The Translational Neurotrauma Research Program was established in 2012 under the directorship of Jonathan Lifshitz, PhD, as a partnership between the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the Phoenix VA Healthcare System. Scientists at all levels — including faculty, residents, postdoctoral fellows, medical students, graduate students, undergraduates and high-school students — train and conduct research toward understanding and treating acquired neurological injuries. We share the long-term goal to identify restorative and reparative strategies to improve quality of life for all those whose quality of life is impacted by acquired neurological injury.
Projects are conducted in open-space collaborative laboratories, with access to state-of-the-art molecular, imaging, electrochemical, behavioral and anatomical technology — many unique to the valley. Ongoing projects investigate age, inflammation, rehabilitation, hormone dysregulation, neurotransmitter dysfunction and sleep. We succeed by way of active collaborations within our partner institutions and collaborators at Arizona State University, the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and others across the country and around the world.
Within the Translational Neurotrauma Research Program, research efforts focus on restorative and regenerative treatments for acquired neurological injury, which include diffuse traumatic brain injury, intracerebral hemorrhage and stroke. Specific hypotheses and aims target circuit disruption and neuroinflammation as mechanisms of action responsible for the array of enduring somatic, affective and cognitive symptoms experienced by patients and modeled in rodents. Neural circuits are vulnerable to the mechanical forces and physiological processes of the injury event, where incomplete reconstitution of dismantled circuits is the cellular basis for enduring disease symptoms.
Accumulating evidence from our program and beyond implicates neuroinflammatory processes in the central and peripheral immune systems in the pathology and recovery from injury. Pharmacological, physiological and rehabilitative therapies hold promise to mitigate circuit dismantling and promote adaptive circuit reorganization, thereby improving function and quality of life. Ongoing projects are relevant to children, adolescents, young adults and the aging population, where injuries may arise in the context of organized or recreational sport, warfare or domestic violence.