Center Leadership

Cindi Laukes

Director and COO, Board Chair, Neural Injury Center, University of Montana
Translational Research Navigator, ITHS, University of Washington-Seattle

Cindi Laukes is Director and COO of the Neural Injury Center at the University of Montana, where she directs a multidisciplinary brain injury research and clinical team. She has worked in the field of clinical and translational neuroscience for 26 years. She is also a translational Research Navigator for the Institute of Translational Health Sciences at the University of Washington-Seattle, where she also serves on the steering committee of a NW regional clinical research network. She recently was an investigator on a multi-site clinical trial of a medication for PTSD in combat veterans. She has directed or managed over 300 research projects in multiple clinical specialties, and was selected as one of nine Northwest Patient Centered Outcomes Research Scholars in the PCOR program at the University of Washington(2015-2017). Ms. Laukes has also conducted community-engaged patient-centered research in underserved populations. Prior to her work with the Center, she worked in hospital-based research at Providence St. Patrick Hospital-Missoula, The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center-Tucson, and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics-Iowa City. She has her own research consulting business.

Braxton Norwood

Chair-Scientific Advisors, Neural Injury Center
Neuroscientist Co-Founder and CEO, Expesicor, Inc.

Braxton Norwood, PhD, is a scientist-entrepreneur with a record of success in both academia and the biotechnology/pharmaceutical industry. He has authored over 20 peer-reviewed publications and is co-inventor on several (pending) patents. As a graduate student at the University of Arizona, he was a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Fellow. As an independent scientist, his research efforts have been recognized by the NIH (Young Investigator Award), CURE Foundation (Challenge Award), and Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (Young Investigator Scholarship). His current efforts are primarily focused on the development of next-generation therapeutics and diagnostic tools for neurological disorders/injuries. He has led drug development efforts that have, to date, reached Phase II clinical trials. He has a PhD in Medical Pharmacology from the University of Arizona.


Bill Rosen

Chair-Clinical Advisors, Neural Injury Center, Physiatry and Brain Injury Medicine

Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Dr. Rosen did his undergraduate work primarily at Oregon State University. After a brief stint with the Forest Service, he returned to school at St. Louis University, to obtain his MD degree in 1988. After completing his 4-year residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UC Davis, Dr. Rosen began practicing Physiatry in Billings in 1992. In late 2005, he moved his practice to Missoula. Since 2008, he has been in private practice, specializing in outpatient neurotrauma rehab. In 2014, he became the first MD in Montana to qualify for the new subspecialty of Brain Injury Medicine. In addition to his clinical practice, his research interests include improving the physical examination of individuals who have suffered injuries and/or have neurologic dysfunction.

Clinical Leads and Advisors

Kate Chapin

Clinical Lead and Advisor, Social Work, Neural Injury Center
Assistant Clinical Professor, University of Montana School of Social Work, Director of Interprofessional Education, College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences

Kate Chapin, LCSW, serves as the Director of Field Education and Assistant Clinical Professor for the University of Montana, School of Social Work. Kate oversees all field education placements for undergraduate and graduate social work students, trains field-based supervisors, and teaches undergraduate and graduate social work classes. Kate also serves as the Director of Interprofessional Education for the UM College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences, where she supports efforts to increase opportunities for interprofessional education in the classroom, in simulation and clinical settings. Prior to her time at the University of Montana, Kate developed and managed programs for survivors of interpersonal violence in a college setting and community agency. She has worked as an independent contractor writing grants, creating evaluation plans and providing outreach for a start-up program. Kate’s clinical experience includes working with survivors of interpersonal violence in individual and group therapy and providing clinical social work services to patients in a community health clinic. In addition to her work at UM, Kate serves on the Missoula Police Department External Review Panel reviewing and providing feedback on closed sexual assault investigations.

