The Meier Lab seeks to identify mechanisms of the acute and chronic effects of mild traumatic brain injury, including sport-related concussion. Using a variety of approaches—including advanced magnetic resonance metrics (e.g., fMRI, diffusion imaging, structural imaging), blood-based biomarkers, and clinical/behavioral testing—we look to answer questions such as: how long does it take the brain to recover following an acute mTBI, what are the physiological mechanisms associated with prolonged recovery following mTBI, and what are the cumulative effects of repetitive sport-related concussion on the brain?
Cumulative Effects of Concussion and Contact-Sport Participation
The Meier Lab is actively involved in determining the effects, if any, of repeat concussion and contact-sport participation on brain function and structure. Our group was among the first to demonstrate that subtle differences in brain structure (e.g., smaller volumes) and function—such as altered resting state connectivity, more psychological symptoms—are present in otherwise healthy college-aged athletes with prior concussion compared to athletes without concussion. Similar associations have also been observed in athletes with extensive contact sport experience compared to those with no contact sport experience. These results were limited to football players in relatively small sample sizes. One of our actively funded projects (R01NS102225; PI: Meier) involves replicating these findings and extending them to non-football and female athletes. This project will determine the relationship amongst concussion/contact sport history, brain structure and function, and blood-based biomarkers of a common immunoregulatory pathway that has been implicated in a variety of psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases.
- Association of Previous Concussion with Hippocampal Volume and Symptoms in Collegiate-Aged Athletes
- Smaller Dentate Gyrus and CA2 and CA3 Volumes Are Associated with Kynurenine Metabolites in Collegiate Football Athletes
- Abnormalities in Functional Connectivity in Collegiate Football Athletes with and without a Concussion History: Implications and Role of Neuroactive Kynurenine Pathway Metabolites
Blood-Biomarkers in mTBI and Concussion
The Meier Lab is actively investigating the potential utility of blood-based biomarkers in concussion and mTBI. Blood-based biomarkers have promise as objective markers to supplement current clinical practice for decisions regarding injury diagnosis and identifying individuals at risk for prolonged recovery. For example, we have demonstrated that brain-injury markers, such as GFAP, are elevated following sport-related concussion and improve the discrimination of concussed athletes compared to discrimination using symptoms alone. In addition, we have shown that inflammatory markers, while not specific to concussion, are predictive of symptom-duration following concussion. Ongoing work funded by the NIH continues to identify novel markers and investigate the utility of these markers in other cohorts, such as women and military service academy members (R21NS118169; R21NS099789; PI: Meier).
In addition to their potential clinical utility, blood-based biomarkers can also help identify potential physiological mechanisms that put individuals at risk for developing negative outcomes following concussion and mTBI. Several of our recent and ongoing projects have focused on blood levels of a common immunoregulatory pathway known as the kynurenine pathway. While this pathway has been linked with a variety of psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases, its role in mTBI has been underappreciated. The Meier Lab is investigating the association of blood levels of neuroactive kynurenine pathway metabolites with psychiatric sequelae observed acutely and chronically following TBI (R21NS099789; R01NS102225; PI: Meier).
- A Prospective Study of Acute Blood-Based Biomarkers for Sport-Related Concussion
- Acute elevation of serum inflammatory markers predicts symptom recovery after concussion
- Mood symptoms correlate with kynurenine pathway metabolites following sports-related concussion
- The Kynurenine Pathway in Traumatic Brain Injury: Implications for Psychiatric Outcomes
Neuroimaging of mTBI and Concussion
Neuroimaging currently provides the most direct approach to studying the effects of TBI on the brain. The Meier Lab uses advanced MRI metrics—including task-based fMRI, resting state fMRI, diffusion MRI, arterial spin labeling, and structural MRI—to characterize the acute effects of mTBI and sport-related concussion on brain function and structure, as well as the time course of their recovery. Given our involvement in various MRI studies of concussion across several cohorts, we are also focused on leveraging and harmonizing MRI data from multiple prior projects to facilitate analyses of sport-related concussion on a scale that may not be feasible with single-site studies—e.g., potential moderating effects of sex.
