C. Edward Dixon, PhD

  • Neurotrauma Chair Professor
  • Vice Chair, Research
  • Director, Brain Trauma Research Center

C. Edward Dixon, PhD, received his PhD degree in physiological psychology from the Virginia Commonwealth University in 1985.That year, he was awarded a National Research Service Award for Postdoctoral Fellows by the National Institutes of Health and joined the Division of Neurological Surgery at the Medical College of Virginia.

In 1986, he became a postdoctoral fellow in the Biomedical Science Department of the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Mich. Dr. Dixon was named assistant professor in the Division of Neurosurgery at the Medical College of Virginia in 1987 and became an assistant professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston in 1991.

In 1995, he joined the Brain Trauma Research Center in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh as associate professor. He became the director of the center in October 2002.

Dr. Dixon received his adjunct faculty positions with the Department of Anesthesiology in 1995; the Department of Neurobiology in 2000 and the Department of Physical Medicine/Rehabilitation in 2003.

In 2001, he became a co-director of the Safar Center for Resuscitative Research. In May of 2004, Dr. Dixon was named full professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh and was later appointed vice chairman of research in the Department of Neurological Surgery in 2008.

In 2011, Dr. Dixon was honored with one of the highest honors the university can present a faculty member when he was awarded The Neurotrauma Chair in Neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Dixon served as president of the National Neurotrauma Society for the 2002-2003 term and continued as councilor of the society for terms 2004-2007 and 2009-2012. He also has continued as a study section participant of several public and private grant review panels. His research has dealt primarily with mechanisms of post-traumatic memory deficits, rodent models of traumatic brain injury, and functional outcomes.

Dr. Dixon has published 230 papers in refereed journals, two books (coeditor), 29 book chapters, and two editorials.

Specialized Areas of Interest

Mechanisms of induction and recovery of functional deficits following traumatic brain injury; neurotransmitter agonist therapies for recovery of post traumatic functional deficits; models of traumatic brain injury; clinical studies of pharmacotherapy.

Professional Organization Membership

American Association for the Advancement of Science
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
International Behavioral Neuroscience Society
International Neurotrauma Society
National Neurotrauma Society (Charter Member)
Pittsburgh Chapter of Society for Neuroscience
Society for Neuroscience

Education & Training

  • BA, Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1981
  • MS, Physiology/Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1984
  • PhD, Physiology/Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1985
  • NIH-NHRSA Fellow, Medical College of Virginia, 1986
  • Fellowship, General Motor Research Laboratories, 1987

Selected Publications

Carlson SW, Yan, HQ, Ma, M, li, Y, Henchir, J, Dixon CE. Traumatic Brain Injury Impairs SNARE Complex Formation and Alters Synaptic Vesicle Distribution in the HippocampusJ Neurotrauma 33(1):113-21, 2016.

Smith DH, Hicks M, Johnson VE, Bergstrom D, Cummings D, Noble-Haeusslein L, Hovda D, Whalen M, Ahlers S, LaPlaca M, Tortella F, Duhaime AC, Dixon CE. Preclinical traumatic brain injury common data elements: Towards a common language across laboratoriesJ Neurotrauma 15;32(22):1725-35, 2015.

Bales JW, Wagner AK, Kline AE, Dixon CE. Persistent cognitive dysfunction after traumatic brain injury: A dopamine hypothesisNeurosci Biobehav Rev 33:981-1003, 2009.

Dixon CE, Kochanek PM, Yan HQ, Schiding JK, Griffith R, Baum E, Marion DW, DeKosky ST. One-year study of spatial memory performance, brain morphology and cholinergic markers after moderate controlled cortical impact in ratsJ Neurotrauma 16(2):109-122, 1999.

Dixon CE, Lighthall JW, Anderson TE. Physiologic, histopathologic, and cineradiographic characterization of a new fluid percussion model of experimental brain injury in the ratJ Neurotrauma 5(2):91-104, 1988.

Dixon CE, Lyeth BG, Povlishock JT, Findling RL, Hamm RJ, Marmarou A, Young HP, Hayes RL. A fluid-percussion model of experimental brain injury in the rat. J Neurosurg 67:110-119, 1987.

A complete list of Dr. Dixon's publications can be reviewed through the National Library of Medicine's publication database.

Research Activities

Dr. Dixon directs the Department of Neurological Surgery’s Brain Trauma Research Center (BTRC) at the University of Pittsburgh. The BTRC is a multidisciplinary, multidepartmental research program aimed at improving outcome following severe traumatic brain injury. Research conducted both at the center and at other brain injury research programs clearly demonstrates the potential for improving outcomes using therapies designed to treat biochemical derangements that occur following impact to the brain. In order to identify the most critical of these sequelae of brain injury and to find newer therapies that are effective in treating them, the BTRC has established several basic science head injury laboratories and clinical research projects. A new area of research is the application of diffusion MRI tractography and network analysis to determine the effects of single or repetitive concussions and simulated blast (shock tube) exposures on the integrity of dopaminergic pathways. The role of presynaptic SNARE proteins is being studied as a novel mechanism of neurotransmission deficits after experimental traumatic brain injury. In collaboration with investigators in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurology, the effects of enriched environment therapy in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease are being studied. 

Media Appearances