The Neurosciences Research Center at Cook Children’s, supported by the Dodson Neuro Research Endowment, celebrates two years as of October 2021. Despite challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the program, directed by Christos Papadelis, Ph.D., has made tremendous strides in this time. The center attracted bright minds from all over the world and now includes 16 research staff: two principal investigators, two postdoctoral researchers, one program manager, two research assistants and numerous graduate and undergraduate students. The research center established close collaborations with academic institutions including the University of Texas at Arlington and the School of Medicine at Texas Christian University and University of North Texas Health Science Center. The center features innovative research on advanced pediatric neuroimaging with the main focus on epilepsy and movement disorders. The team makes use of unique technologies in the field including:
- Simultaneous recordings of magnetoencephalography (MEG) and high-density electroencephalography (EEG), which measure the magnetic and electric activity generated by the human brain using > 500 sensors
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a technique that non-invasively stimulates human brain areas with a strong magnetic field for mapping motor and language areas
- Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a magnetic resonance imaging method that tracks the neural fibers inside the child’s brain
- Robotic-assisted-rehabilitation, a treatment method that improves the motor skills of children with movement’s disorders
By using these advanced imaging techniques, the research team has already collected data from > 50 typically developing children and > 50 children with epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Based on the data, the neurosciences research team published 43 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, a five-fold increase from the previous years. In 14 of these articles, Cook Children’s is the lead investigator group, an indicator that this young program now leads research at a national and international level rather than simply participating as a collaboration site. However, collaboration remains central to our success with several studies ongoing in collaboration with top-tier academic institutions in the country as well as abroad, such as Boston Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School, and the Hospital for Sick Children affiliated with the University of Toronto.
Cook Children’s Medical Director of Neurology, Scott Perry, M.D., served as guest editor for a special issue of Seminars in Pediatric Neurology focused on epilepsy surgery – an issue including authors from over 20 U.S. pediatric epilepsy centers that collaborate on the Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery Database project that he leads. The Neurosciences Research team has also presented numerous posters and more than 10 invitational talks at scientific conferences, such as the American Epilepsy Society, the Child Neurology Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The center has been awarded five research grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, and the Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation.
Finally, the team finishes the year with a strong showing at the American Epilepsy Society annual meeting with 25 accepted abstracts, two platform presentations, and two Ph.D. students from the research center being awarded young investigator awards. The team is excited for the future of neurosciences research at Cook Children’s after these initial two years. In the near future, the group plans to expand areas of research to include work with the neonatal and pediatric intensive care units as well as children suffering from mental health disorders.
Christos Papadelis, PhD
Director of Research
Great outcomes begin with great input. Having a medical system where every department, doctor, and care team member works together means that your child can have quick access to testing, diagnosis and treatment, and that means better outcomes now and in the future.
Contact the Jane and John Justin Neuroscience Center at Cook Children’s to refer a patient or ask questions: 682-885-2500.