Stroke Research in the Department of Neurology

Research in the Stroke Division spans the entire breadth of stroke care, from prevention to post-stroke management. As part of a large, interdepartmental team that manages over 1,000 stroke cases per year, the Vanderbilt Stroke Division is able to operate at the forefront of this rapidly evolving area of neurological research. Faculty members actively participate in many national clinical trials and create novel approaches to understanding the brain, thus bringing the latest advances in stroke medicine to patients. 

The Stroke Division regularly receives funding from such institutions as the National Institutes of Health, PCORI Foundation, the pharmaceutical industry, grants and more. 

Faculty members in the Stroke Division are leading research in the following areas:

Factor X1 inhibitor

Dr. Howard Kirshner

Dr. Kirshner is the local Primary Investigator on the BMS study of a novel Factor X1 inhibitor in stroke. He is also involved in several other trials and is the head of the adjudication committee for the new C3FIT study (see below). He has participated in dozens of stroke research studies over the years, and is also an investigator on several other current studies.


C3FIT – Coordinated, Collaborative, Comprehensive, Family-focused, Integrated, Technology-Enabled to Improve Stroke Care

Dr. Kenneth Gaines
Jeri Lynn M. Braunlin DNP, ACNS, BC, NEA, BC, CNRN, RN - Project Manager for the C3FIT Study

Dr. Gaines is currently a National Principal Investigator for a C3FIT (Comprehensive, Coordinated, Collaborative, Family-focused, Integrated, Technology Enabled) Stroke Care Delivery Design Randomized Comparative Effectiveness Trial. Sponsored by a grant through the PCORI Foundation, this large study involves 18 comprehensive stroke centers.


Clinical trials

Dr. Eva Mistry

Dr. Mistry’s primary research focus is on clinical trials for acute stroke. She is also interested in clinical trial methodology to ensure efficient translation of therapeutics into patient. As such, she focuses on designing trials with novel trial methodology as well as novel solutions to facilitate each step of trial conduct; for example, she has worked on the refinement of processes around informed consent and leveraging electronic health record systems for data collection. She is currently leading a study focused on blood pressure management after mechanical thrombectomy.


Clinical trials

Dr. Michael Froehler

Dr. Froehler maintains an active clinical and translational research program, and has served as PI of over 30 clinical studies (both industry- and grant-sponsored) at Vanderbilt. His particular areas of clinical research interest include acute ischemic stroke treatment, vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage, and endovascular aneurysm treatment. His translational research revolves around endovascular models of intra-arterial chemotherapy for retinoblastoma, and endovascular thrombectomy device development. 


Telemedicine and stroke care

Dr. Patricia Commiskey

With a background in public health, Dr. Commiskey has focused her research on improving stroke care across the continuum through innovative, technology-based, integrated systems of care, particularly during post-discharge recovery for patients, caregivers, and their families. She also focuses on identifying and reducing social determinants of health for stroke and neurological care, as well as patient, caregiver and family engagement. She is currently Principal Investigator (PI) for a USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant to explore the feasibility of implementing an ambulance-based telemedicine network between EMS and advanced stroke-trained personnel in the field, as well as an internally funded health communication grant to explore attitudes and perceived impact of telemedicine. 


Vascular disease and cognitive impairment

Dr. Matthew Schrag

Dr. Schrag’s research focuses on understanding how cerebral amyloid angiopathy contributes to cognitive impairment and the other neuropathologies of Alzheimer's disease.

More on Dr. Schrag’s research