Neurology Faculty
Faculty Research

Aaron Bowman, Ph.D.

Dr. Bowman’s research seeks to define the mechanisms at the intersection of environmental and genetic risk factors of neuronal dysfunction and disease. His lab utilizes patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells, neural physiology and metabolism, high throughput screening, mouse models and biochemical approaches to examine gene-environment interactions in neurological and pediatric neurological disease. His work is supported by three RO1 grants focused on the intersection of manganese neurobiology and toxicity in the context of Huntington’s disease (ES016931, PI), early-onset parkinsonism and restless legs syndrome (ES010563, MPI); as well as the selective neurodevelopmental toxicity of methyl mercury (ES07331, MPI). The long-term goals of the lab are to understand disease-relevant environmental vulnerabilities, cellular pathways underlying gene-environment interactions and to develop neuroprotective strategies for neurological diseases with environmental etiologies. Dr. Bowman directs Vanderbilt’s T32 program in environmental toxicology.      

W. Bryan Burnette, M.D., MS

Dr. Burnette’s research focuses on collaborative studies of novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of inherited neuromuscular diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), as well as investigations aimed at understanding disease pathogenesis and genotype-phenotype correlation in DMD and in Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, a group of inherited peripheral nerve disorders.

Robert Carson, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Carson’s research focuses on determining signaling mechanisms which when abnormal, lead to neurodevelopmental defects, epilepsy, white-matter disorders, and autism. The strategy is that by better understanding the mechanisms of childhood neurologic disease, we can better focus a search for cures or ameliorating therapies for serious neurological diseases. The team has developed cell culture and mouse models with disruptions of the Tsc2, PTEN and Rictor genes to differentiate the roles of altered Akt and mTOR signaling on white matter development.  The long-term goal is to investigate signaling mechanisms leading to neurodevelopmental disorders and determine the contribution of oligodendrocytes and myelin abnormalities to epilepsy and autism spectrum disorders.

Kevin Ess, M.D. Ph.D.
Director, Division of Pediatric Neurology

The Ess lab does basic and translational research that impacts neurodevelopmental disorders, especially those that have epilepsy and autism spectrum disorders. They focus on the neurobiology of human stem and progenitor cells and in particular the mechanisms by which neural progenitors make cell fate decisions during development. The human genetic disease tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) has been used as a model system to investigate neural progenitor cell differentiation. An additional focus is on alternating hemiplegia of childhood (AHC). This disorder was recently discovered to be due to mutations in the ATP1A3 gene that encodes a subunit of the sodium potassium ATPase pump. has led to the development of human stem cell models of this disease. Ess Lab website

Cary Fu, M.D.

Dr. Fu’s research interests center around the molecular and cellular mechanisms that lead to altered development and function of cortical interneurons in neurodevelopmental disorders with an increased risk for epilepsy and autism. His lab is currently engaged in studying mouse and cell culture models with interneuron targeted disruption of Tsc2 or Rictor genes to better understand the differential roles of mTORC1 and mTORC2 in interneuron development. Dr. Fu is also a co-investigator in the Rett syndrome and related disorders research program here at Vanderbilt; actively collaborating on clinical trials of disease modifying agents for Rett syndrome as well as the NIH-funded natural history study of Rett syndrome, MECP2 duplication syndrome and other Rett-related disorders.

Lori Jordan M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Pediatric Stroke Program at the Pediatric Neurovascular Center

Dr. Jordan’s clinical research is focused on stroke (both hemorrhagic and ischemic) and cerebrovascular disease in children and young adults with a particular focus on outcome after stroke and sickle cell anemia. Her current major focus is using novel MRI-based imaging techniques in children and young adults with sickle cell anemia to develop methods to assess cerebral hemodynamics and to identify participants at highest risk of stroke or stroke recurrence. Other research areas include neurological complications of congenital heart disease and cognitive function after stroke and chronic brain injury in children. Dr. Jordan is also working to improve methods of outcome measurement for children who have had a stroke. Finally, clinical trials are important to bring new treatments to patients. Dr. Jordan leads the neurology committee and is multiple PI for the NIH-funded Stroke Prevention Trial in Nigeria, focused on using hydroxyurea for primary stroke prevention in Nigerian children with sickle cell anemia. She is also a co-investigator in several national, multi-center studies of childhood stroke.

Lindsay Pagano, M.D.

Dr. Pagano is interested in quality improvement initiatives in child neurology, particularly in critical care and inpatient neurology.

Edwin Trevathan, M.D., MPH

Dr. Trevathan is a child neurologist and epidemiologist. Previously he was Director of the Division of Pediatric and Developmental Neurology at Washington University in St. Louis, Director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dean of the Saint Louis University College for Public Health Public Health and Social Justice. His research interests are focused on global health including the epidemiology of neurological and developmental disorders among children and young adults (e.g., Zika virus associated brain malformations), childhood epilepsy, and global health diplomacy.

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