Date of Award


Degree Name

Biomedical Sciences


Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Brandon Henderson, Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. Maria Serrat

Third Advisor

Dr. Richard Egleton

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Larry Grover

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Sasha Zill


Underlying the physical and cognitive deficits consequent of many neuropathologies is one common factor, the loss of neurons. While neurodegenerative diseases, stroke, and traumatic brain injury arise from a variety of etiologies, they all ultimately result in injury and/or death of neuronal cells and concomitant functional deficits. In the present work we primarily focus on current and potential treatments for localized lesions, particularly those in the striatum of Parkinson’s disease (PD) or the cortex as in stroke. First, we discuss a new surgical technique for deep brain stimulator (DBS) placement, as DBS is a mainstay treatment for movement disorders including PD. We then explore a novel brain implant capable of rerouting endogenous neural stem cells (NSCs) within the brain from their usual route to new areas of the brain. These implants are intended to recruit NSCs and regenerate lost brain tissue in disorders like PD and stroke. Finally, we investigate the varying effects of nicotine in the brain. Nicotine has been shown to be both neuroprotective for certain neuronal populations, yet neurotoxic to others. Therefore, awareness of the influences of nicotine on neural cells is vital for understanding how nicotine may be of help or detriment to current and prospective treatments for neurodegenerative disease.


Nervous system – Diseases.

Nervous system – Degeneration – Treatment.

Nervous system – Degeneration – Surgery.

Neural stem cells.

Brain Stimulation.

Parkinson’s disease – Treatment.