Welcome to BIDMC Neurology

R25 Program BIDMC Neurology Training Program

The Neurology Departments at BIDMC and Children’s Hospital participate in the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke R25 program, which allows selected residents in selected programs to take a six month block of time for research during their residency and then provides up to two years of postdoctoral fellowship time to do research after residency. We have had an average of 2-4 residents per year from the adult and pediatric programs compete for these fellowships, and about 80% of them have been chosen to receive them (compared to a national average of about 50%).

The R25 program supports work that can be either basic laboratory or human-based experimental studies. All residents receive information about the program during their PGY2 year, and those who are interested are encouraged to choose a mentor and under the guidance of that mentor and the program leadership prepare a brief written application during the summer of their PGY3 year. The applications are sent in during the following Fall, and the announcements of awards are made in the following Spring. Successful R25 residents then plan a block of six months of research time during their PGY4 year.

Past R25 fellows from our program have been successful in achieving K08 awards and are now faculty members at Harvard and at universities around the country


Alana Kirby

R25 awarded 2016-2018
Title: Role of the dorsomedial medulla in temporal modulation of gait.
Mentor: Veronique VanDerHorst, MD, Ph.D

We plan to investigate the function of two promising populations of neurons in the dorsomedial medulla on temporal modulation of gait using novel techniques of gait-triggered optogenetic excitation as well as optogenetic silencing in a mouse model. This knowledge will advance translational efforts to develop powerful therapies for humans with gait disorders, such as Freezing of Gait or festination.

Vaishnav_Krishnan06301_fmtVaishnav Krishnan

R25 awarded 2013-2015
Title: The Role of Ube3a in the Behavioral Consequences of Seizures in Autism
Mentor: Matthew Anderson, MD, Ph.D

Epilepsy and autism spectrum disorder share a complex etiopathophysiological relationship which remains poorly understood. This proposal served to explore the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the long term deleterious effects of recurrent seizures on social behavior, as measured in laboratory mice. We have discovered an important role for seizure-induced neuroadaptations in midbrain regions, providing a pathway for pharmacological or genetic avenues for therapeutic intervention.

Nigel Pedersen

R25 awarded 2012-2014.
Title: Genetic Manipulation of the Hypothalamic Arousal System
Mentors: Clifford B. Saper, MD, PhD and Patrick M. Fuller, PhD

The caudal hypothalamus has been an hypothesized part of the ascending arousal system for more than a century. In this project, the supramammillary nucleus was found to be responsible for this effect. Activation of glumatergic neurons of this region potently promoted wakefulness after selective activation using a designer receptor exclusively activated by designer drug (DREADD) technique. In addition to producing behavioral wakefulness, activation of these neurons resulted in sustained activation Furthermore, activation of these neurons resulted in sustained activation of both the cerebral cortex and hippocampus; inactivation resulted in drowsiness. This neuronal population is a strong candidate for the long-sought wake-promoting caudal hypothalamic cell group.

Joel Geerling

R25 awarded 2012 (For 2013-2015)
Title: Identifying wake-promoting neurons in the pons: an optogenetic approach.
Mentor: Tom Scammell, MD

The dorsolateral pontine tegmentum, where it merges into the midbrain reticular formation, is the most important region of the central nervous system for maintaining arousal. Even small lesions within this critical region often cause coma. This region contains many different populations of neurons, with a wide variety of functions, most of them unrelated to coma or arousal. Our goal is to combine genetic, anatomic, and physiologic approaches in awake, behaving mice to identify and characterize specifically those neurons in this complex region that are necessary for conscious wakefulness.

Soma Sengupta

R25 awarded 2011
Title: Leveraging a5-GABA-A receptor subunit (GABRA5) expression in clinically aggressive medulloblastomas as a novel therapeutic approach
Mentors: Scott Pomeroy, MD, PhD and Frances Jensen, MD