- Resting-state functional connectivity after concussion is associated with clinical recovery
- Recovery of cerebral blood flow following sports-related concussion
- Longitudinal assessment of white matter abnormalities following sports-related concussion
- Prevalence of Potentially Clinically Significant Magnetic Resonance Imaging Findings in Athletes with and without Sport-Related Concussion
The National Collegiate Athletic Association - Department of Defense Grand Alliance: Concussion Assessment, Research, and Education (CARE) Consortium
The CARE Consortium is a large, multi-site effort focused on characterizing the acute, intermediate, and cumulative/chronic effects of concussion and head impact exposure in NCAA athletes and military service academy members using head impact sensors, advanced MRI, blood-based biomarkers and genetics, and clinical testing, and the Meier Lab is critically involved in the blood and MRI biomarker work of the CARE Consortium Studies, including CARE 1.0, CARE 2.0, and CARE-SALTOS Integrated.
- Prospective study of the association between sport-related concussion and brain morphometry (3T-MRI) in collegiate athletes: study from the NCAA-DoD CARE Consortium
- Cumulative Effects of Prior Concussion and Primary Sport Participation on Brain Morphometry in Collegiate Athletes: A Study From the NCAA-DoD CARE Consortium
- Association of Blood Biomarkers With Acute Sport-Related Concussion in Collegiate Athletes: Findings From the NCAA and Department of Defense CARE Consortium
- Resting-State fMRI Metrics in Acute Sport-Related Concussion and Their Association with Clinical Recovery: A Study from the NCAA-DOD CARE Consortium
The Meier Laboratory receives funding on a continual basis from the Medical College of Wisconsin and on a per-project basis from such institutions as the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
Advanced MRI Markers for Repeat Concussion
NIH/NINDS: R21NS118169 | Meier (PI)
Peripheral inflammatory biomarkers for acute concussion: An extension of the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium Study.
NIH/NINDS: R01NS110856 | Nelson (PI)
Improving patient classification and outcome measurement in traumatic brain injury (TBI)
NIH/NINDS: R01NS110600 | McCrea, Wang (PIs)
Effects of head impact exposure during contact sport on middle school and high school athletes
NIH/NINDS: R01NS098494 | Mayer (PI)
The impact of diffuse mild brain injury on clinical outcomes in children
UHSUS: HU0001-18-2-0008 | Pasquina (PI)
Service Academy Longitudinal TBI Outcomes Study (SALTOS)
NIH/NINDS: R01NS102225 | Meier (PI)
The role of neuroactive kynurenine metabolites in the chronic sequelae of concussion and contact sport exposure
Cumulative and Persistent Intermediate Effects of Concussion and Head Impact Exposure in CARE Consortium Military Service Academy Members and NCAA Athletes
Daniel M. Soref Charitable Trust | Meier (PI)
Development of 3T neuroimaging protocol for pediatric mild traumatic brain injury
NIH/NINDS: R21NS099789 Meier (PI)
Inflammation and kynurenine metabolites in the acute sequelae of concussion
CTSI | Nelson (PI)
Predictive value of brief personality measures on recovery course and outcome after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI): 2016 extension project
Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin | Nelson (PI)
Association between post-concussive activity and clinical and neurophysiological recovery
GE/NFL | McCrea (PI)
A prospective study of advanced MRI biomarkers to determine acute physiological effects and longitudinal recovery after sport-related concussion
Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin | Meier (PI)
Neuroimaging and blood-marker correlates of recovery and outcome following mild traumatic brain injury
DOD: W81XWH-14-1-0561 | McCrea (PI)
Comprehensive study of acute effects and recovery after concussion
DOD/NCAA: W81XWH-14-2-0151 | McAllister, Broglio, McCrea (PIs)
The DOD/NCAA Grand Alliance: Concussion Assessment, Research, and Education (CARE) Consortium
Led by Lab Director and Principal Investigator Dr. Timothy Meier, the team at the Meier Laboratory specializes in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in sport, military and civilian populations.
