Neurology research at Mayo Clinic explores basic and clinical science to develop new techniques and technical advances in neurology and neurosurgery. For all specialties, neurologists work as a team with neurosurgeons, clinicians and scientists to carry therapeutic options through several different stages — from their inception as ideas to safety and efficacy testing and use as patient treatments.
Neurology research focus areas include:
- Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Researchers are studying various aspects of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, such as frontotemporal and Lewy body dementia. When combined, the elements provide a comprehensive approach to unraveling the mystery of the disease: from understanding why it develops to how it can be diagnosed earlier, treated effectively and, ultimately, prevented.
- Cerebrovascular and critical care neurology. Clinical and basic science research for patients in a critical care setting is implemented to further understand their illnesses and develop improved and innovative treatments for strokes and brain and blood vessel conditions.
- Child and adolescent neurology. Neurologists are trained to treat infants, children and adolescents in brain and nervous system surgery, mental health conditions, sleep disorders, speech conditions, eye conditions and pain medicine.
- Epilepsy. Researchers are studying how seizures start, spread and stop; why certain types of seizures occur at specific ages or in response to distinct stimuli; and how anti-epileptic medications and electrical stimulation work on brain cells to block seizures and epilepsy.
- Movement disorders and Parkinson's disease. Neurologists are investigating many movement disorders, including Parkinson's disease, to determine the cause as well as find new treatments that will improve symptoms and eventually slow or stop the progression of these disorders.
- Multiple sclerosis and autoimmune neurology. Studies focus on discovering how the immune system can target virtually any structure within the central or peripheral nervous system, such as with multiple sclerosis (MS), neuromyelitis optica, autoimmune encephalitis and other neurological conditions.
- Neuromuscular diseases. Innovative research on the myriad complex diseases of the muscles and nerves ranges from motor neuron diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also called Lou Gehrig's disease), peripheral neuropathies, myopathies and diseases of the neuromuscular junction such as myasthenia gravis.
- Neuro-oncology. Focus areas include new therapeutic agents and approaches to gene therapy to target and kill cancer cells, or disrupt the specific signal transduction pathways that control tumor growth.
- Pain and headache. For vascular, muscle contraction (tension), traction and inflammatory sources of headache, research in new drug therapies, biofeedback training, stress reduction and changes in diet has proved successful in preventing and controlling migraine and other vascular headaches.
- Sleep neurology. Research clinicians are developing expertise in the diagnosis and management of sleep disordered breathing, narcolepsy and hypersomnias, restless legs syndrome, parasomnias, and insomnia for pediatric and adult patients.
- Spinal cord disorders. Research in spine care provides patients with new treatments including minimally invasive surgical techniques and advanced imaging using robotics and regenerative medicine.