Research Focus

There are two major projects in the lab. Our first project involves the effects of hormones on trigeminal neurons involved in orofacial pain. We are studying the mechanism of effects of estrogen on trigeminal neurons in rodent models of orofacial pain and in tissue culture models. Our goal is to understand why so many painful disorders including migraine, temporomandibular joint syndrome and fibromyalgia are more common in women and are often linked to the menstrual cycle. Dr. Berman is a regular contributor to articles on menstrual migraine for the American Council of Headache Research and other physician organizations. Our lab is also interested in the role of inflammation in tissue remodeling following brain injury, especially as affected by aging. We work with Drs. Brooks and Lee at the Hoglund Brain Imaging Center to examine how inflammation affects MRI signals after brain injury. In our lab, we study the role of microglia in regulating outcomes of brain injury. During normal aging, these cells become activated, and they increase their responses to injury. Our goal is to understand how the increased inflammatory response may regulate secondary neuron death by activating extrinsic apoptosis pathways. We use behavioral testing, MRI imaging, neuroanatomical and molecular methods to understand how the inflammatory responses to brain injury can alter outcomes.