Conrad Johanson, Professor Emeritus of Neurosurgery, investigates the roles of the choroid plexus-CSF nexus and blood-brain barrier (capillaries) in regulating cerebrospinal fluid composition for neurons. His NIH-funded research over the past three decades, that has included models of ontogeny, hydrocephalus, ischemia and aging, has culminated in more than 150 publications. These projects have clarified how CSF and interstitial fluid homeostatic mechanisms, including periventricular neurogenesis, undergo gene expression changes in fetal brain development, hydrocephalus, senescence and Alzheimer's disease. Translational goal: To sustain the homeostatic capabilities of CSF in order to prevent cognitive losses as the brain weakens with aging. As Director of the Cerebrospinal Fluid Laboratory in Neurosurgery at Rhode Island Hospital, he has developed pharmacologic strategies to prevent/repair damage to the 'barrier cells' that stabilize neurochemistry and fluid dynamics.
Dr. Johanson was awarded the international Pudenz Prize in 2005 for career excellence in CSF physiology and molecular research. More than 75 biomedical Society presentations from the Johanson laboratory, delineating the protective and trophic roles of the CSF for neuronal networks, have been presented at international meetings and symposia in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America. His current scientific advisory work for NASA analyzes CSF pressure and brain fluid reabsorption changes in U.S. astronauts during and after space flight microgravity. The NASA project aims to stabilize astronaut brain and eye functions inflight so that long space missions will become feasible.
Before joining the Brown University faculty in the Research Scholar Track, Professor Johanson received tenure at the University of Utah, Department of Pharmacology, teaching medical and graduate-level pharmacology, mentoring PhD students, and administering an NIH-sponsored doctoral training grant. At the School of Medicine in Salt Lake City he was also associate professor of Anesthesiology, collaborating on blood-brain barrier projects. At the inception of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at Brown in 1985, Dr. Johanson was recruited as director of research for the Program in Neurosurgery. Over the past 30 years as professor of neurosurgery, his academic and professional activities have included training students and fellows for independent studies, honors theses, graduate degrees and post-doctoral stints; editing and reviewing for 45 archival scientific journals; and serving on grant study sections for NIH, NSBRI and NASA.