Research

We use neurostimulation as a means to study the nervous system and to treat disorders in which the nervous system is affected or implicated.

We use methods from neurophysiology, autonomic, cardiovascular and metabolic physiology, neuroanatomy and neural engineering to study the neural circuits and mechanisms of autonomic control in health and disease, to interface neural recording and stimulation devices with the central and the peripheral nervous system in a responsive and adaptive manner, and to deliver precision neuromodulation therapies to treat disorders of the nervous system, heart and vessels, metabolism, immune system and other organ systems.

Most of our research falls under the following focus areas:

(a) Neural circuits and mechanisms for autonomic control

We study the mechanisms, fiber types and neural circuits by which the autonomic nervous system informs the brain about the status of peripheral organs and systems, and exerts control over them. We use anatomical techniques to map the peripheral and central neural circuits responsible for these functions and to track how these circuits are altered by disease. We use physiological, electrophysiological, optical and genetic methods to understand neural activity related to autonomic function in the nerves themselves, the ganglia and the brain and to study how nerve stimulation affects the brain and the organs to which the nerves project.

(b) Neural plasticity

We develop in vivo paradigms for induction and control of neural activity-dependent synaptic plasticity in the nervous system. These paradigms rely on detection of neural and physiological activity with appropriate probes and hardware and contingent delivery of activity-dependent neurostimulation in real time. We induce plasticity by directly stimulating the cells that are synaptically-connected, and by delivering neuromodulators to those cells, either pharmacologically or electrically, e.g. by vagus nerve stimulation. We use these paradigms to control neural plasticity and "re-sculpt" the circuits that have undergone maladaptive changes in neural, autonomic, metabolic and cardiovascular disorders.

(c) Responsive & adaptive neuromodulation

We develop techniques and technologies for responsive and adaptive neuromodulation of central and peripheral neural systems. "Responsive" means that neurostimulation is delivered upon the occurrence of certain physiological events or states of the system or the organism. "Adaptive" means that neurostimulation is optimized in real time with regards to its physiological and/or neurological effects, by adjusting its parameters on the fly to maximize effectiveness and minimize side effects. We use special surgical methods, probes and stimulation techniques to selectively activate organ systems, nerves and nerve fibers. We develop and deploy recording and stimulation systems, both rack-mounted and implantable, to interface with the nervous system in real time, in a bidirectional manner.

(d) Bioelectronic therapies

We test neurostimulation-based, bioelectronic therapies in preclinical models of disease. We develop and study diseases in different small and large animal models, each of which has unique advantages and limitations in the translation process. We design our experiments so that what we learn from earlier models is directly transferable to later models, and ultimately to human clinical applications. Such therapies will be tested in clinical trials, in collaboration with clinical teams at Northwell Health.