Jenna Griffin

Jenna Griffin, MS, CCC-SLP
Clinical Lead, Speech and Language, Neural Injury Center
Co-Director, Big Sky Aphasia Program

Jenna Griffin, M.S., CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and clinical educator specializing in neurogenic communication disorders in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at the University of Montana. She co-directs the Big Sky Aphasia Program, one of 12 nation-wide intensive comprehensive aphasia programs (ICAPs), which addresses holistic language rehabilitation for patients with aphasia and their caregivers. She graduated from the speech-language pathology graduate program at the University of Montana in 2014, with master's thesis focused on principles of neuroplasticity including intensity and dosage for aphasia rehabilitation. Jenna completed a clinical fellowship at St. Vincent Healthcare Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center located in Billings, Montana before returning to the University of Montana as a clinical faculty member in 2015. She is a member of the Montana Speech Language Hearing Association (MSHA), is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and a member of ASHA's Special Interest Group 2: Neurogenic Communication Disorders. She is a member of the Brain Research of Aphasia and Intensive Neurorehabilitation (BRAIN) Lab at the University of Montana, and her current research focuses on clinical aphasia rehabilitation within the context of an ICAP.

Rory Johnson

Clinical Lead and Advisor, Pharmacy, Neural Injury Center
Assistant Professor, Pharmacy, University of Montana

Distinguished Young Pharmacist (2010), MPA Excellence in Innovation Award (2014)

Since receiving his PharmD from the University of Montana in 2006, Rory has worked in a variety of settings including both chain & independent community pharmacies, the Montana Health Centers, and the Veteran’s Administration. In 2010, he became certified as an Asthma Educator and presently provides asthma education and MTM services to patients across Montana through a partnership with the State of Montana and Montana Family Pharmacies. He is an Assistant Professor at the University of Montana where he coordinates the Community Pharmacy Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience for fourth year pharmacy students. He is also extensively involved with IPHARM Pharmacy, a non-dispensing pharmacy that provides comprehensive medication reviews and chronic disease monitoring /education. Johnson has served as a board member on the National Asthma Educator Certification Board since 2014 and is currently chair of the research committee and co-chair of the exam committee. He also serves as Chair of the Montana Pharmacy Association (MPA) Board of Directors. In 2010, he was named Montana’s Distinguished Young Pharmacist and won the MPA’s “Excellence in Innovation” award in 2014. He is passionate about improving health access and outcomes, chronic disease self-management education, and is a strong advocate for the reimbursement of pharmacists and AE-C’s for their services.

John Harrison

Clinical Advisor, Neural Injury Center, Neuropsychology
Montana Neurocare, Private Practice

Dr. Harrison received his Ph.D. from Washington State University in 1989. He completed a child clinical internship at the University of Utah, Primary Children's Medical Center (PCMC) in Salt Lake City followed by a post-doctoral pediatric neuropsychology residency at PCMC in 1990, with a rotation in adult neuropsychology at the Neurology, Learning and Behavior Center. Affiliations include the International Neuropsychological Society, National Academy of Neuropsychology, and the American Psychological Association-Division 40 Clinical Neuropsychology. He has served as an advisory board member for the Montana Brain Injury Center and as a neuropsychological consultant to the University of Montana Neural Injury Center. Dr. Harrison currently specializes in the evaluation of neurological disorders resulting from traumatic brain injury, infectious diseases, environmental toxins, and other problems impacting the central nervous system in children and adults. He has been a neuropsychological consultant to the Missoula County Public Schools for the past 24 years, providing weekly neuropsychology clinics in the school setting. He is also on staff for Providence St. Patrick Hospital and Community Medical Center where he provides inpatient consultations to acute and rehabilitation settings. The remainder of his time is devoted to his private practice, Montana NeuroCare, conducting neuropsychological evaluations and training graduate students.

