Susan J. Vannucci, Ph.D. is a Research Professor of Neuroscience in Pediatrics. She received her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree with Honors in Cellular Biology at the University of Michigan, and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Pennsylvania State University/Milton S. Hershey Medical College. Before beginning her graduate training she was a senior research assistant in the Neurology Department of Cornell Medical College under Fred Plum, M.D. and Thomas Duffy, Ph.D., where she trained clinical fellows in the techniques and processes of experimental brain research.
While pursuing her graduate training at Penn State/Hershey, Dr. Vannucci was instrumental in developing the immature rodent model of neonatal cerebral hypoxic-ischemic brain damage (published in 1981), which is currently the most widely used animal model to study this clinical condition in the world. After completing her graduate training at Penn State, Dr. Vannucci undertook a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health and returned to Penn State/Hershey as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics. She was later promoted to Associate Professor. Most recently, Dr. Vannucci was Professor of Neuroscience in Pediatrics and Research Director of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Dr. Vannucci is the author of more than 90 peer-reviewed papers, chapters and reviews and has lectured in Europe and Asia as well as throughout the United States. The primary focus of Dr. Vannucci's research has been on hypoxic-ischemic injury to the newborn brain and the ways in which the newborn brain is especially vulnerable to energy failure and inflammation during critical periods of development. Because cell death following ischemia is an energy failure event, it is vital to understand the capacity and limitations of the energy supply, primarily in the form of glucose, to the brain. Most recently, the Laboratory of Newborn Brain research here at Weill Cornell Medical College has added seizure detection to the animal model of hypoxia-ischemia. This is a major translational advance since newborns suffer clinical, as well as subclinical or silent seizures, and also behavioral events that mimic seizure activity without electrographic changes. Little is known regarding the contribution of these types of seizures to ultimate brain damage and functional outcome. The development of this new model will allow researchers to address these vital questions.