Erik H. Middlebrooks, M.D., conducts research focused on applying functional neuroimaging and brain connectomics to guide treatment of neurological diseases. His laboratory has particular interest in the use of neuromodulation to target specific brain networks and use of artificial intelligence (AI) to predict patient outcomes. Dr. Middlebrooks uses advances in MRI technology to develop biomarkers for improved outcomes in neurosurgical treatment of brain tumors, epilepsy, neurodegenerative disorders, and movement disorders including Parkinson's disease, essential tremor and dystonia.
- Development of brain connectivity-based targets for deep brain stimulation (DBS). Dr. Middlebrooks' laboratory develops cutting-edge techniques for guiding surgical placement and device programming for DBS in treating movement disorders and epilepsy.
- Discovery of novel brain targets for treating neurological disease with neuromodulation. Dr. Middlebrooks collaborates with Mayo Clinic colleagues in multiple specialties including neurosurgery, neurology and sleep medicine to develop novel methods of treatment for diseases currently lacking effective therapeutic options.
- Improvement of methods for preoperative functional mapping of the brain. An additional area of investigation is in improving the understanding of human brain function and functional localization of vital brain regions — such as language, memory and motor function — to guide surgical treatment of brain tumors.
Significance to patient care
Despite tremendous advancement in medical science, many neurological disorders continue to lack effective therapeutic options. The 21st century has witnessed developments in neuroimaging, such as functional MRI and diffusion tractography, that continue to revolutionize understanding of the human brain through the science of brain connectomics. Dr. Middlebrooks' team uses these same tools to refine and develop surgical therapeutic options for patients with many neurological disorders including epilepsy, movement disorders, neurodegenerative disorders and brain tumors.
An example of Dr. Middlebrooks' team's development includes use of brain connectivity and AI to predict patient outcomes after DBS and provide patient-specific surgical targets to maximize treatment response and reduce side effects. His team has also developed novel methods for surgical planning in DBS for epilepsy.
- Recipient, New Investigator Award, Radiology Research Alliance, 2019
- Recipient, Gary T. Barnes Distinguished Faculty Award, University of Alabama School of Medicine, 2017
- Recipient, Roentgen Fellow Research Award, Radiological Society of North America, 2015
- Named, Arnold G. Diethelm Student Scholar in Surgical Science, University of Alabama School of Medicine, 2006