Valerie Moody

Clinical Advisory Board, Neural Injury Center
Program Director, Athletic Training Program

Valerie is currently in her 13th year at the University of Montana where she serves as Program Director of the Athletic Training Program. She serves as the President for the Montana Athletic Trainers’ Association, is a member of the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Review team, and is the Vice President for External Affairs for the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Research and Education Foundation. She serves on several committees at the local, regional and national level and is active in researching concussion legislation compliance in Montana, emergency preparedness in high school and youth athletics, as well as injury prevention strategies in Wild Land Fire Fighters. She is currently working on the development of the Montana Youth Sports Safety Institute focusing on education, advocacy, research and services to improve youth sports safety in Montana.


Susan Ostertag

Clinical Lead and Advisor, Neuro PT, Neural Injury Center
Clinical Assistant Professor, Associate Director of Clinical Education, School of Physical Therapy, Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy Excellence in Neurologic Education Award (2018)

Dr. Ostertag is a Clinical Assistant Faculty member at the School of Physical Therapy and The University of Montana, where she teaches neurological rehabilitation, vestibular rehabilitation, changes across the lifespan and geriatrics, clinical reasoning, and intervention courses. She is the Associate Director of Clinical Education, and oversees the service learning opportunities for the UMPT School. Susan graduated from the University of Montana in 1993 with her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy, and completed her transitional Doctorate of Physical Therapy in 2007 through A.T. Still University. Susan continues to provide patient care and student clinical instruction, primarily working with patients with neurological and other chronic conditions. She has been an APTA Board Certified Neurological Specialist since 2011. Scholarship and service revolve around translation of current neurologic and geriatric research into clinical practice as well as interprofessional education and community outreach.


Neil Shepard

Clinical Lead and Advisor, Vestibular/Oculomotor, Neural Injury Center
Professor of Audiology, Mayo Clinical School of Medicine, Emeritus

Dr. Shepard is former Chair of the division of Audiology and Director of the Dizziness and Balance Disorders Program at Mayo Clinic –Rochester. As Professor of Audiology, Mayo Clinical School of Medicine –emeritus, Dr. Shepard continues with a clinical private practice in Missoula, MT for the assessment and recommendations for treatment of patients reporting dizziness and balance disorder symptoms. He is also involved with research through the Mayo Clinic and teaching at the University of Montana. He received his undergraduate and masters training in Electrical and Biomedical Engineering from University of Kentucky and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He completed his PhD in auditory electrophysiology and clinical audiology from the University of Iowa in 1979. He has specialized in clinical electrophysiology for both the auditory and vestibular systems. Activity over the last 39 years has concentrated on the clinical assessment and rehabilitation of balance disorder patients and clinical research endeavors related to both assessment and rehabilitation. Dr. Shepard oversees the oculomotor testing lab at the Neural Injury Center.

JC Weida

Clinical Lead and Advisor, Athletic Training, Neural Injury Center
Head Athletic Trainer, University of Montana

J.C. Weida (pron. wide-ah) was named the Head Certified Athletic Trainer at his alma mater on June 25, 2013. He has served as an assistant athletic trainer at UM from 1996 to 2003, then became an associate athletic trainer, and was then elevated to the head position. The Rhinehart Athletic Training Center staff handles the health care of more than 350 student-athletes, and Weida oversees five full-time assistants and two graduate assistants. He assisted in producing and lobbying for the “MT AT License ACT” and “The Dylan Steigers Concussion Bill for the protection of youth athletes. He has also served as the MT Athletic Trainers Association, President and member of the NWATA board. He has given many lectures on concussion recognition, education, and return to play. He was recently appointed to serve on the Montana Licensing Board for Athletic Trainers. Weida returned to Montana after spending the 1995-96 school year an assistant athletic trainer at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. A native of Deer Lodge, Weida is a double graduate of The University of Montana. He received his B.S. degree in health and human performance with an emphasis in athletic training in 1992 and his M.S. degree in exercise sciences in 1995. He was certified by the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) in June of 1992.