Timothy B. Meier, PhD
Lezlie Y. España, BS
Programmer Analyst II
Graduate Student (Meier Lab)
Clinical Research Assistant II
Jennifer Hill, MA, CCRC
Program Director, Brain Injury Research Program
Senior Data Analyst, Brain Injury Research Program
Research Program Coordinator, Brain Injury Research Program
Clinical Research Coordinator, Brain Injury Research Program
Kearnin Van Bortel
Clinical Research Assistant II
Michael McCrea, PhD, ABPP
The Shekar N. Kurpad, MD, PhD, Chair in Neurosurgery; Professor; Vice Chair of Research; Co-director, Neurotrauma Research Center; Director, Brain Injury Research Program
Lindsay Nelson, PhD, ABPP
Benjamin Brett, PhD
Center for Imaging Research
Medical College of Wisconsin
Neuroscience Research Center
Medical College of Wisconsin
Adult Translational Research Unit
Medical College of Wisconsin
Andrew Mayer, PhD
Mind Research Network
Jonathan Savitz, PhD
Laureate Institute for Brain Research
Kent Teague, PhD
OU-TU School of Community Medicine
Rebekah Mannix, MD
Boston Children's Hospital
Jessica Gill, PhD
National Institute of Nursing Research, National Institutes of Health
Clinical Research Assistant II
Luisa Bohorquez, PhD
Monica Keith (Giraldo-Chica), PhD
Morgan E. Nitta, MS
Doctoral Research Assistant
Participate in Research
We are currently enrolling collegiate athletes to study brain health in sports. Participants will receive a stipend upon completion. Fill out this questionnaire if you are interested.
This study is being conducted in conjunction with the NINDS and the MCW Brain Injury Research Program.
Students interested in Graduate Education in the Neuroscience of Brain Injury are invited to explore opportunities in the MU-MCW Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, as well as the Neuroscience Doctoral Program at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Biomedical Engineering Doctoral Program
Join Our Team
The Meier Laboratory is always on the look out for individuals with an interest in the Neuroscience of Brain Injury. For general questions regarding open opportunities, contact Dr. Timothy Meier.
Are EPB41 and alpha-synuclein diagnostic biomarkers of sport-related concussion? Findings from the NCAA and Department of Defense CARE Consortium.
(Vorn R, Devoto C, Meier TB, Lai C, Yun S, Broglio SP, Mithani S, McAllister TW, Giza CC, Kim HS, Huber D, Harezlak J, Cameron KL, McGinty G, Jackson J, Guskiewicz KM, Mihalik JP, Brooks A, Duma S, Rowson S, Nelson LD, Pasquina P, McCrea MA, Gill JM, CARE Consortium Investigators.) J Sport Health Sci. 2023 May;12(3):379-387 PMID: 36403906 PMCID: PMC10199139 SCOPUS ID: 2-s2.0-85146465410 11/21/2022
The effects of cytomegalovirus on brain structure following sport-related concussion.
(Savitz J, Goeckner BD, Ford BN, Teague TK, Zheng H, Harezlak J, Mannix R, Muftuler LT, Brett BL, McCrea MA, Meier TB.) Brain. 2023 Apr 18 PMID: 37070698 04/19/2023
Cognition and post-concussive symptom status after pediatric mild traumatic brain injury.
(Robertson-Benta CR, Pabbathi Reddy S, Stephenson DD, Sicard V, Hergert DC, Dodd AB, Campbell RA, Phillips JP, Meier TB, Quinn DK, Mayer AR.) Child Neuropsychol. 2023 Feb 24:1-18 PMID: 36825526 02/25/2023
Prospective Study of Gray Matter Atrophy Following Pediatric Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.
