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Subspecialties and Research Opportunities


The neurology departments at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Boston Children's Hospital Boston (BCH) offer a wide variety of subspecialty clinics with active areas of research. In addition to the various opportunities to conduct independent research projects within these divisions, our program offers a specific research track known as the Harvard Medical School Neurology Resident Research Education Program, which is sponsored by an NIH R25 award. This award provides an opportunity for selected residents in the BCH and BIDMC neurology training programs to participate for 9 to 24 months in an intensive, mentored, research educational experience during the third year of residency and subsequent fellowship years. R25-supported training is designed to prepare participating residents for successful competition for independent mentored research awards, and to facilitate the transition from resident/fellow to clinician-scientist.

As part of a new mentoring project, we have created a database of research opportunities available to residents. We will match residents to research mentors according to their interests and goals. There are many additional opportunities not yet listed.

Research Opportunities Fall 2012 

Neurologic Subspecialty Divisions at BIDMC

The Division of Cerebrovascular Disease (Drs. Gottfried Schlaug, Louis Caplan, Sandeep Kumar, Magdy Selim, and Eric Searls) provides state-of-the-art care for patients with stroke or transient ischemic attacks. The Division integrates cutting edge technology for detection of stroke (including new MRI approaches to localization) with drug development programs to evaluate new pharmacological approaches to the treatment of stroke. The Division also includes post-stroke neurorehabilitatoin (Dr. Mick Alexander and Chun Lim) and study of brain plasticity that allows functional recovery after stroke (Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone and Dr. Michael Alexander). The Division offers an ACGME-accredited fellowship program in Cerebrovascular Disease and Stroke.

The Comprehensive Epilepsy Clinic (Drs. Donald Schomer, Steven Schachter, Frank Drislane, Babu Krishnamurthy, Volney Sheen, Bernard Chang, Trudy Pang, and Susan Herman) is the largest in New England and provides care to patients with complex and difficult-to-control seizure disorders. The Comprehensive Epilepsy Clinic, which runs a joint fellowship training program with Children's Hospital Boston, includes both inpatient and outpatient facilities for long-term monitoring of EEG to assess seizure control, as well as research programs in innovative pharmacological approaches to seizure control and surgical treatment of epilepsy. Basic research (Dr. Christopher Walsh and Dr. Matthew Anderson) examines the mechanisms for development of epilepsy as well as normal development of the cerebral cortex and hippocampus. A fellowship is offered in Clinical Neurophysiology, specializing in EEG/Epilepsy.

The Brain Tumor Program (Drs. Eric T. Wong, Erik Uhlmann, and Ekkehard Kasper) is a multi-disciplinary program that provides care for patients with primary brain tumors and with the neurological complications of systemic cancer. Research programs are coordinated with those at Children's Hospital and the Harvard Dana-Farber Cancer Center, and include basic studies of the interactions of trophic factors with CNS tumors, and clinical trial of new chemotherapy and radiotherapy protocols for brain tumors.

The Division of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders (Drs. Daniel Tarsy, David Simon, Daniel Press, Clifford Saper, Ludy Shih, Veronique Vanderhorst) specializes in the care of patients with disorders ranging from Parkinson's disease and tremors to dystonia and chorea. Innovative therapies, including microelectrode guided placement of subthalamic and thalamic stimulators, and new investigative medications are available. Research programs include clinical studies coordinated with the Movement Disorders Center and basic studies of the mechanisms of neural degeneration in Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. The Division offers a fellowship in Movement Disorders.

