Coleen M. Atkins, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery

Coleen Atkins, Ph.D.

The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
1095 NW 14th Terrace (R-48)
Miami, FL 33136


Research Interests

Areas Of Research



Coleen M. Atkins, Ph.D. is currently an Associate Professor at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis in the Department of Neurological Surgery, Director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and a Research Health Scientist at the Bruce Carter Miami VA Healthcare System. She received her undergraduate degree in 1993 from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, with an honors thesis conducted in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Chapman investigating the effects of nitric oxide on learning and memory. In 1999, she received her doctorate in Neuroscience under the training of Dr. David Sweatt at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, studying the molecular mechanisms of learning and memory. Dr. Atkins was a postdoctoral fellow at the Vollum Institute at Oregon Health & Sciences University with Dr. Thomas Soderling, determining the role of CaMKII in short versus long-term synaptic plasticity. In 2004, Dr. Atkins joined the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Dalton Dietrich to study synaptic dysfunction after traumatic brain injury.

The research objectives of Dr. Atkins laboratory are to develop therapeutics to treat cognitive dysfunction after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Currently, Dr. Atkins is studying synaptic loss after TBI in Alzheimer’s disease mouse models as well as investigating whether pre-exposure to chronic stress limits recovery after mild TBI. Dr. Atkins is a member of the National Neurotrauma Society, TEAM Neuroscience and the Society for Neuroscience. Dr. Atkins is serving as Vice-President of the National Neurotrauma Society for 2020-2021 and is President of the Miami Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience. In 2013, she was awarded the Brain Injury Association of America’s Young Investigator Award. Dr. Atkins is highly active in community education to promote understanding of neuroscience to the general public.

Developing Novel Therapies for Traumatic Brain Injury

  • The research in our laboratory focuses on developing novel therapeutic interventions for traumatic brain injury.
  • We are identifying the biochemical changes that underlie the pathology in the brain after trauma using molecular biology, biochemistry and electrophysiology techniques.
  • We are developing therapeutic strategies targeting maladaptive electrophysiological alterations, inflammation, and intracellular biochemical signaling pathways that are dysregulated during chronic traumatic brain injury.
  • The ultimate aim of the laboratory is to translate our preclinical studies to the clinic by testing our novel therapeutic interventions validated in the laboratory in chronic TBI survivors.


National Neurotrauma Society/TEAM Neuroscience

Society for Neuroscience

Miami Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, president

Nu Rho Psi Honor Society

Dr. Coleen Atkins, Jacqueline Alvarez, Maria Dominguez Torres, Dr. Carlos Dallera, Dr. Patrizzia Mastromatteo, and Dr. Fabiola Placeres Uray
Dr. Coleen Atkins, Jacqueline Alvarez, Maria Dominguez Torres, Dr. Carlos Dallera, Dr. Patrizzia Mastromatteo, and Dr. Fabiola Placeres Uray

Current Lab Projects include:

  • Therapies to Reduce Inflammation after Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Circuitry Remodeling in the Chronic Injured Brain
  • Interaction of Stress and Concussion

Visit Dr. Atkin’s Laboratory Website