Ferrazzano Research Group

Despite decades of research into the pathophysiology of hypoxic-ischemic brain injury and neuroprotection, effective therapy remains elusive and our clinical role after such an injury is largely supportive. More frustrating is the number of promising therapies that are effective in cell culture and animal models, but have subsequently failed to demonstrate benefit in clinical trials. The heterogeneity of injury and physiology, and the uncertain therapeutic window, are barriers to the translation of neuroprotective interventions. Additionally, pediatric brain injury studies must account for age related differences in cerebro-vascular physiology and susceptibility to brain ischemia, requiring prohibitively large multicenter trials to assess clinical benefit.

In an effort to overcome these barriers to translating neuroprotective interventions, we use small animal MRI to identify biomarkers of injury and therapeutic effect in animal models of pediatric cerebral ischemia. A combination of real-time imaging, conventional longitudinal imaging, and rodent behavioral testing is used to comprehensively assess neurodevelopmental differences in the physiology of ischemia and reperfusion, and the response to neuroprotective interventions. We have worked closely with the Sun Lab on their investigation into the role of the sodium/ hydrogen membrane ion exchanger (NHE1) in cerebral ischemia. We recently used T2 and Diffusion Weighted MRI to establish that genetic and chemical inhibition of NHE1 is neuroprotective in a mouse model of transient focal cerebral ischemia. Additionally, this work suggests that the size of the lesion seen on Diffusion Weighted images may be used as a biomarker of neuroprotection as early as one hour after reperfusion.

By identifying MRI biomarkers in animal models of pediatric brain injury, we hope to provide a means for selecting the patients most likely to benefit from a particular neuroprotective intervention in subsequent clinical trials. Basing patient selection on the physiologic target of therapy rather than simply the disease state will reduce the sample size needed, increase the likelihood of observing a drug effect, and facilitate the translation of promising neuroprotective interventions into clinical use.

Lab News

  • What We Published In May 2020

    Al Dhaheri N, Wu N, Zhao S, Wu Z, Blank RD, Zhang J, Raggio C, Halanski M, Shen J, Noonan K, Qiu G, Nemeth B, Sund S, Dunwoodie SL, Chapman G, Glurich I, Steiner RD, Wohler …

  • Pediatrics Research Week 2020 Abstract Book Now Available

    The Pediatrics Research Week 2020 Abstract Book is now available. University of Wisconsin Department of Pediatrics faculty, staff, fellows and residents submitted over 50 research abstracts for the virtual conference, which is taking place May 26-29, 2020. …

  • What We Published in April 2020

    1. Ascierto PA, Fox B, Urba W, Anderson AC, Atkins MB, Borden EC, Brahmer J, Butterfield LH, Cesano A, Chen D, de Gruijl T, Dillman RO, Drake CG, Emens LA, Gajewski TF, Gulley JL, Stephen …

  • Save the Date: Virtual Pediatrics Research Week Begins 5/26/20

    In response to COVID-19, the Department of Pediatrics’ annual Research Week will offer alternative programming to spotlight the scholarly work from its residents, fellows, faculty and staff. Through a mix of livestreamed lectures and interactive …

  • What We Published in March 2020

    Coller RJ, Berry JG, Kuo DZ, Kuhlthau K, Chung PJ, Perrin JM, Hoover CG,Warner G, Shelton C, Thompson LR, Garrity B, Stille CJ. Health System Research Priorities for Children and Youth With Special Health Care …

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Peter A. Ferrazzano, MD

Peter A. Ferrazzano, MD
Professor (CHS)
Division Chief, Critical Care