(Mayer AR, Meier TB, Dodd AB, Stephenson DD, Robertson-Benta CR, Ling JM, Pabbathi Reddy S, Zotev V, Vakamudi K, Campbell RA, Sapien RE, Erhardt EB, Phillips JP, Vakhtin AA.) Neurology. 2023 Jan 31;100(5):e516-e527 PMID: 36522161 PMCID: PMC9931084 12/16/2022
Salivary Cortisol Dynamics After Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.
(Musacchio S, Kallenbach MD, Huber DL, Raff H, Johnson BD, Leddy J, McCrea MA, Meier TB, Nelson LD.) J Head Trauma Rehabil. 2023 Jan 21 PMID: 36696236 01/26/2023
Comparison of Various Metrics of Repetitive Head Impact Exposure And Their Associations With Neurocognition in Collegiate-Aged Athletes.
(Amadon GK, Goeckner BD, Brett BL, Meier TB.) Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2023 Jan 06 PMID: 36617242 01/09/2023
Multicompartmental models and diffusion abnormalities in paediatric mild traumatic brain injury.
(Mayer AR, Ling JM, Dodd AB, Stephenson DD, Pabbathi Reddy S, Robertson-Benta CR, Erhardt EB, Harms RL, Meier TB, Vakhtin AA, Campbell RA, Sapien RE, Phillips JP.) Brain. 2022 Nov 21;145(11):4124-4137 PMID: 35727944 PMCID: PMC10200286 SCOPUS ID: 2-s2.0-85142403239 06/22/2022
Effects of White-Matter Tract Length in Sport-Related Concussion: A Tractography Study from the NCAA-DoD CARE Consortium.
(Mustafi SM, Yang HC, Harezlak J, Meier TB, Brett BL, Giza CC, Goldman J, Guskiewicz KM, Mihalik JP, LaConte SM, Duma SM, Broglio SP, McCrea MA, McAllister TW, Wu YC.) J Neurotrauma. 2022 Nov;39(21-22):1495-1506 PMID: 35730116 PMCID: PMC9689766 SCOPUS ID: 2-s2.0-85141889549 06/23/2022
Test-Retest Reliability of a Semi-Structured Interview to Aid in Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosis
(Hergert DC, Sicard V, Stephenson DD, Pabbathi Reddy S, Robertson-Benta CR, Dodd AB, Bedrick EJ, Gioia GA, Meier TB, Shaff NA, Quinn DK, Campbell RA, Phillips JP, Vakhtin AA, Sapien RE, Mayer AR.) Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. 11 August 2022;28(7):687-699 SCOPUS ID: 2-s2.0-85112406340 08/11/2022
Proteomic Profiling of Plasma Biomarkers Associated With Return to Sport Following Concussion: Findings From the NCAA and Department of Defense CARE Consortium.
(Vorn R, Mithani S, Devoto C, Meier TB, Lai C, Yun S, Broglio SP, McAllister TW, Giza CC, Kim HS, Huber D, Harezlak J, Cameron KL, McGinty G, Jackson J, Guskiewicz KM, Mihalik JP, Brooks A, Duma S, Rowson S, Nelson LD, Pasquina P, McCrea MA, Gill JM.) Front Neurol. 2022;13:901238 PMID: 35928129 PMCID: PMC9343581 SCOPUS ID: 2-s2.0-85135450588 08/06/2022
Hiding in Plain Sight: Factors Influencing the Neuroinflammatory Response to Sport-Related Concussion.
(Tabor JB, McCrea MA, Meier TB, Emery CA, Debert CT.) Neurotrauma Rep. 2022;3(1):200-206 PMID: 35734393 PMCID: PMC9153987 06/24/2022
Non-Linear Device Head Coupling and Temporal Delays in Large Animal Acceleration Models of Traumatic Brain Injury
(Mayer AR, Ling JM, Patton DA, Stephenson DD, Dodd AB, Dodd RJ, Rannou-Latella JG, Smith DH, Johnson VE, Cullen DK, Meier TB, Kinsler RE.) Annals of Biomedical Engineering. June 2022;50(6):728-739 SCOPUS ID: 2-s2.0-85127579023 06/01/2022