Thomas Rau

Assistant Research Professor



Dr. Rau received his undergraduate degree in cell and molecular biology in 1997 from the University of Montana. In 2001 he completed his certification in clinical laboratory science from the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks. In 2007 he was awarded a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Montana. In December 2011 he completed his post-doctoral fellowship with David Poulsen at the University of Montana.

Research Interests

The primary focus of the Rau laboratory is the study of traumatic brain injury (TBI) mechanisms, diagnosis and treatment. In addition to this study we are focused on developing new animal models of TBI that accurately predict and model human TBI. 


  • GE-NFL Head Health Challenge I Methods for Diagnosis and Prognosis of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (Co-PI Drs. Patel/Rau).
  • Primary goal to advance the understanding and diagnosis of mild traumatic brain injury. 
  • Validate biomarkers that indicate how the brain reacts following a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and a method to identify which brain areas become disconnected after injury.

MUS Montana Research and Economic Development Initiative (MREDI) Translational Science at the Neural Injury Center (Co-PI Drs. Patel/Rau/Santos).

  • TBI is a complex health care issue that affects 13% (~133,000 individuals) of Montana’s adult population, with Montana ranked 2nd in the nation for TBI per capita.
  • Develop a TBI research consortium to bring together seven independent TBI researchers and two private companies to work synergistically to translate intellectual property owned by the MUS into diagnostic tools and therapies to directly benefit TBI survivors. 
  • Expand clinical services for TBI survivors and veterans at the Neural Injury Center at The University of Montana and initiate clinical trials based on technology developed by the TBI research consortium.  

Center for Translational Research Infrastructure Network (CTR-IN),  The Development of a Multi-Dimensional System of Oculomotor Evaluation for TBI Survivors.” (co-PI Rau,  Santos)

  • Develop and validate new testing for oculomotor assessments in TBI and control subjects.
  • Correlate oculomotor abnormalities with cognitive impairment and blood based biomarkers

Field of Study

Dr. Rau's study is focused on the development of diagnostic tools and neuroprotective therapies for traumatic brain injury and stroke. This study involves both animal models of neuropathology as well as human subjects exposed to traumatic brain injury. 


The Neuroprotective Potential of Low-Dose Methamphetamine in Preclinical Models of Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2015 Feb 25. pii: S0278-5846(15)00046-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2015.02.013. Review Rau T, Ziemniak J, Poulsen D

Temporal and Spatial Changes in the Pattern of Iba1 and CD68 Staining in the Rat Brain Following Severe Traumatic Brain Injury.
 Modern Research in Inflammation Vol.4 No.2,  Pub. Date: August 14, 2015 
Debbie Smith, Diane Brooks, Eric Wohlgehagen, Thomas Rau, David Poulsen

Phenoxybenzamine Is Neuroprotective in a Rat Model of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2014, 15(1), 1402-1417; doi:10.3390/ijms15011402 Thomas F. RauAakriti KothiwalAnnela RovaJoseph F. Rhoderick and David J. Poulsen

Administration of low dose methamphetamine 12hours after a severe traumatic brain injury prevents neurological dysfunction and cognitive impairment in rats. Exp Neurol. 2013 Dec 10. pii: S0014-4886(13)00359-2. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2013.12.001. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24333768 Rau TFKothiwal ASRova ARBrooks DMRhoderick JFPoulsen AJHutchinson JPoulsen DJ

Treatment with low-dose methamphetamine improves behavioral and cognitive function after severe traumatic brain injury. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2012 Aug;73(2 Suppl 1):S165-72. Rau TFKothiwal ASRova ARBrooks DMPoulsen DJ

Oxygen glucose deprivation in rat hippocampal slice cultures results in alterations in carnitine homeostasis and mitochondrial dysfunction. PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e40881. Epub 2012 Sep 11. Rau TF, Lu Q, Sharma S, Sun X, Leary G, Beckman ML, Hou Y, Wainwright MS, Kavanaugh M, Poulsen DJ, Black SM.

Increased NADPH oxidase-derived superoxide is involved in the neuronal cell death induced by hypoxia-ischemia in neonatal hippocampal slice cultures. Free Radic Biol Med. 2012 Sep 1;53(5):1139-51. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2012.06.012. Epub 2012 Jun 19. PMID: 22728269 Lu Q, Wainwright MS, Harris VA, Aggarwal S, Hou Y, Rau T, Poulsen DJ, Black SM.

Low dose methamphetamine mediates neuroprotection through a PI3K-AKT pathway. Neuropharmacology. 2011 Sep; 61(4):677-86. Epub 2011 May 27. Rau TF, Kothiwal A, Zhang L, Ulatowski S, Jacobson S, Brooks DM, Cardozo-Pelaez F, Chopp M, Poulsen DJ.

Increased p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling is involved in the oxidative stress associated with oxygen and glucose deprivation in neonatal hippocampal slice cultures. Eur J Neurosci. 2011 Sep 21 Lu Q, Rau TF, Harris V, Johnson M, Poulsen DJ, Black SM.

Altered carnitine homeostasis is associated with decreased mitochondrial function and altered nitric oxide signaling in lambs with pulmonary hypertension. Sharma S, Sud N, Wiseman DA, Carter AL, Kumar S, et al. American journal of physiology. Lung cellular and molecular physiology. 2008; 294(1):L46-56. PubMed [journal] PMID: 18024721 PMCID: PMC3970936