About the Center

The CNRM is a federal medical research program that has transformed collaborative interactions between the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Congress established CNRM to bring together the expertise of physicians and scientists at these collaborating institutions in the National Capital area to develop innovative approaches to brain injury diagnosis and recovery.

Our Research

Before we can help patients recover from TBI, we must first diagnose the nature and extent of their brain injury to learn what repair may be needed. So, our research begins with diagnostics. The Diagnostics and Imaging Program develops innovative brain imaging techniques, and applies them to study the spectrum of complex brain injuries to inform clinical care and rehabilitation. CNRM researchers also seek to identify 'biomarkers', or biochemical signals, that can be used to measure the injury status or the effects of treatment. The Clinical Biomarkers program attempts to identify specific, reliable biomarkers that help us understand the progression of brain injury. Clinical research must be based on a foundation of understanding the fundamental science involved in brain injury and repair. Through pre-clinical research, or 'basic science', scientists learn about the biology of the injured brain. Our pre-clinical research programs use model systems to address ways to:

  • Preserve brain tissue by preventing the loss of brain cells and connections, called "neuroprotection"
  • Promote replacement of cells that have been damaged, called "neuroregeneration"
  • Stimulate recovery of connections between cells to regain normal brain functions, called "neuroplasticity"

Knowledge gained in the areas of Neuroprotection, Neuroregeneration, and Neuroplasticity is then applied in a clinical context to enhance recovery from TBI. These studies can link physical damage with psychological effects, such as stress, and the impact of both forms of injury to the recovery process.

Finally, the Rehabilitation and Evaluation Program will develop strategies that combine with neuroimaging and biomarkers to assess brain injury, track progress, and test new approaches to use rehabilitative medicine to intervene and optimize recovery.

What is brain injury?

Brain injury is a challenging complex of injuries that can have physical or emotional causes. Survivors of brain injury are often left with significant cognitive, behavioral, and communicative disabilities. Many patients often have difficulty maintaining employment or returning to duty which can create extreme stressors in family and interpersonal relationships.

The medical community defines some brain injury as traumatic brain injury (TBI). Based on information from the Centers for Disease control, the incidence of TBI is about 85 cases per 100,000 people in the U.S., which means about 1.4 million people experience TBI each year. Fortunately, the majority (85-90%) of these brain injuries are mild in degree. In a military context, the high incidence of service members experiencingTBI since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) has led to recognition of TBI as a "signature injury". While research advances have provided a better understanding of how the brain responds to injury, a much better understanding of brain function and repair is needed to improve recovery from TBI.

For more information on brain injury and TBI, please see: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/traumaticbraininjury.html

Who are the CNRM collaborators?

The Uniformed Services University (USU) is the Nation's Federal health sciences university and is committed to excellence in military medicine and public health. USU provides the Nation with health professionals dedicated to career service in the Department of Defense and the United States Public Health Service and with scientists who serve the common good. USU is responsible for the overall operation and management of the CNRM on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research. Helping to lead the way toward important medical discoveries that improve people's health and save lives, NIH scientists investigate ways to prevent disease as well as the causes, treatments, and cures for common and rare diseases.

The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is one of the nation's largest and most renowned military medical centers, best known for its history of providing care to war heroes and presidents alike for the past 65 years. People come here to heal, to stay healthy, to help others, to teach the next generation, to practice quality medicine, and take part in cutting-edge clinical research. WRNMMC is the Flagship of Force Health Protection and operational readiness; to deliver outstanding customer service; maintain outstanding opportunities in graduate medical and dental education and research; and always deliver world-class health care within an integrated system.

How to participate

The CNRM research advances are directly related to the support of patient volunteers, scientists, collaborators, and employees. If you would like to participate in our mission, please contact us as follows.

For more information on how to take part in one of our clinical studies, please call 1-855-TBI-CNRM or visit our CNRM Clinical Studies Website.

For employment opportunities with CNRM, please go to our Careers page. For all other inquiries, please see the Contact Us page.