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Yama Akbari, MD, PhD

Yama Akbari, MD, PhD

Mechanistic Development of a Novel Treatment to Promote Arousal of Post-Cardiac Arrest Coma in a Rodent Model via Orexin-A

Yama Akbari, MD, PhD is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology. He completed the Medical Scientist Training Program at UC Irvine, earning his MD as well as his PhD from the Department of Neurobiology & Behavior in the laboratory of Professor Frank M. LaFerla. He then completed a neurology residency at UCLA followed by a 2-year neurocritical care fellowship at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Akbari returned to UC Irvine in 2012 as a neurointensivist and neuroscientist. As he commonly treats comatose patients in the neuro-intensive care unit of UC Irvine Medical Center, he developed an academic and clinical interest in understanding and treating coma. His KL2 project focuses on improving coma arousal and coma recovery in a rodent model of post-cardiac arrest coma. Specifically, his project seeks to understand the role of orexin in coma. Orexin is a hypothalamic stimulatory neuropeptide, and a deficiency in orexin occurs in a variety of comatose disorders. This study, under the mentorship of Professors Tallie Z. Baram and Olivier Civelli, seeks to investigate whether coma-inducing insults, such as cardiac arrest, repress the production of orexin, and if so, what mechanisms are involved.  Secondly, this project seeks to investigate whether stimulation of the orexinergic pathway using pharmacologic approaches and advanced genetic approaches can improve coma arousal. The ultimate goal of this research is to better understand mechanisms of coma while discovering and developing novel therapeutic strategies for improving coma recovery.