Welcome to the Department of Neurology


Principal Investigators A - B

Md. Mahiuddin Ahmed, PhD

Dr. Ahmed is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology, the University of Colorado Alzheimer’s and Cognition Center (CUACC), and the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Dr. Ahmed’s long-term research goal is to develop drug treatments for people with Down syndrome and/or Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Ahmed’s recent research findings show that treatment with Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor (GM-CSF) improves both learning and memory and brain pathologies in the Dp16 mouse model of Down syndrome and improves learning and memory in aged wild-type mice. His current research is focused on determining the effects of GM-CSF treatment on learning and memory, amyloidopathy, tauopathy, and neuroinflammation in the aged TgF344-AD rat model of Alzheimer’s disease, and on investigating whether GM-CSF treatment reduces SARS-CoV-2 infection and associated mortality in a transgenic mouse model of COVID-19.

Enrique Alvarez, MD, PhD

Dr. Alvarez’s research interests include optimizing treatment decisions for patients with multiple sclerosis and related diseases and especially in clinical studies involving immunotherapy for the treatment of this disease.  Additionally, Dr. Alvarez is interested in biomarkers to improve treatment decisions and diagnosis of neuroimmunological diseases.

Amy W. Amara, MD, PhD

Dr. Amara’s research interests include investigation of the impact of exercise and other non-pharmacological interventions on sleep, cognition, and motor outcomes in people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). She is also interested in the influence of deep brain stimulation and other therapies on sleep in PD. Dr. Amara’s lab also studies the effects of sleep on longitudinal cognitive changes in PD and how neuroinflammation may influence these changes. In addition, she has served as site investigator for multi-site studies evaluating biomarkers and investigational therapies in patients with Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.

Alan Anderson, MD (Professor Emeritus)

Dr. Anderson’s research is focused on stroke prevention and the cognitive and emotional effects of stroke. He assesses neurobehavior in patients with focal cerebrovascular lesions and vascular dementia.

David B. Arciniegas, MD

My academic and clinical work as a subspecialist in Behavioral Neurology & Neuropsychiatry over the last three decades has focused principally on the structural and functional neuroanatomy, clinical assessment, and treatment of the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral sequelae of traumatic brain injury (TBI), other acquired brain injuries, neurodegenerative disorders, and mood and psychotic disorders. My research employs multimodal clinical assessments, including neuropsychological, magnetic resonance imaging, electrophysiological, and neurogenetic testing, and the integration of such assessments into single- and multi-center clinical trials focused on the diagnosis, pharmacotherapy, and psychosocial treatment of cognitive and non-cognitive neuropsychiatric consequences of these conditions.

Sana Aslam, DO

Dr. Aslam's research interests include understanding the use of deep brain stimulation in movement disorders to improve clinical outcomes. She is also interested in the role exercise plays in Parkinson's patients with deep brain stimulation in improving motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

Alexandra Atwood, MD

Alexandra Atwood's research interests include barriers to receiving care in patients with non-epileptic seizures, as well as neuropsychological outcomes in post surgical epilepsy patients.

Delia Bakeman, DO

Dr. Bakeman’s research interests include novel therapeutics for severe traumatic brain injury, bridging the gap from hospital to community for neurorehabilitation services and access, and the impact of early neuropsychiatric intervention on recovery and prognosis.

Ashley Baranoff, NP

Ms. Baranoff's research interests pertain to the treatment of Epilepsy and its effect on a patient’s physical and mental health, looking specifically at anxiety, depression, and overall quality of life.

Alexander Baumgartner, MD

Dr. Baumgartner’s research interest is in non-motor Parkinson disease symptoms, with a particular focus on how these symptoms might be affected by advanced therapies, including deep brain stimulation (DBS). He has recently completed a pilot project using the Medtronic Percept IPG’s local field potential sensing capabilities to record sleep in the home environment. He is now using other wearable devices to monitor sleep quality before and after DBS implantation to better understand how DBS alters sleep structure and quality. Finally, he is working to understand how certain event-related potentials might be used as biomarkers of freezing of gait and cognitive impairment in Parkinson disease.

Jeffrey L. Bennett, MD, PhD

Optic Neuritis. Optic neuritis (ON) is the most common clinically-isolated demyelinating syndrome, and is the presenting feature in approximately 25% of individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). Dr. Bennett is attempting to identify the primary target of the humoral immune response in ON and MS. His laboratory utilizes a RT-PCR protocol to amplify the expressed variable-region sequences of single B-lymphocytes and plasma cells isolated from ON CSF by fluorescence-activated cell sorting. The B-lymphocyte and plasma cell heavy- and light-chain pairings found in vivo are reconstituted in vitro to produce a panel of recombinant monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) whose specificity is determined by immunocytochemistry, immunoblotting, and screening of white matter and random peptide expression libraries. Since many patients with ON do not develop MS, these studies will allow identification of clinical and molecular risk factors that may point to the ultimate cause of human demyelinating disease and allow physicians to identify at-risk individuals, to diagnose MS at the earliest stage of disease and to treat patients with therapies designed to modify or even cure disease.

