June 1-2, 2020 | Washington, DC USA


The 2020 agenda has not yet been announced. Please check back in the coming weeks for updates or join our mailing list HERE. Below is the agenda from the 9th Annual Conference, which took place on May 16-17, 2019.


May 16, 2019

7:15 am Registration & Continental Breakfast

7:55 am Chairperson's Opening Remarks
Andreas Jeromin, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Cohen Veterans Bioscience

8:00 am Updates from the CDC Pediatric Mild TBI Guideline
This presentation will review highlights of the process and outcomes of the CDC Pediatric Mild TBI Guideline, released in Sept 2018 as 2 publications in JAMA with multiple specialty-specific adaptations. This Guideline represents the first ever evidence-based guideline pertaining to children with mTBI sustained from all types of injuries and throughout all ages in the US. It comprises 19 practice-changing recommendation sets.
Angela Lumba-Brown, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Clinical Assistant Professor, Pediatrics, Co-Director, Stanford Concussion and Brain Performance Center, Stanford University School of Medicine

8:25 am Challenges in Bridging the Divide Between Preclinical Models and Human TBI
C. Edward Dixon, Ph.D., Neurotrauma Prof. of Neurological Surgery, Vice Chair of Research, Dept. of Neurological Surgery, Prof. of Neurological Surgery, Neurobiology, & Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, University of Pittsburgh

8:50 am A Predictive Model of Brain Injury for Blast-induced Traumatic Brain Injury
Dr. Garcia and her team obtained fMRI data from the Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury Research (FITBIR) informatics system and created an algorithm that can digest, clean, and process data no matter it’s source or condition; as well as the ability to leverage multiple data sources pursuant to the directed analysis goals. Specifically, by being system and data agnostic, this algorithm accepts data from Electronic Health Records (EHR), Electroencephalogram (EEG), as well as multiple facets of MRI data (structural, functional, connective, etc). Likewise, the algorithm can be adapted to incorporated and analyzes dynamic changing (i.e., streaming from deployed medical devices) data as well as matrix-like simulation data. The findings of their study illustrate the ability to leverage data with FITBIR and identify actionable insights for the diagnosis, management and treatment of TBI.
Suzanne Garcia, Ph.D., Lead Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton
Santosh Srinivasaiah, Senior Lead Technologist, Booz Allen Hamilton

9:15 am The USU/CNRM Brain Tissue Repository for Research on Military TBI, An Update
The USU/CNRM Brain Tissue Repository is the only such brain bank facility that is exclusively dedicated to supporting research on military TBI. The collection currently contains over 100 brain specimens derived from both active duty and retired Service Members. Many of the cases in the collection were obtained from patients who suffered from severe persistent neurologic/behavioral symptomatology following significant exposure to blast TBI while other samples are derived from former Service Members who were free of such exposures. Each case undergoes detailed neuropathologic characterization and is dissected and stored in such a way as to maximize its utility for modern neurobiologic research. In this talk Dr. Perl will explain the workings of the Repository and review how this unique collection of specimens has contributed to our understanding of the effects of military TBI on the human brain.
Daniel Perl, MD, Professor of Pathology (Neuropathology), Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Director, Neuropathology Core, Center for Neurosciences and Regenerative Medicine

9:40 am Refreshment/Exhibit and Poster-Viewing Break

10:05 am Neuroimaging in TBI: Applications in Diagnosis, Monitoring and Treatment
Although the role of neuroimaging in clinical practice has historically been limited to detection of operable lesions and other forms of injury requiring immediate intervention, some imaging techniques have shown promise in monitoring long-term recovery, identifying injury phenotypes, and potentially augmenting treatment, particularly in individuals with mild TBI. Examples from recent analyses will highlight these emerging efforts to better utilize and integrate neuroimaging data into future clinical care.
Elisabeth Wilde, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Neurology, University of Utah

