Welcome to BIDMC Neurology

R25 Program BIDMC Neurology Training Program

The Neurology Departments at BIDMC and Boston Children’s Hospital participate in the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke R25 program. This program is designed to foster the careers of clinician-researchers, by enabling residents to take a six month block of time for research during their residency and providing up to two years funding to do research after residency. For residents eager to combine research with clinical care, this is a superb opportunity that substantially increases the likelihood of launching a successful academic career.

The R25 program supports both basic laboratory and human-based research. During the PGY2 year, the resident develops a research plan with a faculty mentor, and then each application is reviewed by additional senior faculty to provide early, substantive opportunities for improvement. Applications are due in the Fall of PGY3, and awards are announced the following Spring. Successful R25 residents then plan a block of six months research time during the first or second half of their PGY4 year. Trainees are also encouraged to take courses in neuroscience, statistics, public health, and clinical translational science at Harvard, depending on their career goals.

Our residents have been very successful in obtaining R25 funding. Each year, 2-4 residents from our adult and pediatric programs apply for these fellowships, and over 80% have been funded, a much higher success rate than the national average of about 50%. Specifically, in the last several years, 19 residents have applied from our programs, and 16 have been funded.

Past R25 fellows from our program have been successful in obtaining NIH K08 grants plus additional grants and are now thriving as faculty at Harvard and at other universities around the country.

Recent BIDMC R25 Recipients

Chris Cano

R25 awarded 2019-2021
Title: Measuring orexin tone in vivo
Mentor: Tom Scammell, MD

The orexin (hypocretin) neuropeptides play a central role in regulating wakefulness and REM sleep, and loss of the orexin-producing neurons results in narcolepsy. Since the discovery of orexins 20 years ago, researchers have published nearly 5,000 papers on the orexin system, yet we have little understanding of just when the orexin neuropeptides are released and for how long they increase the activity of neurons bearing the orexin receptors. Dr. Cano will use cell-based neurotransmitter fluorescent engineered (CNiFER) cells to define the kinetics of orexin signaling especially in relation to variations in sleep/wake regulation, attention and reward.

Alana Kirby

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

Dr. Kirby investigated the function of two 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 advanced translational efforts to develop powerful therapies for humans with gait disorders, such as freezing of gait or festination.

Vaishnav 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. Dr. Krishnan explored the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the long term deleterious effects of recurrent seizures on social behavior, as measured in laboratory mice. He discovered an important role for seizure-induced neuroadaptations in midbrain regions, providing a pathway for pharmacological or genetic avenues for therapeutic intervention. This work was published in Nature and led to a K08 grant.

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

In the course of his R25 project, Dr. Pedersen discovered that the supramammillary nucleus is a crucial part of the ascending arousal system for more than a century. He found that 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, activation of these neurons resulted in sustained activation of both the cerebral cortex and hippocampus, whereas inactivation resulted in drowsiness. This work was published in Nature Communications and led to a K08 grant.

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 a crucial for maintaining arousal as 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. Dr. Geerling combined 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. This work led to a K08 grant and papers in Neurology and Annals of Neurology.

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

The dorsolateral pontine tegmentum, where it merges into the midbrain reticular formation, is a crucial for maintaining arousal as 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. Dr. Geerling combined 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. This work led to a K08 grant and papers in Neurology and Annals of Neurology.