Basic Science Research at the Stanford Stroke Center

Neurology & Neurological Sciences Stroke Research Labs

Marion Buckwalter, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, and Neurosurgery

Our lab focuses on how inflammatory responses after brain injury affect neurological recovery. In the United States, there are 4 million people currently living with the effects of stroke, and another 4.3 million living with the effects of traumatic brain injury. Of the people who have had a stroke, many are disabled to the degree that they cannot work, and a significant proportion are unable to walk, feed themselves, or communicate with their families the way they could prior to their stroke. Despite this very high number of people who are suffering, there is a large knowledge gap regarding the mechanisms by which neurological recovery occurs, and not a single FDA-approved therapy available to help people recover. There is reason to think that such a therapy might be obtainable – we know that some people, especially younger ones, experience significant recovery after stroke. Animal studies, almost entirely done in young animals, also demonstrate significant recovery after neurological injury. Our goal is thus to better understand the mechanisms that contribute to recovery in the young, and how they are influenced by inflammatory responses. Once we understand this, we hope to be able to develop new therapies to help people’s brains repair themselves.

Katrin Andreasson, PhD
Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences

In our lab, we are interested in understanding the mechanisms by which neuroinflammation elicits synaptic and neuronal injury in chronic and acute models of neurological disease. Our foot in the door has been the study of the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) pathway and its downstream prostaglandin receptor signaling pathways, which function in important ways in modulating the inflammatory response in brain in models of Alzheimer's disease (AD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson's disease (PD), and stroke. Thus this pathway functions across a broad spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases, and may potentially modulate inflammatory responses and neuronal injury via conserved cellular and molecular mechanisms.  We use genetic and pharmacologic strategies as well as in vitro culture approaches to define COX-2/prostaglandin receptor mediated mechanisms of action in eliciting synaptic and neuronal injury in models of human neurological disease.  Our long-term goal is to (1) further understand how neuroinflammatory processes injure synapses and neurons and disrupt circuits,  (2) define the contribution of the COX-2/prostaglandin signaling pathways in this process, and (3) develop therapeutic strategies targeting injurious inflammatory processes in human neurological diseases.

Neurosurgery Stroke Research Labs

Gary K. Steinberg, MD, PhD
Co-Director, Stanford Stroke Center
Chair, Department of Neurosurgery
Director, Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innnovation and Translational Neurosciences
Bernard and Ronni Lacroute-William Randolph Hearst Professor of Neurosurgery and the Neurosciences

Our laboratory is interested in elucidating the mechanisms of brain repair and recovery after stroke with the long term goal of finding novel therapeutic strategies to promote stroke recovery. Brain plasticity and remapping is a key repair process after stroke and we study this at the circuit level using optogenetics, and at the synaptic level using electrophysiology and array tomography. A major focus of our work is to understand how transplanted neural stem cells modulate this brain plasticity, and other repair pathways related to angiogenesis and inflammation, using genetic mouse models, gene profiling, and gene transfer techniques. Identifying the molecular mechanisms of stem cell-mediated brain recovery after stroke will enable us to manipulate the system to optimize stem cell efficacy, and could also lead to the identification of novel drug targets for stroke.

Our clinical research efforts focus on novel approaches for treating intracranial aneurysms, intracranial and spinal vascular malformations, occlusive cerebrovascular disease such as Moyamoya disease and stroke. These include advances in microsurgery, interventional neuroradiology, stereotactic radiosurgery, 3D imaging, surgical navigation, revascularization techniques, the use of mild brain hypothermia and other clinical neuroprotective agents, and neurotransplantation.


Theo Palmer, PhD
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery

Dr. Palmer was recruited in 2000 to help develop a neurotransplantation program at Stanford. He has already developed a national reputation for his scientific expertise in stem cell biology and neurogenesis in the central nervous system. Using molecular biology techniques, his laboratory is studying innovative methods of improving neurologic function after stroke or degenerative disease, including enhanced neurogenesis with growth factors and transplantation of different neuronal stem cells.