10:30 am Postacute TBI Trials: Lessons Learned, Successes and Potential Pitfalls
Those attending will be able to discuss the role of targeted studies in the postacute setting as well as list recent findings in postacute pharmacotherapy studies. The focus of this session will be on studies with behavioral or symptom based outcomes. This session will review positive findings of post acute trials in TBI as well as discuss limitations and next steps. In addition the specific role of the placebo effect in postacute trials will be explored and future clinical trial design discussed.
Ross Zafonte, DO, Earle P. and Ida S. Charlton Professor and Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

10:55 am Panel Session: A Holistic View of Bringing New Devices to the Market for TBI Diagnosis
In this session, our panelists will discuss important considerations that developers of new devices for TBI must take into account during the regulatory process. Topics to be covered include, qualification vs approval and clearance, clinical validation, FDA review timelines, industry/FDA communication and pre-submissions.
Doug Jeffery, Ph.D., Acting Branch Chief, Immunology & Flow Cytometry Branch, CDRH, Office of In Vitro Diagnostics & Radiological Health, Div. of Immunology & Hematology Devices, US FDA
Michael Hoffmann, Deputy Director, Division of Neurological and Physical Medicine Devices, Office of Device Evaluation, Center for Devices & Radiological Health, US FDA
Allison Kumar, CEO, Principal Consultant, Arina Consulting
Nicholas Conti, Ph.D., Head Business Development, Quest Diagnostics

12:30 pm Luncheon

1:30 pm Advancing Warfighter Brain Health: The Role of Research
This presentation will describe the current Defense Department strategy for optimizing brain health in warfighters. A gaps driven research portfolio will be discussed highlighting key priorities that target promoting warfighter brain health and countering traumatic brain injury. The role of partnerships and strategic alliances will also be discussed.
Terry M. Rauch, Ph.D., MPH, MBA, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Readiness Policy & Oversight), Department of Defense

2:00 pm Advances in the Deep Clinical Phenotyping of Deployment Trauma
Over the past decade, the VA RR&D TBI Center, TRACTS, has made progress in understanding how the effects of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and exposure to blast munitions are contextualized within the psychologically and physically traumatic circumstances in which they occurred for our Post 9/11 Veterans. This research has holistically integrated biological, neurobiological, psychological and epidemiological approaches to the study of the long-term effects of brain injury (primarily mTBI and blast exposure) and has led to an emerging concept that we have termed “Deployment Trauma.” The concept of deployment trauma is intended to capture the simultaneity of psychological and physical trauma that is suffered by service members in the theatre of war that was characterized by extensive use explosive weaponry. Deployment trauma captures the fact that mTBI in this population most commonly co-exists with other psychological or physical conditions (e.g., PTSD, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, chronic pain syndromes, substance abuse, etc.), and when it does, it contributes to significant and functionally devastating effects that will likely impact the long-term social, emotional and economic integrity of this generation of Veterans. In this presentation, I will present behavioral and neuroimaging data that support the concept of a deployment trauma phenotype and suggest wholistic avenues for rehabilitation.
Catherine Fortier, Ph.D., Assistant Professor/Psychologist/Associate Clinical Director and Principal Investigator, TRACTS/GRECC, Harvard Medical School/VA Boston Healthcare System

2:25 pm Test Combining GFAP & UCH-L1 (Banyan BTI) Predicts Absence of intracranial injuries after TBI: Results of the pivotal ALERT-TBI Multicenter Study
In this presentation, Dr. Bazarian will discuss the following:
• Test combining GFAP and UCH-L1 has both high sensitivity and NPV within 12 hours of mild TBI
• Supports its potential role for ruling out the need for a head CT scan in ED patients in whom a scan is felt to be clinically indicated
• Future studies to determine the value added by this biomarker test to head CT clinical decision rules could be warranted.
Jeff Bazarian, MD, MPH, Professor of Emergency Medicine, Neurology, Neurosurgery, and PHS, University of Rochester

2:50 pm Biomarkers of Chronic Neurological and Behavioral Symptoms
Jessica Gill, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, Deputy Scientific Director, Division of Intramural Research, Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Sr. Investigator, National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), NIH