Occult Chorioretinal (OC) Disorder. Acute zonal occult outer retinopathy, multiple evanescent white dot syndrome, acute macular neuroretinopathy, acute idiopathic blind spot enlargement syndrome, multifocal choroiditis, punctate inner choroidopathy and diffuse subretinal fibrosis syndrome are a group of chorioretinal inflammatory disorders of unknown etiology that mimic optic neuropathy. These disorders possess common clinical features, and affected individuals may evolve from one condition to another. Dr. Bennett’s laboratory has identified clones in a human uveal retinal cDNA expression library and a random peptide library whose products react with serum or immunoglobulins from OC patients. Using molecular biological techniques, the lab screens candidate antigens with sera from OC and control patients to characterize disease-relevant clones. Identification of OC-specific markers will help classify occult chorioretinal disorders as a specific nosologic entity.

Julie J. Berk, MS, PA-C

Ms. Berk's research interests are related to projects aimed at improving the quality of life for those suffering with chronic neurologic disease, and their families.

Brianne M. Bettcher, PhD, ABPP-CN​

Dr. Bettcher is an Assistant Professor and neuropsychologist in the Department of Neurology, and directs neuropsychology research at the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center. The overarching goal of Dr. Bettcher’s research program is to elucidate modifiable factors that will inform early treatments for cognitive decline for a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases. Dr. Bettcher’s laboratory focuses on the intersection of innate immunity, Alzheimer’s disease pathology, and cognitive function in late life. Her research utilizes plasma-based and CSF-based multiplex arrays of chemokines, growth factors, and cytokines to delineate how peripheral immune signatures contribute to pathological aging trajectories.

Marius Birlea, MD

I am interested in exploring the epidemiology and social implications of migraine and other primary headaches, including social causation and ways to decrease disability associated with severe headache conditions. The factors involved in the development of chronic headache are multiple and may include frequent reactivation of latent viruses, which can be evaluated by laboratory parameters. Another area of interest for me is searching for laboratory biomarkers that may be associated with migraine and comorbid conditions, including possible blood dyscrasias and cardiovascular disorders. Therapeutic avenues are explored using neuromodulation device Cefaly.

Patrick J. Bosque, MD

Dr. Bosque’s research is directed at chronic wasting disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other prion disorders of humans and animals. Dr. Bosque also studies the role of protein misprocessing in various neurodegenerative diseases.

Isabelle Buard, PhD

I am a neurophysiologist with a unique scientific trajectory from lab bench to pre-clinical and clinical research. I have studied brain correlates of motor development, function and dysfunction using diverse models, ranging from single brain cells to neuronal networks, in both animals and humans with or without neurological disorders.
The focus of my current research is on the neurophysiology of motor dysfunction in movement disorders, particularly understanding the underlying neuropathophysiology and testing novel treatment approaches using diverse brain imaging techniques such as magnetoencephalography (MEG), electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). I am also investigating the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) as a tool to modulate brain networks dynamic and assess excitation/inhibition (im)balance in cortical regions. Finally, I am integrating these state-of-the-art techniques with experimental paradigms relying on the neurophysiological analysis of sensorimotor control to provide an inclusive view of the neural control of movement.

Haley A. Burke, MD

Dr. Burke is interested in research on ketamine use for neuropathic pain states and opioid induced hyperalgesia.

Chad K. Bush, MD, MPH

Dr. Bush currently has particular interest in optimizing care, including transitions in and coordination of care for all patients with seizures, especially those with medically refractory epilepsy, across the age continuum, as well as patients with non-epileptic seizures, especially with regard to optimization of and access to care for underserved and traditionally marginalized populations, who suffer from any of these diverse neurologic disease states. With that in mind, he is additionally interested in creation, promotion and completion of quality and process improvement projects for patients with seizures, epilepsy, stroke and other neurologic conditions at Denver Health Medical Center.


Principal Investigators C - F

Tara C. Carlisle, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Tara Carlisle is interested in predicting risk of cognitive decline as well as cognitive resiliency. She is working on developing a pragmatic tool to predict cognitive decline in Parkinson's disease (PD) with the use of easily obtained history and clinical features with the goal of understanding potentially modifiable risk factors to prevent or slow cognitive decline in PD. She is also interested in the role of inflammation in cognitive resiliency and the potential underlying mechanisms that may protect individuals from developing cognitive decline and dementia.

Aaron Carlson, MD
Dr. Carlson's research interests primarily focus on the equitable delivery of care to neurology patients and in clinical trials. His current project aims to determine the prevalence, demography, and care patterns for multiple sclerosis patients in a population of >15 million, comprising ~75% of the Florida population. His clinical trial experience includes serving as a site PI and sub-investigator for consortium-based and industry-sponsored studies in neuroimmunology.


Naveed Chaudhry, MD
Dr. Carlson's research interests include dietary therapies for epilepsy, quality improvement in the epilepsy monitoring unit, and epilepsy in women of childbearing age.


