Welcome to BIDMC Neurology

Research at BIDMC

Residency at BIDMC is about discovery. Bright and curious minds cannot be constrained by what is already known; they find that residency is a continuous series of presentations of clinical mysteries that need to be solved, many of which do not have easy or available solutions.

We encourage our residents to discover their interests and talents, and to discover how the nervous system works, what goes wrong in neurological disease, and what we can do to improve the outlook for our patients. Our faculty are developing many of those solutions, and they welcome our residents as colleagues to join them on these voyages of discovery. Most of our residents choose to participate in a research project of their choice during their residency, and they present their results at our annual Resident Research Day. Faculty at BIDMC work on research problems in all subspecialties of neurology. Research themes range from single ion channels to the circuits that regulate behavior to the implementation of new therapies for patients. We have more than a dozen basic science research laboratories, investigating fields from Parkinson’s disease to epilepsy, sleep to autism, and brain tumors to peripheral neuropathies to stroke pathophysiology. In addition, our patients inspire robust clinical research programs in cognitive neuroscience, neuroimaging, neuropsychology, and non-invasive brain stimulation, autonomic physiology, muscle pathophysiology, and sleep physiology. As a clinical department, we have human-based research programs focusing on autism, Alzheimer’s disease, fronto-temporal dementia, memory disorders, stroke prevention, recovery from stroke, concussion, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Spinocerebellar Ataxia, ALS, peripheral neuropathies, autonomic disorders, epilepsy, brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, headache, and sleep disorders. In addition, the strengths of basic and clinical research approaches are being combined into several innovative translational research lines. The total NIH support for research in our Neurology Department in 2021 was $18,300,000, comparable to large neurology departments of entire universities (e.g., Cornell, Emory). Boston Children’s Hospital has a similarly outstanding level of support. To make these research opportunities easily accessible to our Neurology residents, we have a R25 program that has enabled over a dozen of our neurology residents to conduct postdoctoral research training during and after their residencies, helping launch their careers as successful physician-researchers.

A section through the sacral spinal cord of a patient with Parkinson’s disease. Brown staining for alpha-synuclein is found in the lateral surface of the dorsal horn, which contains the pathways for bladder control.

Current research opportunities include:

NeuroNEXT The Network for Excellence in Neuroscience Clinical Trials, or NeuroNEXT, is a National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke-funded clinical trials network of 25 sites across the United States (see www.NeuroNEXT.org). Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Boston Children’s Hospital together serve as a single clinical site, supporting clinical trials in therapy and biomarker studies across the neurological disease spectrum. This network provides infrastructural support to help investigator-initiated clinical studies succeed. Our site also offers two funded training slots yearly to advanced fellows or junior faculty to support skill development and education in clinical trials research. C/T Academy The clinical-translational academy (C/T academy), offered through the Harvard Catalyst Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA), offers a program to newly-minted fellows geared toward training in clinical translational research. In addition to a dedicated biostatistical course over the first summer, the program offers ongoing opportunities to learn about the intricacies and challenges of pursuing clinical research, with the ultimate goal of strengthening individuals to become more effective researchers. Weekly seminars are supplemented by a variety of other activities, including visits to the Food and Drug Administration and local biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Additional seminars are also held in conjunction with the KL2/CMeRIT Program below. KL2/CMeRIT Program This program, which is part of the broader Harvard Catalyst Clinical Translational Science Award, funded by the National Institutes of Health, supports training of advanced fellows and junior faculty in investigator-initiated translational research. Applications are typically submitted in the spring and awards made during the summer. In addition to providing 50-75% salary support, these awards offer a structured educational environment, including ongoing mentoring and opportunities to present their research to colleagues and input on preparing K-awards. Some of the sessions also occur in conjunction with the C/T academy offerings described above.

Neurons in the human locus coeruleus (brown, stained for tyrosine hydroxylase) are heavily innervated by axons and nerve terminals containing orexin (black boutons on soma and dendrites). In narcolepsy, the orexin-producing neurons are killed by an autoimmune process, and loss of their excitatory signals to the locus coeruleus and other brain regions results in sleepiness and poor control of REM sleep.

Harvard Catalyst Educational Offerings

As a clinical-translational “hub” for the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) at Harvard University, BIDMC residents, fellows and faculty are eligible to apply for educational offerings https://catalyst.harvard.edu/train/ that include biostatistics courses, IRB learning opportunities, grant-writing workshops, and more. These offerings are ideal to utilize in career development plans, and there is a wide variety to choose from to tailor to a number of research methodologies and approaches.

The Clinical Research Center

State-of-the art laboratories at the Center for Life Science Boston.

The Clinical Research Center (CRC) at BIDMC is part of the Harvard Catalyst Connector system, https://catalyst.harvard.edu/programs/connector/sites.html, and provides a space and personnel that support the Clinical-Translational research mission.

The Clinical Research Center with support from Harvard Catalyst also offers a host of services, for all investigators. Through the CRC, faculty can access consultations to guide access to research resources and support, including research assistant time for projects, nurse project management support, research design and IRB navigation. Several Neurology investigators use the rooms that are outfitted for sleep or 24 hour monitoring of physiological parameters during sleep and wakefulness. The CRC has 9 beds, 3 infusion chairs, and other examination rooms and specialized testing set-ups including a motion lab, a transcranial magnetic stimulation lab, PSG and EEG recording set-ups, ambulatory blood pressure and ECG systems. There is a wet-lab for specimen processing fully equipped with refrigerated centrifuges and -80 Fahrenheit freezers. The CRC also has a metabolic kitchen that enables investigators to include specialized meals in their protocols, and to perform quantification of dietary intake. Nursing, medical assistants for research, lab technicians, and sleep technologists are available to support the research efforts of investigators at BIDMC, with a special focus on early career investigators.

Grant pre-review sessions

Unique to our Department of Neurology, our grant pre-review sessions offer advanced fellows, postdocs, and junior faculty the opportunity to obtain peer input on potential grant applications prior to submission to improve their likelihood of funding. These sessions are lively after-hours events, offering food and beverage, in which ideas are floated, friendly criticism offered, and where everyone learns new tricks to successful funding. Interested residents are welcome to attend as well.

If you’re interested in more detailed information about our research, please visit:

Meet Some of Our Researchers