Pediatric Neurosciences Research


At Children's we know that there is a symbiotic relationship between research and advancing clinical care. We are committed to collaborating with other institutions to initiative and conduct research to discover preventative, diagnostic and wellness strategies for children with serious medical illnesses or challenges.


    Our team is dedicated to finding cures for pediatric neurological diseases. In 2012, we launched the Children’s Center for Neurosciences Research in collaboration with Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology and the Morehouse School of Medicine. Learn more.

  • Brain Tumor

    Migrating Tumor Cells with Nanotechnology

    Barun Brahma, M.D.Tobey MacDonald, M.D. and researchers from Georgia Tech and Emory University published ground-breaking brain tumor research in Nature. This new treatment approach uses nanotechnology to direct tumor cells outside of the brain where they can be captured and killed. Learn more.
    • In 2010, the EUREKA grant was awarded to the Georgia Institue of Technology to enable the design of a treatment for brain tumors that would direct moving tumor cells through a scaffold to a sink, located on the brain’s surface beneath the dura, which would contain a drug to kill the cells. Barun Brahma, M.D.Tobey MacDonald, M.D., and Ravi Bellamkonda, Ph.D. (Georgia Tech) collaborated on this research using nanomedicine to trap the migrating cells in brain tumors.
    • Peds Winter 2010 issue features the article "Brain Exvaders," which discusses the novel bioengineering solution aimed at pediatric brain tumors.
    • Reporter Newspapers interview Children's neurosurgeon, Dr. Brahma, about the exciting new research to remove brain tumors involving teams from Children's, Georgia Tech and Emory University School of Medicine.

    Stem Cells
    Tracy-Ann Read, Ph.D., Research Scientist, is studying medulloblastoma and cancer stem cells in the central nervous system, in conjunction with Emory Department of Neurosurgery.

    Brain Tumor Staining 
    Barun Brahma, M.D., Pediatric Neurosurgeon, and Ravi Bellamkonda, Ph.D. (Georgia Tech) are conducting a donor funded research study to use nano-technology to better assist surgeons in distinguishing brain tumors form healthy brain tissue. Learn more.

    Drug Therapy
    Tobey MacDonald, M.D., Director, Neuro-Oncology Program, is leading a study to develop a drug therapy to stop the spread of medulloblastoma as an alternative to radiation therapy.

    Traumatic Brain Injury

    Emory University/Georgia Institute of Technology Grant - An investigation of coagulopathy after sever traumatic brain injury in children with emphasis on the role of platelet dysfunction. Investigators: Andrew Reisner, M.D., Jeanne Hendrickson, Joshua J. Chern, M.D., Ph.D., Silvia Bunting, M.D. et al.


Cognitive Remediation
We are currently examining the effectiveness of our cognitive remediation program by pre- and post-testing patients who have received cognitive remediation and evaluating the engagement of parents as a moderating variable.

Neurodevelopmental Issues Associated with Congenital Heart Disease
The team is analyzing one- and two-year old neurodevelopmental follow-up in children with congenital heart disease (CHD) to look at inflammatory markers related to brain injury pre- and post-open heart surgery.

We are also collecting comprehensive neuropsychological test results using a standardized core battery from nearly all cardiac transplant and CHD children/adolescents to explore school-age and adolescent outcomes. We are also looking at the cognitive effects of CHD in an fMRI and DTI study.

We are also comparing concussed athletes with normal controls to assess advanced neuroimaging techniques as it pertains to return-to-play decisions.

In an additional concussion study, We are using a computerized test of neurocognitive functioning (CNS Vital Signs) to look at pediatric concussion at various times following concussion.

We are currently monitoring and tracking recovery as well as identifying predictors of outcomes for patients who have sustained a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) during inpatient rehabilitation. 

We are also collecting data to examine the neurocognitive profile of children with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. Our goal is to characterize the nature of cognitive deficits following initial diagnosis and treatment, identify predicators of outcome and investigate the trajectory of recovery during the initial years following diagnosis.

Neurodevelopmental Issues Associated with Premature Birth
We are assessing infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), who have been diagnosed with a neurological condition (cerebral palsy or stroke for example) and will be following these children during early childhood to assess developmental trajectories and aid in the identification of at-risk infants.

  • Spinal Cord Injury
    Research is currently underway with the Georgia Institute of Technology to decrease secondary injury due to spinal cord injury.

    Inside-outside occipital bolt in place of halos for children who require occipitocervical fusion
    Halos are an important part of the immobilization process, but they are difficult for pediatric patients. David Wrubel, M.D., and Dr. Brahma performed the first study to focus on the use of inside-outside occipital screws in children (including patients under 4) to avoid the use of halo orthosis. Our neurosurgeons found the screws to be a useful part of occipitocervical instrumentation in patients 2 to 15 years. This instrumentation has a higher pullout strength with a greater degree of immobilization, which limits the need for halo orthosis.