Laboratory Research

Todd Cohen LabUNC Neurology supports teams of clinicians, scientists, students and collaborators who conduct groundbreaking lab research in their pursuit of more effective treatments of neurological diseases. Much of the department’s research is conducted within the Neurosciences Research Building in 7,000 square feet of wet laboratory space. The adjoining UNC Biomedical Research Imaging Center (BRIC) houses state-of-the-art imaging equipment for human subject and animal research.

The UNC Neuroscience Center brings together researchers from many disciplines to work on fundamental problems in basic and clinical neuroscience. Other academic and industrial institutions in the Research Triangle enhance the diverse scientific environment.

Todd Cohen, PhDResearch Mission: To identify the pathogenic mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disease. Although distinct, many of these diseases share common underlying pathogenic mechanisms.  We seek to uncover the molecular pathways that promote protein aggregation and the formation of amyloid deposits that cause neurodegeneration and cognitive impairments.

Lab Website: http://tcohenlab.web.unc.edu/

Contact Information:
Todd J. Cohen, PhD
Assistant Professor

Address:
6109A Neuroscience Research Building (NRB)
115 Mason Farm Rd
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7250
CB# 7250

Email: toddcohen@neurology.unc.edu

Phone: (919) 966-3759 Office

Gwenn Garden, MD, PhDDr. Garden’s Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research includes studies of the regulation of the inflammatory response in AD, as well as pathogenic molecular cascades contributing to neuronal degeneration in AD. She aims to collaborate with other researchers in order to translate her laboratory findings into the setting of research using human tissues, human stem cells, human serum and CSF samples, and potentially human patients.

Contact Information:
Gwenn A. Garden, MD, PhD
Chair, Department of Neurology
Professor of Neurology

Lab Manager: Matthew Sadgrove

Address:
6105 Neuroscience Research Building (NRB)
115 Mason Farm Rd
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7250
CB# 7250

Email: matthew_sadgrove@med.unc.edu

Phone: (919) 445-2336 Lab

Timothy Gershon, MD, PhDDeveloping new, less toxic approaches to treatment is critical to advancing therapy for medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in children. While many medulloblastoma patients achieve long-term survival through combined radiation and chemotherapy, this treatment causes long-term neuro-cognitive impairment and significant risk of incurable recurrence. The early age of onset of medulloblastoma has prompted a growing consensus to examine the processes that support developmental brain growth as potential oncogenic mechanisms that may be targeted in novel therapies.

Dr. Gershon’s recent work demonstrates that energy metabolism, DNA repair and control of apoptosis are developmentally regulated to support proliferation during cerebellar growth, and become co-opted in medulloblastoma formation.

Lab Website: http://gershonlab.web.unc.edu/

Contact Information:
Tim R. Gershon, MD, PhD
Associate Professor

Address:
6131, 6109E Neuroscience Research Building (NRB)
115 Mason Farm Rd
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7250
CB# 7250

Email: gershont@neurology.unc.edu

Phone:
Office (919) 966-3618
Lab (919) 966-8934

Rick Meeker, PhDDr. Meeker’s research is focused on the mechanisms of HIV neuropathogenesis and the development of therapeutic strategies for the treatment of neuroinflammation. Inflammatory changes within the brain caused by the viral infection initiate a toxic cascade that disrupts normal neural function and can eventually lead to neuronal death. To explore the mechanisms responsible for this damage, we investigate changes in calcium homeostasis, glutamate receptor function and inflammatory responses in primary neuronal, microglial and macrophage cultures. New therapeutic approaches targeted to signal transduction pathways and calcium regulation that protect the neurons and reduce inflammation are under investigation.

Contact Information:
Rick Meeker, PhD
Professor of Neurology

Address:
Neuroscience Research Building (NRB)
115 Mason Farm Rd
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7250
CB# 7250

Email:
meekerr@neurology.unc.edu

Phone: 919-966-5512 (Office)

The Center for Animal MRI (CAMRI) focuses on combining multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with cutting edge neuroscience tools to study neural circuitry and neurovascular coupling in rodent models. Their service core under the UNC Biomedical Research Imaging Center provides a wide variety of small animal MRI services to investigators within and outside UNC.

Lab Website: http://camri.org/

Contact Information:
Yen-Yu Ian Shih, PhD
Associate Professor of Neurology
Director, Center for Animal MRI

Address:
Marsico Hall, B212
125 Mason Farm Rd,
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7250
CB# 7513

Email:
camri@unc.edu

Phone:
Ian Shih’s Office (919) 843-4729
Lab/Core Office (919) 966-9076

Additional Resources


Michael Wang, MDClinical Research

In addition to laboratory research, UNC Neurology supports a robust clinical research program. The Neurosciences Clinical Trials Unit (NCTU) supports over 60 active industry, NIH and investigator-initiated studies at any given time. Current trials include those for epilepsy, memory and cognitive disorders, neurocritical care, neuromuscular disorders, stroke, movement disorders, multiple sclerosis, pediatric neurology and neurosurgical spine.

The NCTU model strengthens research support by providing highly-trained research coordinators who collaborate with investigators and sponsors with the goal of conducting clinical trials efficiently and with the highest standards. The NCTU team provides our experienced investigators with primary coordinators, back-up coordinators, and administrative support to assist with regulatory compliance, budgets and quality oversight. This support expedites study start-up and ensures high-quality clinical trial conduct.

To learn more, please contact:

Susan E. Wilson, DNP, RN, ANP-BC
Associate Professor, Department of Neurology
Director, Neurosciences Clinical Trials Unit

170 Manning Drive
Physicians Office Building, CB# 7025
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7025

Email: WilsonS@neurology.unc.edu