Research & Education


Research Faculty

The Texas Brain and Spine Institute (TBSI) is a neuroscience center of excellence associated with Baylor Scott and White Health and Texas A&M HSC, College of Medicine.

By including both clinicians and scientists, TBSI creates a two-way street for research ideas and studies. For the physician, problems dealt with every day in the clinic in the care of patients can be brought to the laboratory to be studied and hopefully solved. For scientists, the collaboration with clinicians provides access to patients to allow the translation of their basic research into a treatment for an illness that might save or improve lives.

Past Research Topics

Sildenafil for Treatment of Urinary Incontinence in Patients with Spinal Cord Injuries

MicroRNA as predictive markers for long term stroke recovery

Chronotherapeutics in Glioblastoma: Leveraging Circadian Rhythms in p38 MAPK Activity

Novel roles for NIK/MAP3K14 in high-grade glioma: regulation of mitochondrial dynamics to control cell migration and invasion

Glioblastoma invasion, motility, stem cells, and vascular biology

Culture and characterization of vascular smooth muscle cells from intracranial aneurysms

Deriving Neuronal Stem Cells from Human Brain Tumors for Regeneration and Repair Strategies

Farida Sohrabji, Ph.D.
James Grau, Ph.D.
Mary W Meagher, Ph.D.
Steven Wright, Ph.D.
D. Samba Reddy, PhD, RPh, FAAPS
Jonathan Levine, DVM
C. Jane Welsch, Ph.D.
Gary C. McCord, M.D.
Mark J. Zoran, Ph.D.
Rajesh Miranda, Ph.D.
William H Griffith, Ph.D.
Michelle Hook, Ph. D.
Raquel Sitcheran, Ph.D.
L. Gerard Toussaint, III, M.D.

Interested in the TBSI Grant Program?

Interested applicants need to contact Farida Sohrabji, Ph.D. at or Erica Gonzalez at


TBSI Research Enhancement Seed Grant Program

TBSI seed grants are intended to promote research and scholarship in neuroscience and to facilitate collaboration between clinical and basic science members of TBSI. Rather than sustain current research program, seed grants are intended to develop new projects.

Seed grants provide one year of funding for two $15,000 grants. Applications will be judged for scientific merit. Two programmatic criteria will also be taken into consideration: (a) thematic relevance to TBSI and (b) new partnerships between clinical and research members.

The members of the TBSI Neurosurgery have a strong commitment to the teaching of students pursuing a career in science or medicine. As faculty members of the Texas A&M Health Science Center, we are actively involved with the mentoring of medical students. Students are encouraged to shadow our staff both in the clinic and in the operating room to increase their exposure to neurosurgery thereby allowing them to make a more informed decision with regard to their own career path. Our students have also been actively involved in neuroscience projects which have led to publications and the presentations at national neurosurgical meetings.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center, College of Medicine Course Guides:

This block includes integrated material in basic principles of Biochemistry, Cell Physiology, Pharmacology, and Micro/Gross Anatomy related to structures in the thorax, back, upper extremity and abdomen. Prerequisite: Admission to medical school.

This block includes integrated material in basic principles of Biochemistry, Genetics, Pharmacology, and Micro/Gross Anatomy related to structures in the pelvis, lower extremity, and head/neck. Prerequisite: Completion of MEID 920.

936 – NEUROSCIENCE / Credit 9.
Integrates a basic knowledge of brain/spinal cord structure, vulnerability to injury and disease, the resulting dysfunctional consequences and CNS pharmacotherapeutics available to clinics caring for patients with brain disorders or injury. Addresses related first and second year clinical competencies required to prepare students to begin clinical training in the third year of the medical curriculum. Prerequisite: Completion of Phase I and MEID 935.

texas a and m


Clinical surgery with workup of patients and participation with the clinical faculty in preoperative evaluation, operative procedure and postoperative care. Participation in clinical rounds, conferences, emergency room, and formal classroom activity. Prerequisite: Satisfactory completion of year two of the medical curriculum.

  • MEID 983N-B: Multidisciplinary Clinical Neuroscience
  • SURG 983N-CS: Neurosurgery

Students interested in a taste of neurosurgery are encouraged to contact TBSI Neurosurgery.


