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A digital flyer, with a blue background and red banner, for Penn Medicine at the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting 2024.

DENVER – Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania will present data on the latest research across the full spectrum of Neurology – including a link between head injury and suicide, potential traumatic brain injury biomarkers, a promising new drug to treat multiple sclerosis – at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Meeting from April 13-18 in Denver, Colorado. Follow us on Twitter @PennMedicine and @PennMDForum for updates.

Expert Interviews

Experts from the Perelman School of Medicine are available to comment on a wide range of topics in neurological conditions, treatments, and research during the meeting on site and by video call, telephone, or email. To arrange interviews, please contact Kelsey Geesler at or 215-300-1194.

Key Presentations

Plenary Session: Brain Health Across the Lifespan

Powered by Numbers: Leveraging Epidemiological Data to Accelerate Research into Action to Improve Outcomes in Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is common and associated with significant symptoms and mortality, especially among older individuals. Andrea L.C. Schneider, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Neurology, and Epidemiology, will present data from studies with more than 30 years of follow-up to provide insights into TBI and describe how it causes these long-term complications, with a focus on cognitive decline and dementia.

Schneider will present on Saturday, April 13, at 5:05pm MDT/7:05pm ET in the Bellco Theatre.


2024 Norman Geschwind Prize in Behavioral Neurology

David Irwin, MD, an assistant professor of Neurology, will receive the 2024 Norman Geschwind Prize in Behavioral Neurology, which is awarded to an individual for outstanding research in the field of behavioral neurology. Irwin will present on his research that focuses on the study of human brain tissue to determine how clinical symptoms are influenced by underlying neuropathology in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Frontotemporal Dementia, Lewy body disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease. He shows how this approach helps clinicians identify which clinical trials and emerging treatments would benefit an individual’s specific disease. His ultimate goal is to identify therapeutic targets and develop new laboratory and imaging tests that detect pathology in living patients.

Irwin will present on Monday, April 15, at 3:30pm MDT/5:30pm ET in Bluebird 2E-H.


Headache and Suicide: A Population-based Cohort Study in Denmark

Holly Elser, MD, PhD, a resident in the department of Neurology, will present her research that found a strong association between headache disorders–including migraine, tension-type headache, and post-traumatic headache–and attempted and completed suicides in Denmark between 1995 and 2018. Although individuals with headache disorders are often also diagnosed with psychiatric illnesses, there has been limited research that examines rates of attempted and completed suicide across headache disorders. The findings suggest that psychiatric evaluation and treatment is particularly important for patients diagnosed with headache disorders.

Elser will present her abstract on Monday, April 15, at 4:54pm MDT/6:54pm ET in room Mile High 1EF. 


Remote Network Effects of Post-traumatic Lesions and Risk of Epilepsy

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of acquired epilepsy. Neuroimaging acquired after neurotrauma and prior to the onset of seizures may be used to develop predictive models of epilepsy risk. Shivek Narang, an undergraduate researcher at the Penn Center for Neuroengineering and Therepeutics, and James J Gugger, MD, PharmD, an assistant professor of Neurology, show that using MRI to map post-TBI brain contusions and their impact on brain function may help better predict which individuals will develop seizures. This could improve the early diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic epilepsy.

Narang will present his poster on Monday, April 15 at 5:30pmMDT/7:30pm ET in Exhibit Hall B-E


The Adaptive Immune System Is Not Necessary for α-synuclein Pathology Formation or Dopaminergic Neuron Loss After α-synuclein Pre-formed Fibril Injection

Esteban Luna, MD, PhD, a resident in the department of Neurology, will discuss findings that may explain how the adaptive immune system (B- and T-cells), and the innate immune system (microglia cells in the central nervous system) interact to cause an increase in the production of a protein called α-synuclein (αSyn) in the brain, which is a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Luna and his collaborators, including Virginia M.Y. Lee, PhD, the John H. Ware 3rd Professor in Alzheimer’s Research in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and Kelvin C. Luk, PhD, an associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, found that αSyn aggregation was only increased in mouse models where the innate immune system was dysregulated, and wasn’t impacted by the absence of the adaptive immune system. Luna also identified a gene that might be suppressed in individuals with a dysregulated innate immune system, that may play a role in αSyn production.

Luna will present his poster on Tuesday, April 16, at 11:45am MDT/1:45pm ET in Exhibit Hall B-E.


