Shaun Carlson, PhD

  • Research Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery
  • Associate Director of Synaptic Dysfunction and Plasticity, Safar Center for Resuscitation Research

Shaun Carlson, PhD, joined the faculty of the Department of Neurological Surgery in October of 2017 and became an Associate Director of Synaptic Dysfunction and Plasticity in the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research in 2019. Carlson graduated from the University of Kansas in 2007 with a bachelor of science degree in cell biology. He earned his PhD in physiology in 2013 from the University of Kentucky, studying the effects of traumatic brain injury on hippocampal neurogenesis and the efficacy of a growth factor based therapeutic approach to promote neurogenic plasticity and functional recovery after brain injury. He continued his training in 2013 as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery.

Carlson has over 15 years of experience studying traumatic brain injury (TBI) investigating mechanisms of injury contributing to synaptic and neurobehavioral dysfunction in multiple experimental rodent models of TBI. His work has evaluated the efficacy of neuroprotective and neuroreparative therapeutic strategies to promote recovery of synaptic function, neuroplasticity and functional recovery after TBI. His published work has examined posttraumatic changes in neuronal survival, hippocampal neurogenesis and intrasynaptic changes contributing to impaired neurotransmission and neurobehavioral impairments in multiple experimental models of TBI including fluid percussion injury and controlled cortical impact. This work has also focused on assessing the efficacy of therapeutic interventions aimed at promoting synaptic recovery, enhancing endogenous repair mechanisms and neuronal survival using interventions of intracerebroventicular infusion, intracranial injection, intranasal, systemic administration and transgenic or knockout rodent models.

Professional and Scientific Society Memberships

  • National Neurotrama Society, 2008-Present
  • National Society for Neuroscience, 2009-Present
  • American Heart Association, 2019-Present

Education & Training

  • BS, Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Kansas, 2007
  • PhD, Physiology, University of Kentucky, 2013
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh, 2013-2017

Selected Publications

Carlson SW and Saatman KE, “Central Infusion of IGF-1 increases hippocampal neurogenesis and improves neurobehavioral function following traumatic brain injury.” J Neurotrauma, July 2018, 1:35(13):1467-1480. PMID29455576. (IF at publication: 4.021)

Carlson SW, Dixon CE, “Lithium improves dopamine neurotransmission and increases dopaminergic protein abundance in the striatum after traumatic brain injury” J Neurotrauma, Dec 2018, 1;35(23):2827-2836 PMID: 29699444 (IF at publication: 4.021)

Jackson TC, Janesko-Feldman K, Carlson SW, Kotermanski SE, Kochanek PM, “Robust RBM3 and β-klotho expression in developing neurons in the human brain.” J Cereb Blood Flow Metab, 2019 Dec.; PMCID: PMC6890998. (IF at publication: 6.04)

Ikonomovic MD, Abrahamson EE, Carlson SW, Graham SH, Dixon CE. “Novel therapies for combating chronic neuropathological sequelae of TBI.” Neuropharmacology, 2019 Feb. PMID: 29933008. (IF at publication: 4.431)

Svirsky SE, Henchir JJ, Li Y, Ma X, Carlson SW, Dixon CE, “Neurogranin protein expression is reduced after controlled cortical impact in rats.” J Neurotrauma, 2020 Apr 1. PMCID: PMC7175627 (IF at publication: 4.056)

Kochanek PM, Jackson TC, Jha R, Clark RSB, Okonkwo DO, Bayir H, Poloyac SM, Wagner AK M.D, Empey PE, Conley YP, Bell MJ, Kline AE, Bondi CO, Simon DW, Carlson SW, Puccio AM, Horvat CM, Au A, Elmer J, Treble-Barna A, Ikonomovic M, Shutter L, Taylor DL, Stern AM, Graham SH, Kagan VE, Jackson EK, Wisniewski SR, Dixon CE, “Pathways to successful translation of new therapies for severe TBI in the golden age of traumatic brain injury research: A Pittsburgh vision” J Neurotrauma Nov 2020 PMID: 30520681. (IF at publication: 4.056)

Carlson SW, Yan H, Li Y Henchir J, Ma X, Young MS, Ikonomovic MD, Dixon CE, “Differential regional responses in soluble monomeric alpha synuclein abundance following traumatic brain injury” Mol Neurobiol, Jan 2021, PMID: 32948930.  (IF at publication: 4.586)

Jha R, Mondello S, Bramlett HM, Dixon CE, Shear DA, Dietrich WD, Wang KKW, Yang Z, Hayes RL, Poloyac SM, Empey PE, Lafrenaye AD, Yan HQ, Carlson SW, Povlishock J, Gilsdorf J, Kochanek PM. Glibenclamide Treatment in Traumatic Brain Injury-Operation Brain Trauma Therapy. J Neurotrauma, Mar 2021.  doi: 10.1089/neu.2020.7421. PMID: 33203303. (IF at publication: 4.056)

Osier ND, Bramlett HM, Shear DA, Mondello S, Carlson SW, Dietrich WD, Deng-Bryant Y, Wang KKW, Hayes RL, Yang Z, Empey PE, Poloyac SM, Lafrenaye AD, Povlishock JT, Gilsdorf JS, Kochanek PM, Dixon CE, “Kollidon VA64 treatment in traumatic brain injury: Operation Brain Trauma Therapy” J Neurotrauma, Apr 2021. PMID: 33843262. (IF at publication: 4.056)

Zusman BE, Dixon CE, Jha RM, Vagni VA, Henchir JJ, Carlson SW, Janesko-Feldman KL, Bailey ZS, Shear DA, Gilsdorf JS, Kochanek PM, “Choice of whole blood versus lactated ringer’s resuscitation modifies the relationship between blood pressure target and functional outcome after traumatic brain injury plus hemorrhagic shock in mice” J Neurotrauma, Oct 2021. PMID: 34269621. (IF at publication: 5.269)

Fronczak KM, Li Y, Henchir J, Dixon CE, Carlson SW, “Reductions in synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2 isoforms in the cortex and hippocampus in a rat model of traumatic brain injury” Mol Neurobiol, Nov. 2021. PMID:344352329. (Impact factor (IF) at publication: 5.590)

View MyNCBI Bibliography » 

View ORCID Record ORCID » 

Academic and Research Interests

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Synapse
  • Neurotransmission
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Neurorepair
  • Plasticity

Research Grants

NIH R21NS111099, SV2A as a Therapeutic Target for Improved Neurotransmission after Traumatic Brain Injury (PI), 2019-2022.

Chuck Noll Foundation, Levetiracetam as a Therapy for Synaptic Dysfunction after Repetitive Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (PI), 2019-2022.

The Pittsburgh Foundation, Subchronic synaptic vesicular pool alterations after traumatic brain injury (PI), 2021-2022.

Chuck Noll Foundation, Decosahexaenoid Acid and Presynaptic Mechanisms in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (PI), 2018-2022.

NIH R21NS115440, Structural and Functional Dysconnectivity in Dopamine/Acetylcholine Circuitry in Repetitive Mild TBI, 2020-2022.

United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Connectome Analysis of the Nigrostriatal Neuronal Track after Blast TBI, 2020-2022.

United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Neurogranin and traumatic brain injury, 2021-2026.