3:15 pm Refreshment/Exhibit and Poster-Viewing Break

3:45 pm Validation of New Astrocyte Injury Defined Biomarkers for Neurotrauma
Evaluation of patients with traumatic brain injury or concussion would greatly benefit from additional sensitive brain injury biomarkers. We identified a new panel of Astrocyte Injury-Defined (AID) biomarkers from a unique neurotrauma model by targeted proteomics and systematic selection (Levine et al., 2016; Halford et. al., 2017). AID biomarkers are the first shown to associate with the extent of human astrocyte wounding or cell death. AID markers were significantly elevated in CSF and blood of TBI patients from the first hour to one week post-injury. The brain-specific glycolysis isoform Aldolase C (ALDOC) is one of the most abundant brain proteins and showed high biofluid stability after TBI. ALDOC was also robustly elevated in the serum of two independent cohorts of mild TBI patients, and in two groups of subjects with sports-related concussion. Further validation provides defined analytical target sensitivity and specificity and aligns data across different immunoassay platforms and laboratories. AID biomarker levels correlated with MRI findings and novel histopathology metrics in rat and swine neurotrauma models. Thus, preclinical and clinical data suggest that AID biomarkers can detect neurological deficits beyond tissue loss, reflecting subtler tissue compromise.
Ina Wanner, Ph.D., Associate Research Scientist, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles

4:10 pm Serum Biomarkers of Overpressure Exposure Among Military Personnel
Exposure to mild-moderate overpressure (OP), caused by blast waves, is associated with concussion-like symptoms as well as increased risk of neurodegenerative disease or suicide. Our work seeks to objectively define early responses to mild-moderate OP exposure per the use of blood-based biomarkers coupled with symptom assessment. Early, sensitive quantitation biomarkers may be capable of identifying biological effects of OP and augmenting in-field care.
Angela Boutte, Ph.D., Principal Investigator & Research Biologist, Brain Trauma, Neuroprotection, & Neurorestoration Branch, Center for Military Psychiatry & Neuroscience Research, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research

4:35 pm RAPID-Dx: A Platform for Biomarker Discovery and Validation
Andreas Jeromin, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Cohen Veterans Bioscience

5:00 pm Panel Session: The Utilization of Biomarkers in Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosis and Targeted Treatment
Jessica Gill, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, Deputy Scientific Director, Division of Intramural Research, Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Sr. Investigator, National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), NIH
Ina Wanner, Ph.D., Associate Research Scientist, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles
Jeff Bazarian, MD, MPH, Professor of Emergency Medicine, Neurology, Neurosurgery, and PHS, University of Rochester

5:30 pm Cocktail Reception

May 17, 2019

7:30 am Continental Breakfast

8:00 am Diagnosis and Prognosis: "The Two-fer of TBI?"
Rapid assessment of structural damage in TBI patients can be achieved by point of care biomarker testing. Assessment by neuroimaging technologies, such as CT and MRI, has limitations, in that the majority of patients show no abnormality by either technology. Biomarkers detected in blood are an alternative indicator of structural damage to brain structures that has shown promise as a sensitive diagnostic aid. The benefits of blood biomarkers are the potential for quicker and more sensitive confirmation of TBI, and a decrease in time, exposure to irradiation for the patient, and expense. Emerging technologies can detect blood biomarkers in minutes, and additional modalities have been devised to assess functional brain impairments after mTBI, including tablet based testing platforms that use standard instruments. Combining functional assessment of the brain circuitry with detection of protein biomarkers of damage may improve diagnostic and prognostic accuracy. Recent efforts to combine modalities for improved performance will be discussed.
W. Frank Peacock, IV, MD, FACEP, Associate Chair & Research Director, Emergency Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine

8:25 am Traumatic Brain Injury Biomarkers in Therapeutic Trials: Pharmacodynamic Perspectives
In this presentation, Dr. Wang and Dr. Hansson will discuss the following:
• Temporal profile of brain injury biomarkers following TBI
• Changes in biomarker levels in cerebrospinal fluid during NeuroSTAT (cyclosporine) treatment in severe TBI patients
• Utilization of TBI biomarkers in pharmaceutical development
Kevin K.W. Wang, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Neuroproteomics & Biomarkers Research, Chief – Translational Research, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Neuroscience & Physiological Science, University of Florida, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine
Magnus Hansson, MD, Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer, VP Preclinical Development & Clinical Development, Neurovive

