Function and Disorders of the Nervous System Research

Zoe Arvanitakis, MD

Zoe Arvanitakis, MD, studies links among neurodegenerative disease, cognitive aging and vascular disease in humans.

Roumen Balabanov, MD

Roumen Balabanov, MD, examines sutoimmune disorders, multiple sclerosis in humans and animal models.

Elizabeth Berry-Kravis, MD, PhD

Elizabeth Berry-Kravis, MD, PhD, studies fragile X syndrome and other neurogenetic and genetic neurodevelopmental diseases in humans and animal models.

Stephanie Crowley McWilliam, PhD

Stephanie Crowley McWilliam, PhD, explores sleep and circadian timing with an emphasis on interventions, like bright light, exogenous melatonin, and timed sleep/wake schedules to correct circadian misalignment in situations like night shift work and jet lag.

Christopher Goetz, MD

Christopher G. Goetz, MD, is primarily interested in studying hallucinations, abnormal movements terms dyskinesia and rating measures to assess movement disorders.

Jennifer Goldman, MD

Jennifer G. Goldman, MD, MS, associate professor, is conducting research studies to determine what causes cognitive, behavioral and emotional changes in patients with movement disorders, particularly Parkinson’s disease, Dementia with Lewy Bodies, and Huntington’s Disease, and how to improve treatments for these problems.

Deborah A. Hall, MD, PhD

Deborah A. Hall, MD, PhD, associate professor, has two major areas of research. First, she conducts research in Parkinson’s disease with a focus on exercise intervention studies, clinical trials and genetics. She is head neurologist for a three-site NIH R01 to find the dose of exercise for PD patients. In addition, she is doing translational work with the monkey and mouse labs at Rush by conducting the human aim of a NIH R01 looking at biomarkers for Parkinson disease that can be targeted with medication.

Stevan Hobfoll, PhD

The Traumatic Stress and Resilience Research Group is focused on how individuals and groups are impacted by traumatic life circumstances and how that translates to psychological distress and illness as well as a surprising degree of thriving.

Xiu-Ti, Hu, MD, PhD

The research of Xiu-Ti Hu, MD, PhD, focuses on revealing the pathophysiology that may contribute to the cellular/ molecular mechanism underlying drug addiction and neuroAIDS. HIV infection and cocaine abuse induce functional and anatomical changes in some brain regions, including but not limited to the prefrontal cortex (PFC), striatum and hippocampus that are implicated in the progression of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) and cocaine addiction. Elucidating the mechanism(s) of such changes may help the development of novel therapeutical strategies to treat HAND, drug addiction, and the comorbidity. Combined electrophysiological, biochemical, and molecular biological approaches, associated with various rodent models of drug addiction and neuroHIV of humans, are currently used for our research. Collaboration between my research team and others are actively ongoing in and out of Rush University.  

My early research focused on neurodegenerative diseases and drug abstinence-associated dysfunction in the mesocorticolimbic dopamine systems, primarily in the medial PFC (mPFC), ventral/dorsal striatum, and midbrain. I contributed to pioneer the field of research regarding cocaine-induced maladaptations in voltage-gated ion channels and related signaling in the brain of rodents. I and my colleagues demonstrated, for the first time, that repeated cocaine exposure in vivo induces functional adaptations in the Na+, K+, and L-type Ca2+ channels, as well as related intracellular signaling studied ex vivo. Such pathophysiology is found in different neuron types in the mPFC and striatum, which is involved in regulating drug-induced behavioral changes, and that may contribute to the underpinnings of cocaine addiction. Importantly, these brain regions are also found to be the most vulnerable structures to HIV infection and AIDS.

More recently, my research is extended and deepened to define the molecular mechanisms that underlie changes in the intrinsic excitability of neurons in the brain induced by HIV proteins and cocaine. Specifically, (1) to determine the mechanisms that underlie dysregulation of cortical/striatal excitability mediated by over-activation of L-type Ca2+ channels, and (2) to reveal the interplay of astrocytes and neurons in the rat brain following exposure to HIV proteins and cocaine.

Jeffrey Kordower, PhD

The laboratory of Jeffrey Kordower, PhD, is interested in the study of aging and neurodegenerative disease. It has special expertise in pathogenesis (how the brain degenerates) and experimental therapeutic strategies in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and multiple system atrophy – especially using nonhuman primate models.

Sue Leurgans, PhD

Sue Leurgans, PhD, focuses on population studies and biostatistics.

Celeste Napier, PhD

The laboratory of Celestre Napier, PhD, focuses on changes in the mammalian brain that are imposed by abused drugs (e.g., cocaine, methamphetamine, dopamine agonists and heroin), toxic proteins expressed by HIV and biological factors derived from the gastrointestinal system (i.e., the gut).

Dan Nicholson, PhD

Dan Nicholson, PhD, studies neurobiology of cognitive aging and dementia in humans and animal models.

Joan O’Keefe, PT, PhD

The short-term goals of the research program of Joan O’Keefe, PT, PhD, are to develop an early detection model for FXTAS and identify additional molecular risk factors for developing this disorder. A second research focus, in collaboration with Elizabeth Berry-Kravis, MD, PhD, revolves around a clinical trial related to the neurodegenerative disorder Niemann-Pick C, or NPC

Kalipada Pahan, PhD

Kalipada Pahan, PhD, studies cell signaling and inflammation in brain diseases using humans and animal models.

Glenn Stebbins, PhD

Glenn “Skip” Stebbins, PhD, explores advanced neuroimaging in Alzheimer’s disease, ischemic stroke, and movement disorders in humans.