My main research focus is on identifying environmental and behavioral variables that contribute to neuroprotection or neurodegeneration following traumatic brain injury (particularly injuries that occur early in development). My work (with Dr. Zachary Weil) has begun to identify mechanisms by which mild early life injuries in mice increase vulnerability to long-term consequences such as altered brain metabolism drug/alcohol abuse later in life, as well as reduced capacity for CNS recovery following additional injuries. As a corollary to this work, we have recently begun work to identify potential neuroprotective measures following early life brain injuries. Standard clinical practice for traumatic brain injury typically involves a period of physical and/or cognitive rest until symptom resolution; however, 1) there is little scientific basis for this approach, indeed recent work has shown that this period of rest does little to promote recovery, and 2) symptom resolution is not a good measure of CNS recovery. In direct contrast to the clinical recommendation, it is well established in both basic and clinical research that exercise is profoundly neuroprotective in brain injury, stroke, cardiac arrest, and other forms of CNS injury. Thus, in order to counter the dogma of post-injury rest, we are working to identify 1) the optimal intensity and timing of exercise that promotes recovery after brain injury and 2) the mechanism by which exercise improves cognitive and functional outcomes in mice with brain injury.
Updated CV can be accessed here
A link to ResearchGate page can be accessed here
/ Kate Karelina Weil, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
WVU Department of Neuroscience
Office phone: 304-293-1485