Circulating MicroRNAs as Prognostic Biomarkers for Traumatic Brain Injury

Currently, there are few reliable biomarkers for traumatic brain injury (TBI), which makes it difficult to determine injury severity, develop appropriate treatment plans, and select patients for future clinical trials. Rogan Magee, MD, PhD, a resident in the department of Neurology, presents research that suggests that specific microRNAs – small non-coding RNA molecules involved in the regulation of gene expression that can be found in blood samples – would be ideal biomarkers to predict recovery following TBI. 

Magee will present his poster on Tuesday, April 16, at 05:30pm MDT/7:30pm MDT in Exhibit Hall B-E.


Potentially Inappropriate Prescribing Practices Among Nursing Home Residents with Parkinson’s Disease in the End-of-life Period

In 2017, nursing home residents with Parkinson’s disease (PD) were more likely than their community-dwelling counterparts to be diagnosed with dementia and prescribed antipsychotics or benzodiazepines in the last 6 months of life. Sara Berman, MD, PhD, a resident in the department of Neurology, will present research that analyzed data from Medicare Part D beneficiaries 65 and older with PD who died between Jan. 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2017. She found that, in their last six months of life, 14.3 percent of nursing home residents with PD were prescribed at least one antipsychotic, compared to 6.5 percent of community-dwelling individuals with PD, and 34.3 percent of nursing home patients were prescribed at least one benzodiazepine, compared to 22.7 percent of their community-dwelling counterparts. These data may reflect inappropriate prescribing practices in U.S. nursing homes, and their association with 6-month mortality presents opportunities for further investigation.

Berman will present her poster on Tuesday, April 16, at 05:30pm MDT/7:30pm ET in Exhibit Hall B-E.


Post-COVID Hemicrania Continua: A Case Report

COVID-19 can lead to a variety of neurological conditions, including the worsening of migraine headaches or the development of new onset headaches. Post-COVID migraine and tension headaches have been previously reported, but there is limited research on post-COVID hemicrania continua headaches, or a continuous headache on one side of the head that can last for months. Katherine Dorfman, a third-year doctoral student in Neuroscience, and Sara Zeccardi, CNRP, a nurse practitioner in Neurology, present a case of post-COVID hemicrania continua, which highlights the breadth of COVID-induced headaches, and also points to opportunities to standardize post-COVID headache evaluations in order to improve diagnosis and treatment.

Zeccardi will present her poster on Wednesday, April 17 at 11:45am MDT/1:45pm ET in Exhibit Hall B-E.


Impact of Fenebrutinib Treatment on MRI Outcomes and Cerebrospinal Fluid Penetrance in Multiple Sclerosis: Results from the Phase II FENopta Study

Researchers, led by Amit Bar-Or, MD, a professor of Neurology, and director of Penn’s Center for Neuroinflammation and Neurotherapeutics, believe that Fenebrutinib, a drug from a class called Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitors, may be able to target two forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) at the same time: relapsing MS, which is characterized by sudden onset “attacks” of symptoms; and progressive MS, where symptoms and disability accumulate gradually over time. Experts recently found that both types of MS can coexist in the same patients. While there are highly effective therapies against relapsing MS, treatments for progressive MS – which need to penetrate the central nervous system – are currently lacking. Bar-Or will present results showing excellent tolerability and safety in a Phase II clinical trial of Fenebrutinib, which works by inhibiting the B- and myeloid cells of the immune system that contribute to the processes that cause relapsing and progressive MS. The drug also appears to both be highly effective against relapses and demonstrates excellent central nervous system penetration.

Bar-Or will present his research on Wednesday, April 17 at 1:36pm MDT/3:36pm ET in room Mile High 2/3.

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, excellence in patient care, and community service. The organization consists of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Penn’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school.

The Perelman School of Medicine is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $550 million awarded in the 2022 fiscal year. Home to a proud history of “firsts” in medicine, Penn Medicine teams have pioneered discoveries and innovations that have shaped modern medicine, including recent breakthroughs such as CAR T cell therapy for cancer and the mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities stretch from the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania to the New Jersey shore. These include the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Chester County Hospital, Lancaster General Health, Penn Medicine Princeton Health, and Pennsylvania Hospital—the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is an $11.1 billion enterprise powered by more than 49,000 talented faculty and staff.

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