Penny Clarke, PhD

Virus-induced diseases of the central nervous system (CNS), including the brain (encephalitis) and spinal cord (myelitis) induce significant morbidity and mortality throughout the world. Treatments for these diseases are sub-optimal or non-existent. Dr. Clarke’s laboratory uses clinically important viral pathogens (West Nile virus, Japanese encephalitis virus and herpes simplex virus) to investigate cellular genes and signaling pathways that are up-regulated or activated in the CNS following virus infection and to evaluate these host factors as therapeutic targets for virus-induced CNS disease. Dr. Clarke’s research has identified apoptosis as a key mechanism of virus-induced pathology within the CNS and interferon signaling as a critical component of anti-viral defenses. Dr. Clarke’s research has also demonstrated the generation of a robust neuroinflammatory response in the CNS following virus infection, including the activation of resident immune cells (astrocytes and microglia) and the up-regulation of pro-inflammatory gene expression. The role of this response in viral pathology is currently being investigated.   


John R. Corboy, MD

Dr. Corboy's research involves immunotherapies for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. These studies look at novel, still unapproved agents, as well  FDA approved therapies in novel settings. He is also interested in identification of individuals at high risk of developing MS, and determining the safety and risks associated with discontinuation of MS therapies. He is the Director of the Rocky Mountain MS Center Tissue Bank, one of the world’s largest MS-specific banks, providing MS tissues to researchers all over the world. In collaboration with others on campus, he also studies biomarkers of disease activity in MS.


Denise M. Damek, MD

Dr. Damek’s clinical research interest focuses on experimental drug therapy of CNS tumors. Ongoing clinical trials in the neuro-oncology program include investigation of novel drugs, new combinations of chemotherapy agents, innovative approaches of radiation therapy, and immunotherapy.


Sam F. DeStefano, MD

Dr. DeStefano's research interests include investigating mechanisms and interactions between several neurostimulation devices (e.g. RNS, VNS) used for patients with drug resistant epilepsy. He is also focusing on quality improvement within the epilepsy monitoring unit.


Stacy E. Dixon, MD, PhD

Dr. Dixon is interested in clinical trials for treating adults with spinal muscular atrophy.


Stephen P. Duntley, MD

Dr. Duntley is actively involved as Principal Investigator in multicenter clinical trials investigating new pharmaceutical treatments in the sleep medicine field. Current research involves using readily accessible but under-utilized data sets such as inpatient telemetry signals to detect sleep disorders and measure sleep quality. Other recent areas of research include biomarkers of sleep need, pathophysiology of Restless Legs Syndrome, and interactions between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease, sleep and depression, and sleep and fatigue.


Christopher M. Filley, MD

Dr. Filley has conducted research in many areas of behavioral neurology, including the dementias, traumatic brain injury, focal neurobehavioral syndromes, and neuropsychiatric disorders. Throughout his career, the unifying theme of his research has been the behavioral neurology of white matter, as manifested by a wide range of disorders such as toluene leukoencephalopathy, multiple sclerosis, CADASIL, systemic lupus erythematosus, and fragile X tremor/ataxia syndrome. Dr. Filley has formally proposed the concept of white matter dementia to call attention to the cognitive dysfunction that can be attributable to white matter involvement, and worked to characterize the specific neurobehavioral features of this syndrome, as described in his book, The Behavioral Neurology of White Matter, now in its second edition. His current interests center on the role of disrupted white matter in the etiopathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, a perspective that informs the expanded departmental effort to investigate Alzheimer's Disease.

Kelly Finch, NP

Ms. Finch is currently involved with the research teams for both the Longitudinal Biomarker Study in memory and dementia, as well as clinical trials with Leukine and Aducanumab.


Laura A. Foster, MD

Dr. Foster is interested in clinical research focused on improving quality of life for patients with ALS.


Heather Free, MS PA-C

I am interested in exploring novel therapies for headache prevention and control.


Vera Fridman, MD

Dr. Fridman’s research interests focus of identifying therapies for hereditary nerve disorders (also known as Charcot Marie Tooth Disease). Additionally, she is interested in identifying new forms of hereditary neuropathy and in defining biomarkers that can be used to measure progression in these disorders over time. 


Michelle Fullard, MD, MSCE

Dr. Fullard’s research focuses on health services and health outcomes in Parkinson’s disease, as well as disparities in outcomes and care. She is also interested in using technology to improve symptom monitoring and access to care in Parkinson’s disease. Her current projects examine health care utilization in older adults with Parkinson’s disease, factors associated with disability in Parkinson’s disease, and using smart phone applications and wearable devices to track symptoms in Parkinson’s disease.

Principal Investigators G - M

Aaron S. Geller, MD

Dr. Geller’s research interests include software techniques for identification and localization of epileptogenic tissue, sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), and the neurophysiology of human memory.


Robert H. Gross, MD

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic condition of the central nervous system consisting of inflammatory and neurodegenerative components. Many treatments targeting the immune system have been shown to positively influence the disease course of MS patients, though there remains a significant variability in patient outcomes. Dr. Gross is interested in learning more about this heterogeneity through the identification of blood, spinal fluid, and imaging biomarkers associated with treatment response and with neurological decline.


Arash Hadipour-Niktarash, MD

Dr. Hadipour-Niktarash's research interests include multi-scale dynamics and functional network in epileptic brain states, fundamentals of cortical and subcortical oscillations, quantitative EEG, mechanisms of seizure propagation and brain stimulation/neuromodulation.

