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Texas Children's Hospital Comprehensive Epilepsy Center

Dr. Daniel Curry, Director, Pediatric Surgical Epilepsy and Functional Neurosurgery, Associate Professor Pediatric Neurosurgery discusses the comprehensive epilepsy center and the innovative MRI-guided laser ablation surgery taking place at Texas Children's Hospital.

Neurosurgery Research at Texas Children's Hospital

Dr. Andrew Jea, Director of Neurospine Program, Educational Program Director and Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, discusses the exciting research and programs taking place in Neurosurgery at Texas Children's Hospital.

In vivo Analysis of Neural Circuitry in Mouse Models of Rett and Angelman Syndromes

Children with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders (ID/ASDs) suffer from devastating deficiencies in cognitive and social functions. The genetic causes for some of these disorders, such as Rett and Angelman syndromes, have been identified. How the alterations at the level of genes and molecules lead to the functional deficits in neural circuits of the brain, however, is not known. We propose that diverse molecular changes cause these deficits by altering neural network activity and synaptic homeostasis. Using genetically accurate mouse models of Rett and Angelman syndromes, this project aims to characterize the network and synaptic alterations in freely-moving animals and explore a novel treatment, deep-brain stimulation (DBS) to restore neuronal network function.

Hydrocephalus Research Network (HCRN) - Houston Center

HCRN is a collaborative clinical research network in which pediatric neurosurgeons study the variations in treatment of hydrocephalus (a buildup of fluid inside the skull that leads to brain swelling) to determine the best treatments in order to improve outcomes for kids who suffer from hydrocephalus. The Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network is a multi-institution collaborative effort to improve the treatments and outcomes for children suffering from hydrocephalus. Texas Children’s Hospital is part of the network of neurosurgeons comprising of centers at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Sick Kids in Toronto, Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and St. Louis Children’s.

The HCRN pools patient data to find variation in practice and improve treatments for hydrocephalus. The mission of the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network is to improve dramatically the lives of children suffering from hydrocephalus by conducting important and field-changing, multi-center clinical research.

In Vitro Stimulation of Axonal Growth by Carbon Nanomaterials

Spinal cord injuries (SCI) affect approximately 250,000 people in the United States. Fundamental obstacles (physical, chemical and mechanical) exist in the regeneration of axons and their neurons across a SCI site. We, in collaboration with investigators at Rice University, propose that carbon-based nanomaterials such as graphene can facilitate the successful regeneration of both long- and short-distance axons across a SCI site to re-establish severed connections necessary for recovery.

Neurobehavioral Outcome of Head Injury in Children: National Institute of Health NINDS

The goals of the proposed research are to:

  • elucidate impairments of fundamental cognitive processes, including working memory, inhibition, and metacognitive skills in relation to the severity of closed head injury (CHI) defined by the Glasgow Coma Scale, focal brain lesions depicted by MRI, and age at injury;
  • evaluate the impact of deficits in working memory, inhibition, and metacognitive skills on outcome domains, including discourse processing, academic achievement, and adaptive behavior;
  • examine the effects of post-traumatic impairments of inhibition and metacognitive skills, CHI severity, and focal brain lesions on development of new psychiatric disorder, and assess the role of family environment, preinjury psychiatric history, and psychological stress as effect modifiers.

Modulating the Astrocytic Response to Spinal Cord Injury to Facilitate Repair

Spinal cord injury (SCI) results in a devastating loss of many functions, of which motor disability is undoubtedly the more commonly recognized neurological outcome. It is, perhaps, for this reason that motor function is one of the most widely studied areas in SCI research. Injury occurs most commonly in the cervical region of the spinal cord, however, which affects not only upper and lower extremity function, but also impairs one of the more basic functions required for survival: respiration. There is a high incidence of respiratory complications following cervical SCI, which can occur even when assisted ventilation is not required. Furthermore, respiratory dysfunction and associated secondary complications remain the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in people with cervical SCI.

While the prognosis remains poor, there is mounting experimental and clinical evidence for some spontaneous functional recovery – or “plasticity” - over time. The overall objective of this collaborative effort is to test the hypothesis that pharmacological removal of astrocytes at the site of SCI will attenuate the inhibitory properties of the glial scar improving the potential for spontaneous repair, and increasing the therapeutic potential for cell transplantation strategies.