Physician Assistants

Members of The Texas Brain and Spine Institute, in affiliation with CHI St. Joseph Health System and The Texas A&M Health Science Center, have developed an intensive and comprehensive twelve month didactic and clinical program in Neurologic Surgery for the Physician Assistant which provides the resident with the knowledge and skills necessary to care for the neurosurgical patient.

Program components include:

  • Combined didactic and clinical curriculum
  • Scholarly publication
  • Rotations in virtually all areas of neurosurgery
  • Registration and participation in an annual Neurosurgical meeting
  • Online case tracking and ePortfolio


A Certificate of Completion will be awarded upon successful completion of the program.

Length of program: 12 Months

  • (6) 8-week rotations and 1 week CME at the annual American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) Conference
  • Rotations include spine, vascular, tumor, neurotrama, critical care and functional.

Class size: 1 Student
Class start date: Fall of acceptance year

Requirements: 12 Months

  • Graduate of ARC-PA Physician Assistant program
  • Eligible for Texas licensure
  • NCCPA eligible or certified


For additional information, please feel free to contact Joe Hlavin, PA-C, Director, at


Student Research Program

TBSI Summer Medical Student Research Program

Summer Medical School Research program

TBSI Neurosurgery hosts a summer research program for medical students every year. The targeted students are typically between their first and second year of medical school and are available for summer research in Bryan/College Station.

Our program offers mentorship in clinical and basic science research four days per week. The fifth day is spent observing neurosurgical procedures, and potentially neurology practice, in the community. We have a course of four didactic lectures during the summer, and no reading is required for these.

In the past, students have come to the program with their own funding through various sources (mentors can help with applications for these).

Examples include:

  • The medical student summer research program through the College of Medicine
  •  The AANS medical student research grants
  • New possibilities: ABTA, other national organizations
  • Student providing their own support (parents, loans, etc)

Students seem to enjoy their experience and some have published in peer-reviewed journals.

Our limit is five students, so accept our apologies if all requests cannot be filled.

If interested, please send a one page document to including:

  • Research background (not required)
  • Goals for the summer project
  • Tentative field of clinical neuroscience to research (brain tumors, MS, stroke, spine disease, trauma, etc.)

Interested students are encouraged to contact TBSI Neurosurgery.


Student Fellowship

TBSI Graduate Student Fellowship

Available to advanced Neuroscience graduate students associated with Texas A&M HSC.

Background and Overview:
The Texas Brain and Spine Institute (TBSI) is a neuroscience center of excellence associated with CHI St. Joseph Health and Texas A&M HSC, College of Medicine. Participants in TBSI include physicians, educators, scientists and other practitioners whose goals are to improve and expand clinical services for patients with neurological diseases and to contribute to research and teaching through collaborations with the Texas A&M System. Consistent with all of these goals is the formation of the TBSI Graduate Student Fellowship in Neuroscience. The TBSI fellowship is designed to attract and to retain the very best students into the neuroscience program and to foster the educational mission of TBSI. The fellowship is a one-year graduate student stipend offered to highly-qualified, advanced graduate students in the third or fourth year of graduate training.

Applications will be accepted from third or fourth year graduate students who are currently enrolled in the joint Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Neuroscience (NRSC) or in the Neuroscience-Track of the TAMHSC School of Graduate Studies. The applicant must be in good academic standing and the graduate advisor’s primary academic affiliation must be within the College of Medicine. The student’s research area should be consistent with the overall goals and objectives of TBSI. Programmatic need will be a factor in the selection process.

Academic Requirements:
Students are required to remain in good academic standing with a minimum average GPA of 3.0 and make satisfactory progress towards their degree. Failure to maintain this standard will result in the student being placed on academic deficiency and potential loss of stipend.

Students Expectations:
Recipients of the fellowship will be required to present their research at the TBSI Annual Research Symposium and to participate in TBSI sponsored events. Departmental activities such as seminars, journal clubs, lab meetings, and any other professional activities recommended by the thesis committee chair are also expected. Research publications should acknowledge TBSI support.

Selection Process:
A faculty committee consisting of 2-3 members of TBSI will review the applications and make a recommendation to the Chair of the Department of Neuroscience & Experimental Therapeutics who will make the final decision. The Chair will forward the nominee to the College of Medicine Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies for approval.

Contact Us or Schedule an Appointment, Call 800-793-9106