Research Labs & Clinical Trials

The Neurological Institute is recognized as a research leader, with teams involved in developing new treatments, therapies, drugs, and clinical trials for stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, brain and spinal tumors, aneurysms, disc disease and other disorders. Below, you will find a list of all of our research groups and laboratories, along with the faculty who lead them.

CENTER FOR NEUROREGENERATION

The Center for Neuroregeneration is comprised of laboratories with expertise in neural stem cell biology, neural activity and stimulation, robotics, cell growth, myelin and the genetic regulation of plasticity: 

  • ASTROCELLULAR THERAPEUTICS LAB
    The Astrocellular Therapeutics Lab is specifically focused on understanding the functional relationship of human neurons and astrocytes in normal and injured states. We employ novel three-dimensional human pluripotent stem cell-based culture techniques, optogenetic methods, electrophysiology, transplantations and molecular/biochemical approaches to answer vital questions and accelerate progress in neuroregeneration including cellular engraftment therapy and drug discovery. 
     Principal Investigator: Robert C. Krencik, PhD

  • CEREBROVASCULAR RESEARCH LAB
    The Cerebrovascular Research Laboratory studies brain microcirculation in normal and pathological conditions. The brain is critically dependent on a continuous and adequate blood supply for normal functioning, so such catastrophic events like stroke or subarachnoid hemorrhage not only damage the brain, but they lead to abnormalities of cerebrovascular circulation which may aggravate the consequences of the perpetrating event. 
    Principal Investigator: Gavin W. Britz, MBBCh, MPH, MBA, FAANS

  • GLIOBLASTOMA RESEARCH LAB
    The Glioblastoma Research Lab is involved in diverse projects that address basic and translational biology of brain cancers, with a primary focus on glioblastoma (GBM). Our basic science interests revolve around the role of the Twist1 transcription factor as a regulator of epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) in GBM. In keeping with its role in metastatic EMT in carcinomas Twist1 promotes invasive and stem cell phenotypes in GBM. These hallmark properties are central to GBM malignancy and treatment resistance. Therefore we are unraveling the basic mechanisms Twist1 function in hopes of identifying novel approaches to target Twist1 function and EMT in GBM. 
    Principal Investigator: Robert Rostomily, MD

  • NEUROPLASTICITY & REPAIR LAB
    The mission of the Neuroplasticity & Repair Lab is to generate therapies for people who suffer from chronic paralysis and neurologic loss due to devastating injury, stroke or degenerative disease. The lab specializes in neural stem cell biology, neural activity and stimulation, robotics, cell growth, myelin and the genetic regulation of plasticity. Signature projects include a focus on restoration of locomotor and sensory function through neural stimulation and promotion of innate regenerative capacity through cell and gene therapy. 
    Principal Investigator: Philip J Horner, PhD

  • BRAIN-MACHINE INTERFACE LAB
    The Brain-Machine Interface Lab headed by Dr. Jose Contreras-Vidal focuses on neural, cognitive and rehabilitation engineering, and development of noninvasive brain-machine interface (BMI) and wearable robotics to restore, augment or assist whole body movement. His laboratory has pioneered the development of noninvasive BMI systems based on scalp EEG and closed-loop BMIs to robotic exoskeletons and prosthetic limbs to restore motor function in individuals with spinal cord injury, stroke and limb amputation.
    Principal Investigator: Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal, PhD

 

NEUROIMAGING LAB
 Using the tools of human neuroimaging, including MRI, PET and EEG, the Neuroimaging Lab aims to clarify the neurobiology and improve the treatment of the following disorders causing cognitive impairment: Alzheimer, frontotemporal dementia, genetic underpinning of regional involvement patterns, neuroimaging correlates of social cognition, TBI, amyloid and tau imaging in acute and chronic concussion, timing and brain localization of tau deposition in patients with repeated head trauma, schizophrenia.

Principal Investigator: Joseph C. Masdeu, MD, PhD 


NEUROMODULATION LAB
Ongoing studies in our lab at present employ electrophysiological and neuroimaging approaches to measure neuromodulatory effects of TRPMS on cortical excitability and functional connectivity, and use this tool to study the neural mechanisms underlying perception and cognition.

Principal Investigators: Santosh Helekar, MD, PhD and David B. Rosenfield, MD


PEGGY AND GARY EDWARDS ALS LAB 
Research in the Peggy and Gary Edwards ALS Laboratory focuses on developing new insights into degenerative neurologic diseases, with a primary emphasis on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). More specifically, the importance of immune/inflammatory alterations, as well as increased intracellular calcium and free-radical stress in ALS, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Principal Investigator: Stanley H. Appel, MD


PEAK BRAIN AND PITUITARY TUMOR LAB

The long-term goals of Dr. Baskin’s laboratory are to elucidate the DNA mechanisms in various types of neurological disease and to develop novel diagnostics and treatments for primary brain tumors and autistic spectrum disorder. Dr. Baskin has recently developed methodologies to quantify the levels of different types of DNA damage and of labeled antibody staining in the field of fluorescence microscopy, using a new type of labeled tissue phantoms. 

Principal Investigator: David S. Baskin, MD, FAANS, FACS

 

  • BRAIN CANCER RESEARCH LAB
    Our laboratory’s main focus is to understand the mechanisms that regulate self-renewal, transformation, and therapy resistance in brain cancer stem cells from glioblastoma and medulloblastoma. We are interested in the roles of developmental signaling pathways ( Notch, SHH, Wnt, and the Hippo pathways) and novel regulators of glioma stem cells we identified.
    Principal Investigator: Kyuson Yun, PhD


THE HOUSTON INSTITUTE FOR NEUROPSYCHOLOGYCAL KNOWLEDGE (THINK) LAB 

The Houston Institute for Neuropsychological Knowledge (THINK) laboratory, studies the neurobiological basis of human behavior using neuropsychological, neuroimaging e.g., functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), neurophysiological, and sensory psychophysical methods to better understand the impact of disease on the brain. 

Principal Investigator: Mario F. Dulay Jr., PhD

 

CLINICAL TRIALS: NERVOUS SYSTEM DISEASES