The Division of Cognitive Neurology (Drs. Albert Galaburda, Daniel Press, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Michael Alexander, Chun Lim, Daniel Cohen, Tamara Fong, and Margaret O'Connor,) provides integrated neurological, neuropsychiatric and neuropsychological care for patients with a variety of behavioral disorders due to nervous system disease. Research and clinical programs include dyslexia and learning disorders, memory, degenerative dementias, and schizophrenia, as well as a vigorous program in transcranial magnetic brain stimulation. There is a strong program on the use of functional MRI to investigate higher cortical functions of the brain. Cognitive Neurology interacts closely with the Comprehensive Epilepsy Clinic and with the Department of Psychiatry, which maintains an inpatient ward for the care of patients with severe behavioral disturbances. The Division maintains active fellowship programs in Behavioral Neurology for neurologists, psychiatrists, and neuropsychologists.

The Division of Neuromuscular Disease (Drs. Seward Rutkove, Elizabeth Raynor, Pushpa Narayanswami, and Andrew Tarulli) provides care for patients with disorders affecting peripheral nerve and muscle, ranging from muscular dystrophies to peripheral neuropathies. Research programs include new methods for measuring dysfunction of the peripheral nervous system and investigations into the genetics of neuromuscular disorders, particularly those due to mitochondrial gene defects. The Division offers a fellowship in Clinical Neurophysiology, specializing in EMG and Neuromuscular Disease.

The Autonomic and Peripheral Nerve Laboratory (Drs. Roy Freeman and Christopher Gibbons) is a nationally recognized diagnostic and research laboratory that evaluates both common and rare autonomic and peripheral nerve disorders. The diagnostic services provided include autonomic function testing, quantitative sensory testing, quantitative axon density in skin biopsies, and standard peripheral nerve studies and electromyography. Research endeavors of the laboratory encompass the development of methods to assess autonomic and small fiber nerve function; the investigation of the physiology, pathology and pathophysiology of autonomic function; the investigation of the pathogenesis of peripheral neuropathy, including diabetic neuropathy; and the treatment of autonomic dysfunction and peripheral neuropathies. A fellowship is offered in Clinical Neurophysiology, specializing in autonomic disorders and physiological testing.

The Multiple Sclerosis and Demyelinating Disorders Clinic (Drs. Marion Stein and Jacob Sloane) cares for patients with a wide range of demyelinating disorders. The research programs include research on the biology of myelinating cells as well as clinical trials of new diagnostic methods and therapies in multiple sclerosis.

The Sleep Disorders Clinic is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and is staffed by both Neurology (Drs. Jean Matheson, neurology co-director and Thomas Scammell) and Pulmonary Medicine. It is a regional referral center and provides evaluation and care to patients with a variety of sleep disorders. Research programs include the use of new monitoring techniques and drugs to treat sleep disorders (Dr. Matheson), interaction of human circadian rhythms with neuroimmune function (Dr. Janet Mullington), as well as basic research in the mechanisms of sleep and arousal (Drs. Clifford Saper, Nancy Chamberlin, Jun Lu and Thomas Scammell). The Division offers an ACGME-accredited Sleep Disorders fellowship.

The Neurogenetics Clinic (Drs. Penny Greenstein, Bernard Chang, and David Simon) provides evaluation and long-term management of patients with a wide range of inherited disorders of the nervous system. The Neurogenetics Program is coordinated with Boston Children's Hospital and interfaces with intensive research programs on the genetics of epilepsy (Christopher Walsh) and mitochondrial gene defects (David Simon).

The Division of Neuropathology (Dr. Matthew Anderson) provides diagnostic services for both surgical and autopsy neuropathology. Research programs include the development of new molecular methods for the evaluation and diagnosis of tissue specimens.

The Neuro-ophthalmology Clinic (Dr. Nurhan Torun) provides cross-disciplinary care of patients with disorders of the neurological function of the visual and vestibular systems.

The HIV/Neurology Clinic (Dr. Igor Koralnik) provides care to patients with neurological complications of AIDS and its many subsequent complications. Research in this Clinic focuses on progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), drugs to prevent AIDS dementia and mechanisms of opportunistic infections of the CNS and methods for early diagnosis.

