COSBID is a research interest group focused on the causes and consequences of spreading depolarizations as a pathologic mechanism in neurologic diseases. The group started as a clinical research collaboration, and today those efforts have grown into several single and multi-center studies of brain injury resulting from trauma and various types of stroke. Presently, there are more than 12 hospitals in Europe and the United States that monitor spreading depolarizations in patients for both research and clinical purposes, and more centers are joining each year. In addition, experimental scientists study the mechanisms and consequences of spreading depolarizations in the laboratory using brain slice preparations and animal models of human disease.  Techniques include intracellular recordings, two-photon microscopy, monitoring of cerebral blood flow and metabolism, and even mathematical modeling.

Field of study

Our group is broadly concerned with discovering mechanisms and treatments for secondary damage that occurs after acute injury to the brain from stroke and trauma.  Secondary injury describes the cascade of events that occur after the primary insult – such as mechanical trauma, a clotted artery, or ruptured aneurysm – and play a critical role in determining a patient’s outcome.  The hope for developing new treatments for these conditions lies in discovering and preventing these secondary injury mechanisms.

Our group is particularly focused on phenomena known as ‘spreading depolarizations’ that were discovered in the human brain in 2002 (see Our History).  Sometimes referred to as ‘brain tsunamis’, spreading depolarizations are waves of dysfunction that spread through the injured brain and short-circuit the brain’s essential electrical functions.  They have profound effects on brain biochemistry, gene expression, and metabolism, and may have a causal role in secondary deterioration.  The study of spreading depolarizations thus entails the full spectrum from molecular to systems biology and has practical applications in patient monitoring, clinical trials, and therapeutic development.


COSBID’s mission is to promote research and education in the new clinical science of spreading depolarizations, encourage collaborative efforts between clinicians and experimentalists, and advance basic science understanding of spreading depolarizations and related disease phenomena. This is accomplished through collaborative research and development, annual meetings and symposia, outreach to new investigators.