Akiva S. Cohen, PhD

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Research Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care
Department: Anesthesiology and Critical Care
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine
3401 Civic Center Boulevard
Abramson Research Center, Room 816-H
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4399
Office: (215) 590-1472
Fax: (267) 426-5165
BS (Microbiology)
University of Maryland College Park, 1985.
MS (Zoology)
University of Maryland College Park, 1989.
PhD (Biophysics)
University of Maryland School of Medicine, 1994.
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Description of Research Expertise

Head Injury, Hippocampus, Cognitive Impairment

Injury-induced altered brain excitability, circuit rearrangement and synaptic function

Intracellular and extracellular recording, whole-cell patch-clamp recording, immunocytochemistry, biochemistry and calcium fluorescence. Visualized and blind in vitro recording techniques. Electrophysiologic recording in neuronal cultures as well as cell lines and conditioned fear response behavior.

Our principal research interest is focused on the fundamental cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie cognitive impairments associated with traumatic brain injury. We are primarily concerned with alterations in neuronal excitability in the limbic system of the brain. This system has been shown to play a primary role in higher cognitive function e.g. learning and memory and is damaged in traumatic brain injury. We incorporate a variety of techniques to understand the nature and functional consequences of injury-induced alterations.

Our studies begin with conditioned fear response behavior to assess cognitive impairments and extracellular recording to evaluate injured hippocampal function. Unbiased stereology is then used to quantify the degree of cell death. Excitatory and inhibitory synaptic recording is utilized to further determine the function of surviving neurons. Immunocytochemical and biochemical techniques are used to examine specific proteins that have been altered by injury and may be underlying synaptic and/or circuit dysfunction. The combination of these methodologies should help elucidate putative mechanisms causing injury-induced cognitive deficits. A better understanding of these injury-induced alterations will provide insight for directing the development of potential therapies that would ameliorate cognitive dysfunction in traumatic brain injured patients.

Selected Publications

Harris JP, Mietus CJ, Browne KD, Wofford KL, Keating CE, Brown DP, Johnson BN, Wolf JA, Smith DH, Cohen AS, Duda JE, Cullen DK.: Neuronal somatic plasmalemmal permeability and dendritic beading caused by head rotational traumatic brain injury in pigs-An exploratory study. Front Cell Neurosci 17: 1055455, Jul 2023.

Somach RT, Jean I, Farrugia A, Cohen AS.: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Affects Orexin/Hypocretin Physiology Differently in Male and Female Mice. J Neurotrauma Jul 2023.

Xiong G, Metheny H, Hood K, Jean I, Farrugia AM, Johnson BN, Tummala SR, Cohen NA, Cohen AS.: Detection and verification of neurodegeneration after traumatic brain injury in the mouse: Immunohistochemical staining for amyloid precursor protein. Brain Pathol May 2023.

Farrugia AM, Delcy SAS, Johnson BN, Cohen AS.: Maintenance of a Lateral Fluid Percussion Injury Device. J Vis Exp (194, Apr 2023.

Best KM, Mojena MM, Barr GA, Schmidt HD, Cohen AS.: Endogenous Opioid Dynorphin Is a Potential Link between Traumatic Brain Injury, Chronic Pain, and Substance Use Disorder. J Neurotrauma May 2022.

Elliott JE, Keil AT, Mithani S, Gill JM, O'Neil ME, Cohen AS, Lim MM.: Dietary Supplementation With Branched Chain Amino Acids to Improve Sleep in Veterans With Traumatic Brain Injury: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Pilot and Feasibility Trial. Front Syst Neurosci 16: 854874, May 2022.

Mao S, Xiong G, Johnson BN, Cohen NA, Cohen AS: Blocking Cross-Species Secondary Binding When Performing Double Immunostaining With Mouse and Rat Primary Antibodies. Front Neurosci 15: 579859, May 2021 Notes: eCollection 2021.

White BR, Padawer-Curry JA, Ko T, Baker W, Breimann J, Cohen AS, Licht DJ, Yodh AG: Wavelength censoring for spectroscopy in optical functional neuroimaging. Phys Med Biol 66: 065026, March 2021.

Folweiler KA, Xiong G, Best KM, Metheny HE, Nah G, Cohen AS: Traumatic Brain Injury Diminishes Feedforward Activation of Parvalbumin-Expressing Interneurons in the Dentate Gyrus. eNeuro 7(6): ENEURO.0195-19.2020, November 2020.

Folweiler KA, Sandsmark DK, Diaz-Arrastia R, Cohen AS, Masino AJ: Unsupervised Machine Learning Reveals Novel Traumatic Brain Injury Patient Phenotypes with Distinct Acute Injury Profiles and Long-Term Outcomes. J Neurotrauma 37(12): 1431-1444, June 2020.

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Last updated: 04/03/2024
The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania