Research in the Kummer lab and in our collaborative group is focused on the mechanisms of cellular damage in traumatic brain injury (TBI) and in Alzheimer’s disease, with a particular focus on synaptic and other forms of gray matter injury. TBI is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and worldwide, and a major risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. We use a suite of nano through mesoscale imaging tools including advanced microscopic and MRI-based measurements to characterize novel forms of injury in these conditions and explore their connections.

We are particularly interested in developing translational methods to connect pre-clinical experiments with patients in the hospital—where the lab PI is a clinical neurointensivist specializing in TBI and other forms of acute brain injury—leveraging the advanced imaging facilities within and just outside the ICU (including an in-ICP PET scanner, three dedicated research MRI scanners, and a PET-MRI).

The lab recently developed a novel imaging technique to quantify synapses called SEQUIN, and applied this technique to identify synaptic loss after TBI. We are now using SEQUIN to better understand the mechanisms of synaptic injury in TBI, and the relationship between this process and subsequent neurodegeneration.