Walter L. Copeland Laboratory

The Walter L. Copeland Laboratory serves as a central facility for research and development within the Department of Neurological Surgery. Located on the ninth floor of Scaife Hall, the laboratory was dedicated on November 29, 2001 by L. Dade Lunsford, MD. The laboratory houses several research disciplines which provide resources for a wide range of neurosurgery faculty, residents, visiting fellows and students. Neurotrauma, brain imaging, and neuroanatomical research are the primary initiatives being conducted in the laboratory. A significant amount of this work is funded by The Walter L. Copeland Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, a fund that has provided resources for research at the University of Pittsburgh since 1961. 

The Neurotrauma Clinical Trials Center (NCTC), under the direction of David O. Okonkwo, MD, PhD, and co-director, Ava M. Puccio, RN, PhD, is located within the Copeland Laboratory. The NCTC team conducts innovative clinical research with a focus on biomarkers as well as the evaluation of neurotherapeutics for traumatic brain and spinal cord injury. In addition, annual resident training is performed every July for hands-on cadaver training of multi-modality intracranial monitoring insertions (i.e. external ventricular drain placement, and intracranial pressure and brain oxygenation/temperature monitoring). Instruction of lumbar puncture and Mayfield positioning for operating room stabilization is performed with simulation.   

The Surgical Neuroanatomy Laboratory, under the direction of Paul Gardner, MD, specializes in training residents and fellows on advanced anatomy and neurosurgical skull-base approaches. The lab places a specific focus on the development, and subsequent training, of new methods of intraoperative cranial navigation and endoscopic techniques.  The lab also hosts yearly international visiting research fellows, where neurosurgeons from around the world participate in ground-breaking research regarding innovative neurosurgical methodology. Kyle Affolter, is the coordinator for these efforts. 

The Fiber Tractography Lab, under the direction of Fang-Cheng (Frank) Yeh, MD, PhD, is focused on the application of HDFT for presurgical planning and intraoperative navigation to facilitate brain function preservation and improve resection rates in patients with complex brain lesions. The laboratory’s work is also centered on studying the structure and connectivity of the fiber tracts forming the “normal” human brain, and their structural alteration in patients with brain tumors, vascular lesions, stroke, and neurodegenerative diseases.

[See also Who Was Walter Copeland?]