Trevor H. Hawkins, MD

Dr. Hawkins is interested in the diagnosis, management and clinical progression of genetic forms of ataxia, in particular spinocerebellar ataxia. He is also interested in the use of cannabis in Huntington’s disease and other neurological diseases. He is involved in several clinical trials for treatment of other movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease.

Nitish Harid, MD

Dr. Harid is interested in neuromodulation for refractory epilepsy, and in the education of resident trainees in the speciality of epilepsy.

Samantha K. Holden, MD 

With training in both behavioral neurology and movement disorders, Dr. Holden’s research focuses on cognition, behavior and quality of life in parkinsonian conditions. Her current research projects include determining the best methods for predicting and diagnosing dementia in Parkinson’s disease, as well as investigating non-pharmacological treatments for bothersome behavioral symptoms in dementia, such as music therapy. She is interested in developing practical and personally meaningful interventions to improve quality of life for people living with neurodegenerative dementias. 

Richard L. Hughes, MD

Dr. Hughes has an extensive history of Clinical Research in Cerebrovascular Disease. This includes multiple NIH Multi-Center trials for Cartotid Endarterectomy, Unruptured Aneurysms, PKD-Related Aneurysm natural history, most recently the Wafarin Aspirin trial in heart failure (WARCEF), and the soon-to-be released Insulin Resistence in Ischemic Stroke (IRIS). He has also participated in many industry supported trials, incluing CAPRI (clopidogrel), PROFESS (ASA/Dipyridamole vs. Clopidogrel), Acute Neuroprotection, PFO Closure, and in the earlty rTPA clinical trials.

Over the past 20 years, Dr. Hughes has become more involved in the scholarship of clinical stroke service delivery. After Co-Directing the Colorado Acute Stroke Network to support hospitals' transition to the rTPA era, he has worked on the AHA national committes for the development and implementaion of Primary Stroke Centers, then Comprehensive Stroke Centers, and soon Acute Stroke Ready Centers. He currently sits on the AHA Hospital Accreditation Committee, which oversees all of the stroke and cardiac programs jointly administrated by the AHA and The Joint Commission.

Ryan Kammeyer, MD

Dr. Kammeyer’s research interests include evaluation of biomarkers of disease activity in autoimmune encephalitis (with Dr. Amanda Piquet) and neuro-rheumatologic diseases such as neuropsychiatric lupus, with a goal of improving diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of these rare diseases. He is also researching neuropsychological and socioeconomic outcomes in pediatric onset multiple sclerosis (with Dr. Teri Schreiner), and evaluation and treatment of regression in patients with Down syndrome (with the Linda Crnic Institute).

Lesley C. Kaye, MD

Dr. Kaye’s research interests include epilepsy surgical outcomes, specifically focusing on factors which contribute to long term success or failure of surgery. She has also studied post-stroke seizure, looking for biomarkers which may predict late onset seizure occurrence. She is additionally interested in patient access to tertiary epilepsy centers, and quality improvement projects within the epilepsy division.

Drew D. Kern, MD, MS

Dr. Kern is interested in several novel diagnostic approaches and treatment options for movement disorders. These areas include investigating potential biomarkers in parkinsonism, including tissue biopsies of skin and colon as well as cardiac imaging (MIBG SPECT scanning). He has an interest in surgical treatments, particularly deep brain stimulation (DBS), investigating optimal patient selection for dystonic tremor and the use of interleaving stimulation. Finally, he is involved in several clinical trials including botulinium toxin and medications.

Jarrett Leech, MD
Dr. Leech's research interests include biomarkers and therapeutics in refractory status epilepticus.

Maureen A. Leehey, MD (Professor Emerita)

Dr. Leehey studies the etiology and treatment of neurodegenerative disease characterized by movement disorders. She and her collaborators discovered the fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS), which affects about 1 in 10,000 men over age 50, especially grandfathers of children with fragile X syndrome. Working with another team of scientists, she uncovered the genetic etiology (a prion mutation) and described the clinical findings of a large family with a rare neurodegenerative disease. Most recently Dr. Leehey is leading research on the effects of cannabidiol (CBD), a component of marijuana, on Parkinson disease. Dr. Leehey continues to she direct multiple clinical trials designed to offer novel medical therapy and to uncover the etiology and genetics of various movement disorders, especially Parkinson disease. She collaborates closely with basic scientists to translate their efforts into meaningful interventions. Her efforts are funded by the National Institutes of Health, Michael J. Fox Foundation, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and other governmental and private agencies.


Michelle Hu Leppert, MD, MBA, MS

Dr. Leppert utilizes health services research methods to study stroke. Her particular interests include cost-effectiveness evaluation and strokes in young adults.

Ang Li, MD
Dr. Li's areas of research include narcolepsy and parasomnias.


Ravi Mahalingam, PhD

Dr. Mahalingam’s laboratory studies varicella pathogenesis and latency and reactivation in an animal model. Studies include the role of cell-mediated immunity in the regulation of varicella latency and reactivation. A bacmid-based approach is used to generate mutant varicella virus to study immune evasion by varicella viruses. State-of-the-art technologies such as multiplex PCR analysis is also used for simultaneous detection of multiple human herpes viruses in biological specimens. Finally, the laboratory uses diagnostic tools to understand neurological complications of zoster including postherpetic neuralgia.

