Faculty Profile: Obenaus, Andre

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Faculty Information Lab Information (Packet Type, Course Title, & Department) Location
Obenaus, Andre
Lab Contact:
Amandine Jullienne
ajullien@uci.edu
949-824-4116
A NEUROLOGICAL INJURY
Department: Pediatrics
Hewitt Hall 2nd Floor

Research Description

The Obenaus Laboratory has undertaken research over the years, focused on the underlying mechanisms responsible for human neurological disease, specifically traumatic brain injury (TBI), stroke and epilepsy. These neurological injury types constitute upwards of ~70% of all brain injuries and research into these areas represents a great need with many unanswered questions. More recently we have also begun work with animal models of Alzheimer’s Disease. Ongoing and future research in my laboratory continues to advance research into the underlying physiological basis of these diseases including evaluation of putative therapies.
The Obenaus Laboratory utilizes a variety of methods to assess physiological function, such as magnetic resonance imaging, histology, electrophysiology and microscopy techniques. Students will be exposed all of these methods depending upon their interests and skill levels.
Epilepsy is a very devastating disease where many patients cannot be treated using the current range of pharmacological interventions. The Laboratory has been interested in using non-invasive methods (neuroimaging) in part due to its clinical relevance. We have published using MRI to identify brain regions at risk for subsequent cell death after epilepsy, including the ability to differentiate between neuronal and glial populations within regions of the brain that are vulnerable to seizure induced injury. More recently, we have published for the very first time a unique and predictive MR based biomarker in an animal model of febrile seizures which is capable of predicting which animals will go on to have long term epilepsy. This finding is now being tested in clinical pediatric patients. The vascular system is integral to may changes in the brain following epilepsy and we are currently investigating its role in the consequences of seizures.
Stroke and hypoxic ischemic injury (HII) in the adult and neonate, respectively, result in debilitating and long-term neurological decrements, for which very limited treatments are available. The Obenaus Laboratory has and is still focused on two primary areas: a) evaluation of novel compounds that reduce infarct size and improve outcomes following stroke, and b) use of stem cells to ameliorate neonatal HII. We have numerous publications investigating a series of potential therapies related to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and its derivatives in mitigating infarct volumes using primarily MRI and histology. In other funded research we have explored the link between inflammation early in development the susceptibility to stroke later in life, again linking vascular abnormalities to stroke sensitivity.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI), a key third research interest, has emerged as a signature brain injury in recent military campaigns and in sports injuries. The Laboratory has shown that utilizing hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy to superfuse oxygen into tissues provides a measure of neuroprotection. Using neuroimaging we have now shown that white matter decrements are altered following even mild TBI in both pediatric and adult injury with diffusion tensor MRI. Using MRI metrics along with electron microscopy we clearly demonstrated that even in mTBI there are significant decrements in the white matter that are progressive over the long-term suggesting that these alterations could be the basis for the appearance of neuropsychological and neuropsychiatric abnormalities that are known to appear late after mTBI. We also recently published on a mouse model that confirmed the appearance of depression late after mild TBI. More recently, the Laboratory has made significant efforts to to investigate common mechanisms of vascular injury and repair between TBI, subarachnoid hemorrhage and intra-cerebral hemorrhage. To assess vascular repair, we have developed a very novel method for staining the vasculature to investigate vascular injury and repair. Moreover, we have identified a novel molecular pathway responsible for new vessel growth and recovery after TBI.
Fragmented Maternal Care is collaborative work with TZ Baram (UCI) investigates the alterations in the brain of offspring whose dams have had limited bedding. Using MRI the Laboratory was able to show reductions in hippocampal volumes, and altered hippocampal pyramidal cell layer diffusion tensor (DTI) measures that were validated by histological demonstration of decreased dendritic arborization. We are actively continuing these studies in using DTI to measure altered connections in the brain.

Requirements to Participate

Commitment for minimum of 10-12 hours per week, minimum of 3hr blocks.
Computer use experience a plus, able to use microsoft word and excel proficiently.
Able to work with biological tissues as needed. 1 year Commitment.

Faculty Means of Evaluation

Attendance: 20Pts (working assigned hours, being on time)
Lab Work: 40Pts (quality, accuracy, integrated.synthesis of information and safety)
Communication: 20Pts (Written/Oral reports, questions and discussion with mentor)
Lab citizenship: 20Pts (organization, clean up and follow through)
Total: 100 points