Dr. David Clarke
Where there’s a will, there’s a way:
Neurosurgeon Dr. David Clarke is an integral member of Halifax’s Brain Repair Centre. He investigates neurons in the brain and spinal cord to reduce the effects of injuries – while making neurosurgery safer and more effective.
“In the lab we study the survival and regeneration of injured neurons in the brain and spinal cord,” says Dr. Clarke. “From the surgical perspective, we look for and test the safest and most effective ways to treat epilepsy, pituitary tumours and brain injuries.”
To further his work, the associate professor at Dalhousie Medical School developed the neuron survival and regeneration laboratory. There his team uses molecular and transgenic techniques to study the effects of specific proteins on the survival and regeneration of injured neurons.
“We explore why neurons die, and whether or not we can encourage their survival and enhance regeneration,” explains Dr. Clarke. “After a person has a brain or spinal cord injury there may be an opportunity to rescue some of the neurons. This could reduce the often-devastating effects of injury.”
In his efforts to make neurosurgery safer and more effective, Dr. Clarke has teamed up with Dr. Gail Eskes, a neuropsychologist and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry. They organized and now lead a group of researchers who study how magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to assess brain function prior to surgery. “This will allow me and others to plan the safest approach prior to surgery. We have been able to perform surgery that had previously been considered too dangerous,” he says.