Elizabeth Matthews, MD

Dr. Matthews' research interests include neuroinfectious diseases and autoimmune neurology. As a Neurohospitalist, she has a particular interest in the acute inpatient work-up and management of these disorders.

Brice V. McConnell, MD, PhD

Dr. McConnell's current research interests include an investigation of changes to brain function among patients with cognitive problems, including dementia and Alzheimer's disease. His current research goals include the development of novel treatments for memory, mood, and behavioral problems that will utilize non-invasive brain stimulation.


Principal Investigators N - R


Maria A. Nagel, MD

Dr. Nagel specializes in neurovirology and studies how varicella zoster virus (VZV), which causes chicken pox and shingles, causes stroke. Her clinical studies include defining the frequency of VZV in patients with stroke, giant cell arteritis, and atypical facial pain. Her basic science studies focuses on the role of purinergic signaling and inflammation on VZV-induced pathological vascular remodeling.

Kavita V. Nair, PhD

Kavita V. Nair, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Neurology and the Center for Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research (CePOR) at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Over the last decade her primary research interests lie in evaluating the treatment of neurological diseases. Primarily in examining the comparative effectiveness of disease modifying agents used in the management of multiple sclerosis using a combination of several measures to include brain atrophy measurement, clinical cognition, blood biomarkers and patient reported outcomes. Dr. Nair leads the Neurology Investigator Initiated Trials Team (NIITe) program in the Department of Neurology whose primary goal is to foster research relationships between neurology investigators and industry partners. Her other areas of interest involve improving access related issues and assessing the disruption in care for patients with neurological conditions taking infusible agents. She also serves as the Vice Chair of the Coding and Payment Policy Subcommittee and a member of the Health Services Research Subcommittee at the American Academy of Neurology. 

Douglas E. Ney, MD

Dr. Ney’s clinical research focuses on innovative and novel treatments for patients with glioma, central nervous system lymphoma and other primary and secondary brain tumors. Research interests also include histiocytic disorders, quality of life and patient reported outcomes in patients with brain tumors, neurologic complications of cancer and paraneoplastic disorders.


Darcy O'Banion, CNS

Ms. O’Banion is interested in research that focuses on the etiology, prevention and treatment of stroke, along with an interest in the quality of care of patients with ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes in the acute care setting and determinants of stroke recovery.


Chantal O'Brien, MD

Dr. O’Brien is currently involved as an Investigator in the Epilepsy Surgery Quality Improvement project and Sub Investigator in multiple industry sponsored clinical trials of novel anti-epileptics at the University of Colorado.


Debra O'Reilly, MS, PA-C

Debra O’Reilly, PA-C is interested in clinical trials for the treatment of ALS. She is actively involved in a trial investigating the use of diaphragmatic stimulation to assist ventilation in patients with ALS and a new drug in the treatment of ALS. She is also working on a quality improvement project to address and treat depression in patients with neuromuscular disease. Lastly, she is involved in the treatment of myasthenia gravis with Rituximab.


Karen D. Orjuela, MD

Dr. Orjuela’s research interests include areas of vascular neurology specifically secondary stroke prevention, cryptogenic stroke, inherited cerebrovascular disorders and stroke in children and young adults. Her other areas of research interest include stroke disparities worldwide and stroke systems of care in developing countries. 


Gregory P. Owens, PhD

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a CNS inflammatory disease of unknown cause.  Dr. Owens’ research investigates the role of B cell immunity in the pathogenesis of MS.  To better understand the nature of this response, they have used fluorescence-activated cell sorting and single cell PCR to analyze the B and plasma cell populations infiltrating the CNS of MS patients. The features of the B cell repertoire are indicative of a targeted and antigen driven response in MS. They have generated a panel of monoclonal recombinant antibodies from plasma cell clones identified in MS CSF and are using recombinant antibodies for immunological screening to identify disease relevant MS antigens.


Daniel M. Pastula, MD, MHS

As a neurologist and CDC-trained medical epidemiologist, Dr. Pastula is interested in the epidemiology of various neurologic and infectious conditions. He has particular interest in neuro-infectious diseases (e.g., meningitis and encephalitis), arboviruses and other vector-borne diseases, emerging infectious diseases, neurotoxicology, and many other acute neurologic conditions. Dr. Pastula also has experience in cluster and outbreak investigations, emergency response, and public health policy.


Victoria S. Pelak, MD

Dr. Pelak’s research investigates cortical visual processing, with a particular interest in the effects of aging and dementia on visual motion processing. She is exploring new methods to diagnose and track cortical visual dysfunction in early Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Traditionally, it is believed that visual processing deficits occur in the middle or late stages of AD. Recent studies from her Visual Perception Laboratory have demonstrated that visual processing deficits (as detected by a novel virtual task of kinetopsic 3D object processing developed by her research group) may be readily detectable in the very early stages of AD; this may have implications for predicting progression from mild memory impairment to AD. Additional ongoing investigations include studies of the effects of testosterone on visual motion/object/spatial processing and studies of visual hallucinations associated with degenerative disorders and vision loss. Methods of assessment include psychophysical testing using immersive virtual reality technology in her Visual Perception Laboratory and functional MRI techniques at the UCDSOM Brain Imaging Center.


