Welcome to the Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at Johns Hopkins

There are about 1.7 million new cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the US every year, most of them from motor vehicle accidents (MVA) or falls. Although many cases of TBI cause brief changes in mental status (i.e. concussions) that usually improve over a few weeks or months, a substantial number lead to chronic disability because of permanent damage or progressive disease.

Severe forms of TBI include focal “bruises” of the brain (contusions) often associated with falls, and diffuse lesions of the axonal “wires” carrying electrical impulses from one nerve cell to another. These diffuse lesions do not require direct impact to the head and are usually associated with motor vehicle accidents (MVAs). Another form of TBI is associated with boxing (dementia pugilistica), and there is growing concern that repeat concussions in football and other contact sports may lead, in some athletes, to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) that is very similar.

CTE in humans

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have exposed upwards of 200,000 soldiers to TBI. Much of this exposure relates to explosion (blast) from mines or intermittent explosive devices, and blast injury to brain has become one of the signature problems of these recent wars. Blast injuries cause complex chronic disabilities that afflict young individuals and are of enormous cost to veterans and the military.

The multidisciplinary TBI Research Center is located in the Pathology Department and led by Dr. Vassilis Koliatsos. Our research team has diverse expertise, from clinical neuropsychiatry and human neuropathology to animal models and cellular and molecular biology. The goal of the TBIRC is to discover the pathological mechanisms causing TBI and use this understanding to develop and test new and more effective treatments.

Modeling Blast Injury In Rodents (Koliatsos et al, JNEN 2011)