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Coleen M. Atkins, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery


Coleen M. Atkins, Ph.D.
Coleen M. Atkins, Ph.D.

Coleen M. Atkins, Ph.D. is currently an Associate Professor at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. 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. She investigated the effects of nitric oxide signaling 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, Texas, studying the molecular mechanisms of learning and memory.  Dr. Atkins’ post-doctoral training was completed at Oregon Health & Sciences University with Dr. Thomas Soderling, studying the role of CaMKII in short versus long-term synaptic plasticity.  Dr. Atkins’ joined the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine to train with Dr. Dalton Dietrich studying traumatic brain injury.

The long-term research objectives of Dr. Atkins’ laboratory are to identify the cellular signaling mechanisms that underlie synaptic plasticity during memory formation and to determine how these synaptic plasticity mechanisms are altered during traumatic brain injury.  Currently, Dr. Atkins is funded by the NIH to develop therapeutic strategies for learning and memory rehabilitation of chronic TBI survivors.  Dr. Atkins is a member of the Women in Neurotrauma Research society, the National Neurotrauma Society, the Society for Neuroscience, and the International Society for Neurochemistry.  In 2013, she was awarded the Brain Injury Association of America’s Young Investigator Award.  Dr. Atkins is highly active in Brain Awareness Week outreach activities as well as volunteering in her local community to promote the understanding of neuroscience to the general public.

Research Interests

Developing Novel Therapies for Traumatic Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injury

  • The research in our laboratory focuses on developing novel therapeutic interventions for traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury.
  • We are identifying the biochemical changes that underlie the pathology in the CNS 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.
Induction of PDE4B2 in Dendrites after TBI
Induction of PDE4B2 in Dendrites after TBI
Rescue of CREB Activation during Learning
Rescue of CREB Activation during Learning
Age-dependent Depression of cAMP after TBI
Age-dependent Depression of cAMP after TBI


Coleen Atkins, Ph.D.

  • The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
    1095 NW 14th Terrace (R-48)
    Miami, FL 33136
  • (305) 243-4698
  • (305) 243-3914


The Science and Engineering Fair (02/17/2017)

Industry and Academia: Drs. Coleen Atkins and W. Dalton Dietrich (10/19/2016)

Encouraging Traumatic Brain Injury Study Published (07/06/2016)

Dr. Dalton Dietrich and Colleagues Receive $1.6 Million NIH Award (06/30/2016)



  • Women in Neurotrauma Research Society
  • National Neurotrauma Society
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • International Society for Neurochemistry
  • Miami Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience

Current Lab Projects include:

  • Therapies to reduce inflammation after traumatic brain injury
  • Circuitry remodeling in the chronic injured brain
  • Concussions Sustained when Exercising in Warm Temperatures

Find out about the Laboratory of Coleen M. Atkins

Name Phone Email
Dr. David Titus 305-243-4926
Dr. Fabiola Placeres 305-243-7113
Nathan Johnson 305-243-4926