Jacob Pellinen, MD

My primary clinical research interest is identifying factors that delay the diagnosis and treatment of patients with new-onset epilepsy, specifically identifying areas for potential intervention to reduce the burden of delayed diagnosis.


Alison Percowycz, NP

Ms. Percowycz's research interests includes the management of acute and chronic headache disorders and quality of life of migraine patients.


Amanda L. Piquet, MD

Dr. Piquet’s research interests include optimizing diagnosis and treatment for patients with autoimmune neurological diseases; this includes the development of standardized guidelines and protocols for the diagnostic work up and treatment for autoimmune encephalitis. Previously, she has been involved with quality improvement projects focus on the diagnosis and management of patients with acute encephalitis.


Sharon N. Poisson, MD

Dr. Poisson’s research focuses on etiology, prevention and treatment of transient ischemic attack (TIA) and stroke. She has conducted research evaluating gender roles in the treatment of carotid stenosis in TIA, as well as the role of intracranial large vessel stenoses in TIA. She has a specific interest in the increasing trends of ischemic stroke in young adults, and is studying the role of atherosclerotic risk factors and race as potential causes of this trend, as well as the role of endothelial activation in stroke in the young. In addition, she has an interest in the quality of hospital care of patients with ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. 


Huntington Potter, PhD

Our current research is devoted to laboratory and clinical investigation of neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and trisomy 21/Down syndrome (DS), which also induces AD by age 40. We hypothesized and showed that AD patients develop trisomy 21 and other aneuploid cells, including neurons, during the course of their life and thus that AD is a mosaic form of DS. We recently found the mechanism by which aneuploidy develops in AD: the Abeta peptide inhibits certain microtubule based kinesin motor proteins and thus prevents the transport of key cellular components, including vesicles, chromosomes, and microtubules themselves to their proper locations in the cell. As a result, dividing cells mis-segregate their chromosomes, generating aneuploid, including trisomy 21 cells in AD patients, cells in culture, and transgenic AD mice. Neurons also fail to localize neurotrophin and neurotransmitter receptors to the cell surface, resulting in the poor neuroplasticity. We have also found aneuploid neurons and other cells in patients and mouse models of Niemann Pick C and Fronto-Temporal Dementia, and that the aneuploid cells are prone to apoptosis, suggesting that chromosome mis-segregation may underlie many different forms of neurodegeneration. We are currently investigating the mechanism of chromosome mis-segregation and searching for means to prevent or reverse it. We also hypothesized that rheumatoid arthritis patients, who seldom develop AD release an endogenous protective molecule and showed that GMCSF and GCSF, over produced in RA, reverse AD pathology and cognitive deficits in a mouse model of AD. We are currently carrying out a clinical trial to test the safety and efficacy of human GMCSF (Leukine) in AD patients and have proposed a similar trial in DS. Finally, we showed some time ago that apoE4, the strongest risk factor for late onset AD, other than age itself, exerts its effect by catalyzing the conversion of monomeric Abeta into the multimeric form that is toxic to neurons and accumulates as amyloid deposits. We are currently searching for molecules that block the catalytic activity of apoE.


Robert W. Pratt, MD

Dr. Pratt has been a clinical investigator for many stroke therapy national and international trials, and has worked to decrease time to treatment for area stroke patients.


Peter S. Pressman, MD

Peter Pressman is interested in verbal and nonverbal communication in neurodegenerative diseases, particularly the frontotemporal dementias. He is particularly interested in applications of computational linguistics and paralinguistics to the assessment of neurological patients.


Dianna Quan, MD

Dr. Quan is involved in in clinical trials to study transthyretin familial amyloid polyneuropathy, new clinical therapies in ALS, and neuromuscular dysfunction in critical illness.


Thomas Ragole, MD

Dr. Ragole is interested in the areas where inpatient Neurology and Neuromuscular Disorders overlap, with particular focus on: 1) improving treatments and outcomes for myasthenia gravis, immune mediated neuropathies and immune mediated myopathies; 2) evidence-based practice and guideline development for the treatment of hospitalized patients; and 3) improving clinical decision-making at all levels of education.


Jeff Reynek, DNP

Mr. Reynek is interested in research about the impact of headaches on daily life, with a focus on the diagnosis and management of head pain conditions. 


Betty Rudisaile, MSN, AGNP-C

My research interest is mainly focused on headache management and affordability for new treatments. In the future, I would like to continue to investigate the correlation between Hispanic culture and how it can delay seeking early treatment for multiple conditions. I am passionate about investigating what is the most effective way to provide the best preventative care and early diagnosis, especially for those in the Hispanic community.

Principal Investigators S - Z

Brian Sauer, MD, PhD

Brian Sauer's research interests include the neurobiology of acute autoimmune and neuroinfectious diseases; the pathophysiology and treatment of new onset refractory status epilepticus (NORSE); computer-aided clinical decision making in the diagnosis and treatment of complex neurological disorders; and the design and development of health care networks for the efficient and equitable delivery of acute, inpatient neurological care.