8:50 am Chemokine Receptor 5 (CCR5) Antagonist Peptide R103: Mechanisms Supporting Its Use as a Treatment in TBI
Serious, and sometimes lethal, sequelae of head trauma arise from uncontrolled and persistent brain inflammation. Reductions in activated microglia, inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, infiltration of peripheral monocytes and protection of neurons and synapses are important treatment goals for brain injuries. Short peptides derived from HIV envelope proteins modulate key innate immune pathways and may provide a nuanced state of inflammation that promotes repair and limits neurotoxicity after head trauma. In this presentation Dr. Ruff will describe results using multi-chemokine receptor antagonist peptides in pre-clinical and human clinical studies that support their development for traumatic brain injuries.
Michael Ruff, Ph.D., Founder, President and CEO, Creative Biopeptides

9:15 am Calpain-2: A New Target for Neurodegeneration
Numerous reviews have discussed the role of calpain in neurodegeneration in general, and in stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). While some studies have reported some positive effects of calpain inhibitors in TBI, other studies have not confirmed these results. While non-isoform selective calpain inhibitors were shown to inhibit overall calpain activation (without distinguishing which calpain isoform was targeted) following TBI, they failed to provide neuroprotection. Work from our laboratory over the last 5 years has shown that calpain-1 and calpain-2, the major calpain isoforms in the brain, play opposite functions in both synaptic plasticity and neuroprotection/neurodegeneration. We will review the evidence that supports the notion that calpain-2 is a good target for preventing neurodegeneration using our work with mouse models of TBI and repeated concussions. In addition, we will discuss our efforts to identify selective calpain-2 inhibitors that could be developed into new therapeutic treatments for various acute neurodegenerative disorders, including TBI and repeated mild traumatic brain injury.
Michel Baudry, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, Neuraegis, Dean, Graduate College of Biomedical Sciences, Western University of Health Sciences

9:40 am Refreshment, Exhibit and Poster-Viewing Break

10:10 am Captons: A Promising New Approach to Treating Traumatic Brain Injury by Addressing Excitotoxicity
For decades, studies have demonstrated that stopping excitotoxity halts the spread of tissue damage within the brain. Captons are designed to halt the process of excitotoxicity by reacting with excess Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) thereby preventing the release of any more glutamate. ROS production is elevated at sites of damage and diseased tissue, signaling the body’s repair mechanisms. Interfering with this signaling can inhibit tissue repair. A Capton is designed to engage ROS only at levels which exceed the body’s ability to cope. Captons have received positive Proof of Concept (POC) for protection from seizure in studies conducted by the NIH-NINDS (National Institutes of Health – National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke). By addressing excitotoxicity, Capton technology could give longer, healthier lives to so many people who suffer from crippling chronic conditions that have been linked to TBI.
Sara Isbell, Chief Executive Officer, President & Co-Founder, Mercaptor Discoveries

10:35 am Demonstration of AST-004 Neuroprotective Efficacy in a Porcine Model of TBI
Todd Kilbaugh, MD, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia/University of Pennsylvania

11:00 am Novel Therapeutic Treatment for TBI: Small Molecule Designed to Increase Synaptic Density Leads to Improved Motor and Memory Recovery in Rats
In this presentation, Dr. Simmon will describe studies with novel small molecule therapeutics that have demonstrated efficacy in treating TBI in a rat model. The compounds being developed by Spinogenix increase dendritic spine density leading to increased synapse formation after controlled cortical impact. Significant improvements in motor function (mNSS, footfault, adhesive removal) and memory (novel object recognition, social recognition, Morris water maze) were observed in rats treated with SPG101.
Vincent Simmon, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer, Spinogenix

11:25 am Large Animal Models of Traumatic Brain Injury for Randomized, Blinded Pre-Clinical Trials: CMX-2043 Efficacy Trials for TBI
Ischemix is developing its family of novel cytoprotective compounds for serious neurological diseases and conditions. Their lead compound, CMX-2043, as a treatment for traumatic brain (TBI), has produced significant positive preclinical data in porcine TBI models, including: mitochondrial function, sensorimotor activity, magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy and peripheral biomarker data.
Todd Kilbaugh, MD, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia/University of Pennsylvania

