Douglas h. smith, m.d.
Director, Penn Center for Brain Injury and Repair
Robert A. Groff Professor of Neurosurgery
Vice-Chairman for Research & Education, Department of Neurosurgery
Douglas H. Smith serves as Director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair (CBIR) and is the Robert A. Groff Endowed Professor and Vice Chairman for Research and Education in Neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania. Penn's multidisciplined CBIR includes over twenty-five principal investigators and their laboratory staff collectively studying mechanisms, diagnosis and potential treatments of traumatic brain injury. Dr. Smith is also director of a multi-center U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) program grant on mild traumatic brain injury and oversees an NIH brain injury training grant. Over the last 20 years, Dr. Smith has devoted his full-time efforts to neurotrauma research following completion of fellowships in both molecular biology and neurotrauma at the University of Connecticut. His laboratory investigates the effects of mechanical stretch of axons that results in either damage or growth. They have found that rapid stretch during brain trauma selectively injures axons in the white matter. In turn, aberrant accumulation of proteins in the damaged axons can lead to pathologic changes similar to those found in Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, Dr. Smith’s laboratory has also recently discovered that slow continuous stretching of axon tracts in culture can stimulate enormous growth, creating transplantable living nervous tissue constructs. These tissue engineered constructs have shown promise for repairing large lesions in the nervous system. These collective efforts have resulted in over 150 published reports.