Research Opportunities

We strongly encourage and support residents’ research activities. Opportunities abound at Brown University and Warren Alpert Medical School, Rhode Island Hospital and the other Brown-affiliated hospitals.

Neurosurgery Research

Brown University has an internationally-respected neuroscience research program, and neuroscience research specifically related to neurosurgery is robust and crosses many disciplines. This research involves that of well known scientists such as John Donoghue, PhD, whose pioneering work on brain-machine interfaces routinely makes popular press headlines, and Christopher Moore, PhD, who is applying new optogenetic methods toward the treatment of neurologic disease. 

On the cognitive science side, faculty member Michael Frank, PhD studies the role of dopamine in learning, and has applied this to understanding cognitive deficits in Parkinson's disease in the setting of deep brain stimulation. 

In engineering, the laboratory of Arto Nurmikko is working to fabricate new optical and wireless electrical devices to interface with the brain. In addition to these few examples, many other neuroscience and cognitive science faculty have ongoing research programs directly related to neurosurgery and neurology.

Research Facilities at Rhode Island Hospital

At Rhode Island Hospital, the neurosurgery research laboratory complex in the Aldrich Research Building includes three laboratories extending over more than 3,000 sq. ft. and dedicated to cerebrospinal fluid and brain trauma/spinal cord injury research. Approximately one third of this space is devoted to the molecular biology laboratories, which includes the capability to perform a wide array of molecular and microbiological techniques. Another third of the research space comprises facilities for cell culture and associated microscopy. Adjacent to the main laboratories are separate rooms for isotope counting, histology, dark-room photography and walk-in refrigeration.


Under the auspices of the Brown Institute for Brain Science and the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute, cross-disciplinary collaborations are flourishing. For example, through these organizations, pilot grants are now provided to projects that specifically bridge the clinical and basic neurosciences. In addition, a monthly meeting routinely brings faculty from neurosurgery, neurology and psychiatry together with those from the basic neurosciences to discuss ongoing projects that leverage neurosurgical practice to understand basic brain function. Six to twelve people are typically in attendance at these meetings, and the first human studies have already yielded valuable data. More broadly, Brown University has made neuroscience and neuro-engineering institute-wide priorities, further raising visibility and attracting resources. Clearly, the combined strengths and resources of Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University are creating fantastic synergies for exploring new frontiers within neuroscience and neurosurgery.