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Alexander  Rotenberg, MD, PhD

Alexander Rotenberg
Research Center:
F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center
Neurobiology Program
Neurology Research
Hospital Title:
Associate in Neurology, Senior Research Associate in Neurology
Academic Title:
Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Research Focus Area:
Noninvasive brain stimulationEpilepsyTraumatic Brain Injury
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Research Overview

Our laboratory's major focus is on the development of novel methods to treat brain injury, particularly the type of brain injury that leads to epilepsy. We are currently working to identify mechanisms by which noninvasive brain stimulation can stop or prevent seizures.

We have adapted methods for transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to rodents and to in vitro brain slice preparations. These methods have in common the capacity to safely induce durable changes in neuronal activity. Limited experience with human patients, including those treated at Children's Hospital Boston, shows that TMS and tDCS have realistic prospects in suppressing seizures. Yet whether these techniques can prevent the onset of epilepsy after various forms of brain injury has not been tested. To characterize the cellular mechanisms by which TMS and tDCS exert their effect, and ultimately to optimize their clinical efficacy, we have adapted these techniques to rat epilepsy models, including one model of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

To determine how best to match the cellular changes induced by noninvasive brain stimulation those of brain injury and epilepsy, we are studying the molecular changes associated with TBI in rats. A second major focus has grown out of this work: testing novel pharmaceutical approaches to prevent brain injury and seizures after TBI.

In parallel to our laboratory experiments, we have ongoing clinical projects aimed to further develop techniques for noninvasive brain stimulation, particularly TMS, as diagnostic and therapeutic tools in child neurology.

About Alexander Rotenberg

Alex Rotenberg was born in Chernovtsy, Ukraine. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University (BA) and the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center (MD, PhD). He is an active member of the American Epilepsy Society, where he is on the scientific review committee. His current appointment is as Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School.

Key Publications

  • Rotenberg A. Prospects for transcranial magnetic stimulation combined with online EEG in epilepsy. Brain Topography 2010; 22:257-25.
  • Rotenberg A, Muller PA, Vahabzadeh-Hagh AM, Navarro X, Lopez-Vales R, Pascual-Leone A, Jensen FE. Lateralized forelimb motor-evoked potentials by transcranial magnetic stimulation in rat. Clin Neurophysiol 2010 Jan; 121(1):104-8.
  • Rotenberg A, Bae E, Muller PA, Riviello JJ, Bourgeois BF, Blum AS, Pascual-Leone A. In-session seizures during low frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in patients with epilepsy. Epilepsy and Behav 2009; 16:353-5.
  • Rotenberg A, Bae E, Takeoka M, Tormos J, Scachter S, Pascual-Leone A. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in treatment of epilepsia partialis continua. Epilepsy and Behav 2009; 14:253-7.
  • Rotenberg A, Muller P, Birnbaum D, Harrington MJ, Riviello JJ, Pascual-Leone A, Jensen FE. Seizure suppression by EEG-guided repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in the rat. Clinical Neurophysiology 2008; 119:2697-702.
  • Bae EH, Schrader LM, Machii K, Alonso-Alonso M, Riviello JJ, Pascual-Leone A, Rotenberg A. Safety and tolerability of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in patients with epilepsy: a review of literature. Epilepsy Behav 2007; 10:521-28.
  • Rotenberg A, Abel T, Kandel ER, Muller RU. Parallel instabilities of long-term potentiation, place cells, and learning caused by decreased protein kinase A activity. J Neurosci 2000; 21:8096-102.
  • Rotenberg A, Mayford M, Hawkins RD, Kandel ER, Muller RU. Mice expressing activated CaMKII lack low frequency LTP and do not form stable place cells in the CAI region of the hippocampus. Cell 1996; 87:1351-61.
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F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center

The F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center, together with the Neurobiology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, is the largest basic neuroscience research enterprise at a U.S. hospital. It incorporates basic and translational neuroscience research, focusing primarily on developmental neurobiology.

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