Our research goal is to understand the long-term consequences of head injuries and how internal and external factors contribute to incidence, recovery, and outcomes.

Research Projects:

What are the long-term consequences of repetitive head impacts in former American football players?

Exposure to repetitive head impacts brought about by contact sports has been associated with neurological disorders, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

American football players are among those who play contact sports and are at higher risk for developing CTE given their extensive exposure to repetitive head impacts. Although the neuropathological features of CTE, at postmortem, are well established, there are as of yet no in vivo biomarkers.

Our research seeks to understand:
The neural presentations of repetitive head impacts exposure and whether they mirror those of neuropathologically confirmed cases of CTE.
To understand what biological and/or exposure factors contribute to these changes.
To understand how neural presentations associated with repetitive head impacts are associated with clinical features associated with CTE.

How do social determinants of health and health disparities contribute to head injury incidence, recovery, and outcomes?

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) represent a significant global health concern, affecting millions of individuals annually.

TBI varies in intensity, spanning from mild to severe, resulting in both physical and cognitive alterations that can significantly impact various aspects of daily life. Given the widespread occurrence of TBI in the United States and worldwide, our research is directed towards comprehending the intricate relationship between social determinants of health (SDH) and health disparities (HD) and their implications for TBI incidence, recovery, and outcomes. Additionally, our focus extends to understanding how SDH and HD contribute to the enduring consequences of repetitive head impacts in contact collision sport athletes, a population at heightened risk for developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Our research seeks to understand:
Identifying the most prevalent SDH and HD factors observed in TBI cases, encompassing the entire spectrum of injury severity.
Investigating the impact of SDH and HD on the recovery process and overall outcomes following a TBI.
Analyzing the role of SDH and HD in the development of neurodegenerative aspects associated with CTE in contact collision sport athletes.

What are the consequences of head injuries during and after pregnancy to both the parent and fetus?

Women are largely understudied in traumatic brain injury (TBI) research across the spectrum of injury severity.

It is estimated that approximately one-third of women worldwide experience physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence during their lifetime. Injuries experienced during these violent events can lead to a single occurrence of TBI or continuous exposure to repetitive head impacts. Exogenous administration of estrogens and progesterone acts as a neuroprotective factor after TBI in both women and men. In women, however, it may be the case that hormonal variations in estrogens and progesterone within menstrual cycle phases may influence recovery processes following head injury.

Nonetheless, little is known about this field of work, as well as in other aspects of a woman’s life where hormonal fluctuations occur, such as during pregnancy when levels of estrogens and progesterone peak up to fourfold. Given the substantial research gap concerning women’s health and head injury, our laboratory is dedicated to delving into the implications of head injuries during pregnancy, an area that is even less understood.

Our research seeks to understand:
The etiology of injury during pregnancy.
What pregnancy-related complications are experienced following head injury?
What clinical factors following injury are commonly experienced during pregnancy and post-birth?
What are the consequences of the parents TBI to the fetus during pregnancy and after birth?

How we do it:


In our lab, we use advanced neuroimaging techniques, including structural and functional MRI, diffusion MRI, and spectroscopy, to comprehensively study head injuries. Our research goes beyond anatomy, examining microstructural, functional, and metabolic aspects. We also employ cutting-edge post-processing tools like shape analysis, sulcal morphology, tractography, free water imaging, and graph theory to capture subtle brain changes.

Human Behavior

Our lab uses basic scientific approaches that aim to unravel the intricacies of human behavior. Cognitive function encompasses a diverse range of mental processes, including memory, attention, perception, problem-solving, and decision-making. Here, we employ a variety of methodologies to delve into these cognitive phenomena.

Neuropsychological and Neuropsychiatric Assessments

Our research combines neuropsychological and neuropsychiatric assessments to comprehensively understand the cognitive and emotional aspects of various conditions and disorders. The former examines cognitive functions, while the latter focuses on emotional well-being, providing a holistic perspective on our research subjects.

Epidemiological Approaches

In our traumatic brain injury epidemiological research, we employ data analysis, statistical modeling, and surveillance techniques to explore how social determinants of health and health disparities influence the prevalence, risk factors, and dynamics of head injuries in diverse populations.