Gallistel, and his M.D. from New York Medical College. He is a clinical neurologist with specialty training and extensive experience in neurobehavioral disorders. He currently heads the NINDS Behavioral Neurology Unit. He began his clinical research career at the NINDS Human Motor Control Section, studying the physiology of the human motor system with an emphasis on recovery of function after brain damage. His current interest is in investigating the mechanisms of learning and in order to find ways of accelerating the process in healthy people and patients undergoing rehabilitation. Approaches currently under study in his laboratory include adding extrinsic reward to procedural learning tasks and using short bursts of intense exercise to enhance memory consolidation. His group also conducts more descriptive clinical studies of military TBI and other populations with disorders of cognition and reward system function. In addition to behavioral outcomes, his laboratory uses functional MRI and transcranial brain stimulation techniques to investigate brain mechanisms.

Ben Xu, Ph.D.

Ben Xu, Ph.D.

"It is the goal of my work to be able to contribute to the decoding of human brain functions and ways of improving or repairing them."

Dr. Xu received a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. He came to National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a post-doctoral fellow in 1998 and currently serves as a Staff Scientist working with Dr. Leonardo G. Cohen at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). His research involves studies of cognitive and motor control functions in healthy volunteers and patients with brain injuries such as stroke and mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI). His current focus is on neural mechanisms underlying rapid response inhibition and the impact of mild and moderate TBI on changes in neural connectivity and functions associated with rapid response inhibition. He has also conducted studies on neural mechanisms of high-level cognitive functions such as language processing and its relation to memory. His research methods include applications of behavioral, neuroimaging (e.g., fMRI and DTI), and non-invasive brain stimulation (e.g., TMS] and tDCS) techniques. Dr. Xu has received “The Director’s Merit Award for Significant Achievement” from the National Institute of Mental Health, is an elected council member of the NIH Assembly of Scientists, and serves as an Academic Editor of the journal PLOS ONE.

Current Studies

Read more about current clinical research studies

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