The Neuro-rehabilitation Service (Drs. Michael Alexander, Chun Lim, and Alvaro Pascual-Leone) provides rehabilitation consultation to the Neurology inpatient services at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, coordinated with neurology follow-up at Youville Hospital/Spaulding Cambridge, a local rehabilitation hospital. Research includes studies on the mechanisms of neuronal death and recovery of function.

The Arnold Pain Center is a multi-disciplinary pain unit, run through the Department of Anesthesia and provides research opportunities in pain neurophysiology with Dr. Rami Burstein.

These clinical units are complemented by extensive research activities both at the level of basic science investigation and human studies. Basic science laboratories include programs in the Genetics of Cortical Development (Dr. Volney Sheen); Dyslexia and Cognitive Cortical Development (Drs. Albert Galaburda and Glenn Rosen); Oligodendrocyte Development, Myelination, and Remyelination; Molecular Biology of Ion Channels Regulating Neuronal Rhythmic Firing (Dr. Matthew Anderson); Mitochondrial Disorders (Dr. David Simon); and Brain Circuitry Regulating Integrated Functions such as Sleep, Breathing and Feeding (Drs. Clifford Saper, Thomas Scammell, Elda Arrigoni, and Nancy Chamberlin). Human studies work includes programs in Magnetic Brain Stimulation and Cognitive Function and Response to Injury (Dr. Pascual-Leone); Prefrontal dysfunction in Parkinson's disease (Dr. Dan Press); Effects of Immune Stimulation on Circadian Regulation of Sleep and Physiology (Dr. Janet Mullington); and Memory (Drs. Margaret O'Connor, Chun Lim, and Michael Alexander).

Neurologic Subspecialty Divisions at Boston Children's Hospital

The broad spectrum of clinical activities at BCH is complemented by the largest basic neuroscience program of any pediatric-neurology facility in the world. The group includes approximately 20 neuroscientists who occupy 30,000 square feet of research space on three floors of the Enders Research Facility, adjacent to CHB. Productive programs include research in molecular, cellular and systems neurobiology, and are available for resident training. Regularly scheduled research seminars, including a series for residents, are presented. Opportunities for research electives and post-residency fellowships are available.

The Division of Epilepsy/Clinical Electrophysiology, headed by Dr. Blaise Bourgeois, includes nine faculty. A 6-bed inpatient long-term monitoring unit that interfaces with a strong epilepsy surgery service is a key component of this Program. Major activities in EEG, evoked response studies, sleep disorders, and quantified EEG are important components and available to the resident for training.

The Behavioral Neurology Program, headed by Dr. David Urion, emphasizes autism, learning disturbances and attention deficit disorders. Clinical study and research involve sophisticated neurophysiological methodologies and functional imaging.

The Neurocritical Care Service carries out consultative activity for the 135 intensive care beds in the multidisciplinary, the cardiac and the neonatal intensive care units. This extremely active service is a superb source for education in pediatric neurological intensive care.

The Neuromuscular Program, headed by Dr. Basil Darras, is clinically very active, with a broad spectrum of disorders involving anterior horn cells, peripheral nerve, and muscle. Clinical investigation is especially active in the area of molecular diagnosis of Duchenne-Becker muscular dystrophy and in the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy.

The Neuro-oncology Program, headed by Dr. Nicole Ullrich, plays an important role in the large and very active Brain Tumor Center. Approximately 75 new pediatric patients with brain tumors are seen yearly, in concert with colleagues in Neurosurgery, Medical Oncology, and Radiation Therapy.
The Neonatal Neurology Program, headed by Dr. Janet Soul, includes an active outpatient service with clinical research studies of neonatal hemorrhagic and ischemic disorders and hydrocephalus, studied with innovative noninvasive technologies.
The Pediatric Sleep Program, headed by Dr. Richard Ferber, is the oldest comprehensive pediatric sleep program in the world. The program includes an active outpatient clinic and 7 pediatric sleep beds located at CHB and in network sites in Greater Boston.