Teri L. Schreiner, MD, MPH

Dr. Schreiner's research interests include genetic and environmental triggers of pediatric multiple sclerosis, immunotherapies for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, and quality of life in pediatric patients with demyelinating diseases. In collaboration with others on campus, she also studies biomarkers of disease activity in MS.

Avani Shah, MD

Avani Shah, MD, is an Instructor with the CU Alzheimer's and Cognition Center. She sees participants for our research studies for procedures such as lumbar punctures and neuro/physical exams, and works with patients in the Memory Disorders Clinic. She graduated with a Bachelors in Health Science and Minors in Psychology and Biology in 2017 followed by a Masters of Physician Assistant Studies from Northeastern University in 2019. Subsequently, she worked in the Boston area as a Neurology Physician Assistant. Her experience includes Neurocognitive Disorders and Dementias, Headache and Facial Pain, Neuromuscular Disorders, and Multiple Sclerosis. Her research interests include Alzheimer's Disease and Lewy Body Disease and their subtypes, as well as the impact of learning, language, and culture on the progression of Mild Cognitive Impairment.


Stefan Sillau, PhD

Dr. Sillau's interests include regression, generalized linear models, longitudinal data and mixed models, covariates measured with error, survival and event analysis, non-parametric/semi-parametric methods, clinical trials, sampling, and missing data issues.

Jennifer Simpson, MD

Dr. Simpson has multiple quality improvement projects, in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. She has outpatient initiatives that help to reduce admissions and improve patient experience in clinic. On the inpatient side, she is working to improve efficiency and timeliness of acute stroke treatment. She is also the local principal investigator for a national trial involving patients with transient ischemic attack.


John R Sladek, Jr. Ph.D

Dr. Sladek’s laboratory, since his early publications on the chemical neuroanatomy of mammalian brain, has focused on the unique distribution of the histologically identifiable monoamine neurotransmitters, especially dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin as well as peptidergic neurons of the hypothalamus including vasopressin, oxytocin, LHRH and others. His laboratory developed dual localization techniques that permitted detailed studies in higher order primates. His interests in the role these neurotransmitters played in normal brain function led to novel investigations during development and aging that suggested functional interactions between specific systems. In 1980, his pivotal publication in Science demonstrated that fetal neurons could be transplanted to the brain of a genetic mutant rat that that was incapable of producing vasopressin and that grafted fetal neurons could survive, integrate with the host brain and restore a lost neural  function. This lead to new and continuing studies on the potential for fetal dopamine neurons to restore motor activity in a primate model of Parkinson’s disease. His proof of principle findings led to the first clinical trials in parkinson patients and in recent years have been extended to incorporate human neural stem cells in the experimental protocols. Professor Sladek continues his exploration of the ability of the primate brain to respond to various neural repair strategies including the potential for induction of neurogenesis in response to injury. His work has been supported continuously by NIH, NSF and several foundations since 1974. Dr. Sladek is the founding President of the American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair, has presented his work at over 350 invited meetings and seminars and is Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of the journal, Experimental Neurology. 


Mark C. Spitz, MD

Dr. Spitz’ clinical research includes epilepsy that begins in the elderly, psychiatric aspects of epilepsy and physical injuries that occur from seizures. Dr. Spitz is involved in several ongoing medication trials.

Varun Sreenivasan, MD
Dr. Sreenivasan is interested in clinical research pertaining to muscular dystrophies, inflammatory myopathies, and inclusion body myositis.

Laura A. Strom, MD

Dr. Strom is currently working on investigator initiated clinical research with two different areas of interest. She continues to be very interested in the influence on patients with medically refractory epilepsy of the autonomic nervous system. She is working with resident physician, Dr. Peter Bergmann on a project to investigate how heart rate variability may predict changes in heart rate during seizure activity. Her second area of active interest is in the impact on epilepsy of hormones. She is working with another resident, Dr. Danielle McDermott to develop a research project looking at fluctuations in sex hormone levels in patient with medically refractory epilepsy. In addition to clinical research, Dr. Strom is primary investigator for several industry sponsored clinical trials of novel anti-epileptics as well as novel uses for anti-epileptic drugs which are already on the market.


Jean Tsai, MD

Dr. Tsai is interested in the regulation of sleep and the biological effects of sleep. The interaction between sleep disorders and neurological diseases, such as that between sleep apnea and stroke, RBD and neurodegenerative disorders, and RLS and movement disorders, is an area of particular importance.


Kenneth L. Tyler, MD

Dr. Tyler’s laboratory uses both in vivo and in vitro models to study the molecular and genetic basis of viral pathogenesis and viral-induced cell death in the CNS. Major current projects include: (1) Identifying differences in patterns of gene expression in the brain and the cognate signaling pathways induced by distinct neurotropic viruses, including reoviruses and flaviviruses (West Nile and Japanese encephalitis virus), in an effort to identify novel therapeutic targets for antiviral therapy; (2) Investigating the neuroinflammatory responses to CNS viral infections, including the activation of astrocytes, microglia and chemokine/cytokine production in experimental models utilizing mice and ex vivo brain and spinal cord slice cultures; and (3) Studying the mechanism of virus-induced CNS apoptosis, including mitochondrial and cell-death mediated pathways, and the impact of modulating these pathways on CNS injury and neuronal death.


