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Alan  Leviton, MD

Alan Leviton
Neurology Research
Hospital Title:
Director, Neuroepidemiology Unit
Academic Title:
Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Research Focus Area:

Research Overview

My research tries to identify why very preterm newborns are at high risk for brain damage. My goal is to identify exposures whose elimination or minimization might reduce the risk for this brain damage and its consequences. I had been the principal investigator of the 14-center ELGAN (Extremely Low Gestational Age Newborns) study, a prospective epidemiologic study of 1,500 infants born before the 28th week of gestation.

The ELGAN investigators seek to identify changes that occur before the brain ultrasound abnormalities that predict motor, cognitive, perceptual and behavior dysfunctions in these children. Much of this study relies on biomarkers measured in the placenta, umbilical cord and blood. Each of the proteins assessed has a role in inflammation, which is linked to oligodendrocyte damage and/or dysfunction or to processes that ameliorate damage/dysfunction.

By identifying biomarkers that indicate increased risk of cerebral damage, the ELGAN study should enable researchers to better design clinical trials of measures to reduce the occurrence of early brain damage and later developmental disabilities.

About Alan Leviton

Alan Leviton received his MD from SUNY-Health Sciences Center at Brooklyn, College of Medicine. He trained in medicine at Kings County Hospital, Brooklyn, NY, in neurology at the Barnes Hospital/Washington University program in St. Louis, MO in neuropathology at Children's Hospital, and in epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health.

Key Publications

  • O'Shea TM, Shah B, Allred EN, Fichorova RN, Kuban KC, Dammann O, Leviton A; ELGAN Study Investigators. Inflammation-initiating illnesses, inflammation-related proteins, and cognitive impairment in extremely preterm infants. Brain Behav Immun 2013;29:104-12.

  • Leviton A, Fichorova RN, O'Shea TM, Kuban K, Paneth N, Dammann O, Allred EN; ELGAN Study Investigators. Two-hit model of brain damage in the very preterm newborn: small for gestational age and postnatal systemic inflammation. Pediatr Res. 2013;73(3):362-70.

  • McElrath TF, Allred EN, Van Marter L, Fichorova RN, Leviton A; ELGAN Study Investigators. Perinatal systemic inflammatory responses of growth-restricted preterm newborns. Acta Paediatr 2013;102(10):e439-42.

  • Leviton A, Allred EN, Dammann O, Engelke S, Fichorova RN, Hirtz D, Kuban KC, Ment LR, O'shea TM, Paneth N, Shah B, Schreiber MD. Systemic inflammation, intraventricular hemorrhage, and white matter injury. J Child Neurol 2013;28(12):1637-45.

  • van der Burg JW, Allred EN, McElrath TF, Fichorova RN, Kuban K, O'Shea TM, Dammann O, Leviton A. Is maternal obesity associated with sustained inflammation in extremely low gestational age newborns? Early Hum Dev 2013;89(12):949-55.

For a list of Alan Leviton's publications on PubMed, click here.

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