Resident Research Facilities and Opportunities

The Department of Neurosurgery maintains active, well-funded, multidisciplinary programs in clinical and basic research. Clinical research involves several large projects on computer-assisted neurosurgery, neural prostheses for artificial vision and intracranial monitoring, improved treatments for pediatric hydrocephalus, artificial disc and spine stabilization, immunotherapy for brain tumors, and bioengineering advances in endovascular surgery.

These programs are well-complimented by translational, extramurally-funded basic research projects in the pathophysiology of hydrocephalus, fetal alcohol syndrome and the alcohol-damaged brain, molecular neuro-oncology, cerebral ischemia and reperfusion injury in stroke, and damage mechanisms of traumatic closed head injury. A rich collaboration exists between neurosurgeons, neuroscientists, and biomedical engineers, and has produced clinically relevant improvements in cerebrospinal fluid shunt catheters, minimally-invasive neurosurgery, intra-arterial flushing/infusion and regional cerebral hypothermia, and endovascular coils.

The neurosurgery research faculty includes Drs. Conti, Ding, Harris, Mathupala and Parajuli. Various laboratories within the Neurosurgery Department and throughout Wayne State University, led by experienced, funded neuroscientists and biomedical engineers, provide basic research training in all neurosurgical fields, especially molecular neuro-oncology, the pathophysiology of hydrocephalus and other developmental disorders, neurotrauma, implantable neural stimulators and sensors, cerebral ischemia and reperfusion damage, nanotechnology, and brain imaging.  Likewise, clinicians offer many opportunities for patient studies. The research faculty provides mentorship within the Department of Neurosurgery. The goals of this research rotation are to develop a fundamental understanding of basic research, including critical thinking, experimental design, and data analysis, and to produce quality data for a minimum of two publications in well-respected, peer-reviewed journals.

 

The Conti Laboratory studies the mechanisms of alcohol action in the traumatically-injured brain. Using rodent models, experiments are designed to examine ethanol action at the cellular level and to define the signaling pathways that mediate the synaptic response to ethanol. Additional studies are aimed to examine ethanol-related behaviors, such as binge consumption and withdrawal. Of particular interest are the proteins, adenylyl cyclase 1 and 8, which promote neuronal survival in the neonatal brain following ethanol treatment in a model of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and mediate ethanol-induced neuroplasticity. Together, these studies will allow us to identify protein targets of alcohol and develop interventions for the alcohol-damaged brain. 
The Conti Laboratory is located on the fourth floor the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center – 4646 John R, Detroit, Michigan. 48201 

 

The Ding Laboratory studies traumatic brain injury and stroke therapy. In this Cerebrovascular Research Laboratory, on-going projects include: 1) translational study on highly selective hypothermia into ischemic territory in stroke therapy; 2) hibernation-like therapy in stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI); 3) exercise-induced endogenous neuroprotection in stroke, and functional recovery post-stroke; and 4) Blood Brain Barrier (BBB), Aquaporin water channel and neurovascular integrity in stroke and TBI.
The Ding Laboratory is located at Room #48 in the Helen Vera Prentis Lande Building – 550 E. Canfield, Detroit, Michigan 48201 

 

The Harris Laboratory studies hydrocephalus with a prudent focus on bioengineering strategies that could improve treatment. We integrate experimental bench top data with translational studies involving patients to deepen our knowledge of this complex disorder. High-throughput, high-resolution confocal microscopy is utilized to develop quantifiable comparisons across datasets. Additional studies are aimed at understanding the biological interaction of other neural engineered devices with the brain.
The Harris Laboratory is located at Room 3N73 in Children's Hospital of Michigan, 3901 Beaubien Street, Detroit, Michigan 48201.

 

The Mathupala Laboratory conducts neuro-oncology research. Both biochemical and molecular-biological techniques are used for metabolic targeting of glioblastoma multiforme via small-molecule drug candidates. The lab's primary focus is in targeting monocarboxylate transporters that facilitate glioma lactate efflux. Stable-isotope-based proteomic and metabolite profiling, metabolic flux analyses, and mitochondria-based functional studies are used to identify novel metabolic targets in glioma. The lab was the first to use interference RNA to target metabolism in brain tumors, and the first to demonstrate metabolic targeting of lactate efflux as a therapeutic strategy against malignant tumors, including methods to enhance radio-sensitivity of glioma via metabolic re-engineering. The studies initiated by the lab in 2002 have led to clinical trials, currently in phase I stage.
The Mathupala Laboratory is located at Room 607 in the Karmanos Cancer Institute Hudson-Webber Cancer Research Center, 4100 John R., Detroit Michigan 48201

 

The Mittal Laboratory, also known as the Translational Neuro-Oncology Research Laboratory, has several ongoing research projects focusing on brain tumor neurobiology for primary tumors meningiomas and glioblastomas and metastatic brain tumors derived from primary breast or lung cancer. The lab takes advantage of the unique capability to utilize freshly-resected patient brain tumor specimens to generate primary cultures for in vitro experiments as well as patient-derived xenograft mouse models for in vivo experiments. Both model systems are used to conduct experiments to study tryptophan metabolism in brain tumors in support of the clinical trials using tryptophan analogs as positron emission tomography (PET) tracers. The lab is also studying the comparative genomics of metastatic brain tumors with the goal of identifying a molecular signature of brain metastases and developing clinical diagnostic tests to predict which patients with extra-cranial primary cancers may be at greater risk to develop brain metastases.
The Mittal Laboratory is located at Rooms 603 & 604 in the Karmanos Cancer Institute Hudson-Webber Cancer Research Center, 4100 John R., Detroit Michigan 48201

 

The Parajuli Laboratory conducts research in the areas of immunology, neuro-oncology, neuro-inflammation and adjuvant therapeutics. On-going projects include: 1) Studies on the role of stromal immune cells (regulatory T cells and Th17 cells) as well as inflammatory cytokines (IL-17 and IL-6) in the progression of malignant gliomas; 2) Development of adjuvant therapeutic strategies for malignant gliomas using plant-derived compounds (Scutellaria extract, Resveratrol and Pterostilbene) in combination with chemotherapy and immunotherapy; 3) Mechanisms and role of neuro-inflammation in alcohol-induced neuro-degeneration. 
The Parajuli Laboratory is located at Rooms 130-132 in the Helen Vera Prentis Lande Building – 550 E. Canfield, Detroit, Michigan 48201