Christina L. Vaughan, MD, MHS, MS

Dr. Vaughan has completed fellowship training in Movement Disorders and in Hospice/Palliative Medicine and holds a Master of Clinical Research (M.S.). She has participated in multiple clinical research studies as co-investigator, site-PI, and has served as Clinical Monitor for several multi-center clinical trials through the Huntington’s Study Group. At present she is most interested in: the optimization of multi-disciplinary care models for those with advanced and end-stage neurologic disease; strategies to improve quality of life for those with advanced neurologic disease and their families; the development of non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic interventions for management of advanced symptoms of parkinsonism, Huntington disease, and other movement disorders; and integration of tele-medicine as a means of outreach for those with advanced neurologic disease.


Matthew S. West, MD

Dr. West’s research interests cover multiple areas, including medical education, inpatient medicine and multiple sclerosis (MS). His primary interest is in medical/clinical education, particularly for residents and fellows, and includes methods of bedside teaching, curriculum development and effective feedback. He has also been involved in inpatient studies of acute treatment of stroke, secondary stroke prevention, and quality improvement initiatives in hospitalized neurology patients. His other area of interest is in optimizing treatment in patients with MS.


Stacey A. Wilson, PA-C

I am interested in epilepsy as a whole, and the improvement in the quality of life of our patients. I am also very interested in more effective treatments for those with non-epileptic seizures and improving their prognosis through better mental health services.  


Andrew Wolf, MD

Dr. Wolf’s research interests include evaluating treatment strategies for multiple sclerosis, developing biomarkers for progressive multiple sclerosis, and improving the safety of immunomodulatory therapeutics.


Jonathan H. Woodcock, MD

Dr. Woodcock directs clinical research projects in dementia including medication trials in Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive and functional deficits in adults with Down syndrome, and assessment and management of behavioral syndromes in dementia.


Jared J. Woodward, DO

My research interests involve crossover conditions spanning the fields of neurology and psychiatry; specifically functional neurological disorders. I will be assuming the directorship of the Non-Epileptic Seizure (NES) Clinic, where our team is actively engaged in clinical research targeting novel treatments for NES and other functional neurological conditions.


Grace Worland, NP

Ms. Worland is interested in patient education, especially as this relates to self-advocacy, and patient quality of life in the setting of chronic disease states.

Post Doctorate Research


Andrew Bubak, PhD

Laboratory of Maria Nagel, MD

Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is an exclusively human neurotropic virus that causes chickenpox (varicella) on primary infection after which virus establishes latency in neurons in the cranial nerve, dorsal root and autonomic ganglia along the entire neuraxis. With a decline in VZV-specific cell-mediated immunity such as seen in the elderly and immunocompromised individuals, VZV reactivates from one or more ganglia and typically produces zoster, which can be complicated by persistent dermatomal distribution pain (postherpetic neuralgia; PHN). I am interested in the neurochemical mechanisms mediating PHN at the junction of the peripheral and central nervous systems, with the hope of discovering novel targets for pain therapy. An additional interest includes developing RNAi based therapies for the prevention and treatment of viral infections.



James Eric Hassell, Jr., PhD

Laboratory of Maria Nagel, MD

Dr. Hassell completed his Ph.D. in Integrative Physiology/Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2019. His work in the Nagel lab focuses on behavioral changes and multi-organ changes that accompany varicella zoster virus (VZV) infection.


Michael Rudy, PhD

Laboratory of Kenneth Tyler, MD

Dr. Rudy conducted his graduate and postdoctoral research at the University of Rochester. Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is an emerging pathogen which causes a biennial respiratory disease and is associated with a rapid-onset muscle-weakness and limb paralysis in children (termed “acute flaccid myelitis”). The number of confirmed EVD-68 cases has increased markedly since its discovery, with 9 documented cases between 1962-2005; 699 documented cases between 2005-2010; and thousands of cases since 2014. It is not known whether the increased virulence of EV-D68 is due to a change in the virus or a change in population immunity. Density gradient centrifugation of three modern EV-D68 strains (US/MO/14-18947; US/CA/14-4231; US/IL/14-18952) plus an ancestral strain (Fermon) identified three distinct densities of infectious virus. Electron microscopy shows two different densities of naked particles and a third, previously unrecognized, membrane-associated form of the virus. Over 30% of the total infectivity of modern strains is associated with naked viral particles found at a density between 1.170g/cm3 and 1.210g/cm3, while less than 1% of the infectivity of Fermon is found in this density range, suggesting that particles with this density may account for differences in virulence between the modern and ancestral strains. Modern strains also show a second peak of infectivity at a density of 1.240g/cm3, while the ancestral Fermon strain shows only a single peak of infectivity at 1.272g/cm3. The membrane-associated form of the virus (density 1.070g/cm3 – 1.165g/cm3) appears to be present, in variable amounts, in all strains. It is infectious, sensitive to non-ionic detergent, and is positive for both CD63 and CD81, suggesting that the virus is associating with exosomes.

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