11:50 am Panel Session: Challenges and Opportunities in the Development of New Therapeutics for Traumatic Brain Injury
Michael Ruff, Ph.D., Founder, President and CEO, Creative Biopeptides
Michel Baudry, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, Neuraegis, Dean, Graduate College of Biomedical Sciences, Western University of Health Sciences
Sara Isbell, Chief Executive Officer, President & Co-Founder, Mercaptor Discoveries
Vincent Simmon, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer, Spinogenix
Todd Kilbaugh, MD, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia/University of Pennsylvania
Magnus Hansson, MD, Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer, VP Preclinical Development & Clinical Development, Neurovive Pharmaceutical

12:25 pm Luncheon

1:25 pm The Evolution of Translingual Neurostimulation – From Science Fiction to Fact
This presentation will provide details that are relevant to the current disease and treatment landscapes for patients with chronic balance deficits associated with mmTBI. Despite the current standard of care, instability or imbalance can persist after mmTBI, which often results in a significant negative impact on patients’ functional status and quality of life. Program faculty will describe how noninvasive translingual neurostimulation of cranial nerves is a novel treatment option for these patients. First, the history of noninvasive translingual neurostimulation will be described. Randomized clinical trial data will also be presented on how PoNS Treatment™ affects balance, gait, and other factors in participants with chronic balance deficit and other symptoms due to mmTBI.
Kim Skinner, PT, DPT, Director of Physical Therapy, Helius Medical Technologies
Alain Ptito, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Division of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University

1:50 pm Towards Precision Medicine for Traumatic Brain Injury: Lessons from TRACK-TBI
Ramon Diaz-Arrastia, MD, Ph.D., Associate Director for Clinical Research, Center for Neurodegeneration & Repair, Director of Traumatic Brain Injury Clinical Research Center, Presidential Professor of Neurology, Penn Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

2:15 pm Flexible Outcome Assessment in Multi-Center Traumatic Brain Injury Trials: The TRACK-TBI Experience
Measuring TBI outcome is important for clinical trials and longitudinal studies of recovery or deterioration. TBI outcome measures need to be sufficiently sensitive and specific to detect important differences in TBI sequelae and capture small but important treatment-related changes. A key challenge in longitudinal studies involving subjects with mild through severe brain injury is how to standardize the approach to assessment while minimizing missing data. This presentation will describe the TRACK-TBI Flexible outcome Assessment Battery (FAB). The FAB was designed to be sensitive to injury-related changes in multiple domains of function across patients at all levels of TBI severity and stages of recovery. Preliminary data on the feasibility and clinical utility of the FAB will be reviewed.
Joseph Giacino, Ph.D., Director of Rehabilitation Neuropsychology, Director, SRN Disorders of Consciousness Program/Associate Professor, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital/Harvard Medical School

2:40 pm Neurologic Function Across the Lifespan: A Longitudinal Study (NFL-Long)
This talk will focus on the recent NFL-Long study, a translational and longitudinal study designed to 1) characterize the neurological health of former NFL players, 2) assess risk factors associated with long term neurological health of former NFL players, 3) assess methods for measuring hyperphosphorylated tau in vivo, and 4) perform preclinical studies into 4 potential treatment for repeated concussions including 1) an antibody to cis-tau, the toxic form of tau that leads to hyperphosphorylation, 2) the NMDA receptor antagonist, memantine, 3) low-dose carbon monoxide, which has shown promise in the treatment of other forms of brain injury, and 4) environmental enrichment, a laboratory proxy for regular physical and cognitive exercise. At the end of the study, the therapies that appear most promising in the laboratory will be translated into clinical trials for former NFL players suffering from long term problems.
William Meehan III, MD, Director, Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention/Associate Director of the Football Players Health Study, Boston Children's Hospital/Harvard University

3:10 pm End of Conference



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May 16-17, 2019 | Washington, DC USA

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