Scientific Advisors

James Caringi

Social Science and Qualitative Research Advisor, Neural Injury Center
Professor and Chair, School of Social Work, University of Montana

James (Jim) Caringi is Professor and Chair at the School of Social Work, at the University of Montana. Jim received his B.A. from The State University of New York at Albany. He earned his M.S.W. from Boston University and his Ph.D. in Social Welfare from the State University of New York at Albany. His interests are in the areas of the primary and secondary traumatic stress (STS), creating trauma informed systems, child welfare. As a social scientist, Jim has expertise in mixed methods, qualitative, and action research. Jim has been awarded over four-million dollars in federal grants. He brings over 20 years of practice experience in both clinical and macro settings and has worked from the inner-city housing projects of Boston to the rural villages of Alaska where he lived and raised a family for over 7 years. Jim is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and is trained in evidenced based practice relative to the treatment of traumatic stress.


Kasper Hansen

Molecular Neuropharmacology Advisor, Neural Injury Center
Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Center for Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, and Center for Structural and Functional Neuroscience

Dr. Kasper Hansen received his Ph.D. in Molecular Pharmacology from University of Copenhagen, Denmark in 2006. Following a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Stephen F. Traynelis in the Department of Pharmacology, Emory University School of Medicine, he moved to University of Montana as Assistant Professor in 2013. Kasper Hansen is a faculty member of the Department of Biomedical & Pharmaceutical Sciences, the Center for Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics (CBSD), and the Center for Structural and Functional Neuroscience (CSFN). The molecular pharmacology and structure-function relationship of neurotransmitter receptors is an important focus of his research, and he has played central roles in identifying new ligands from assay development to compound screening and characterization of novel modulators. This effort has led to the discovery of multiple novel classes of small-molecule modulators of receptor function and several new, previously unrecognized modulatory ligand binding sites. These newly discovered modulatory sites can be exploited for the development of pharmacological tools and create new avenues for drug discovery. His research includes structural and mechanistic questions in neurophysiology and neuropharmacology as well as efforts to identify and validate novel strategies and new receptor targets that can be exploited for therapeutic intervention.

Diana Lurie

Diana Lurie, PhD
Neuropharmacology and Neuroinflammation Advisor, Neural Injury Center
Clinical Technician, Oculomotor Lab, Professor of Neuropharmacology, University of Montana

Diana I. Lurie, PhD., is a Professor of Neuropharmacology at The University of Montana. She received her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania. She directs a research laboratory focusing on CNS injury including stroke and toxic exposure, and the response of the nervous system to natural products. The Lurie laboratory is currently focused on the role that neuroinflammation plays in brain dysfunction, and is evaluating a variety of natural products for their ability to inhibit the release of proinflammatory cytokines from activated microglia in vitro. Dr. Lurie teaches in the areas of neuroscience pathophysiology. She is a certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and teaches courses in Ayurveda (The traditional system of Medicine of India).



Catherine Off

Speech and Language Advisor, Neural Injury Center
Associate Professor, Communicative Sciences and Disorders
Director, Brain Research of Aphasia andIntensive Neurorehabilitation (BRAIN) Lab

Catherine Off is an associate professor in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at the University of Montana and directs the Brain Research of Aphasia and Intensive Neurorehabilitation (BRAIN) Lab. She co-directs the Big Sky Aphasia Program, an intensive comprehensive aphasia program (ICAP) located at the University of Montana that is designed to improve speech, language, cognitive function, communication, and psychosocial well-being following stroke. On a national level she is affiliated with the Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences (ANCDS), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Special Interest Group 2: Neurogenic Communication Disorders. She completed her Ph.D. in Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington in 2008 with an emphasis on aphasia rehabilitation. She then worked as a lecturer at California State University -Northridge before taking her position at the University of Montana in 2011. Her research focuses on treatment intensity and rural outreach in the context of post-stroke aphasia rehabilitation, with a focus on both patient and caregiver outcomes and graduate student clinician training. Her team investigates principles of neuroplasticity as they relate to the rehabilitation of neurologic communication disorders.

Sarj Patel

Molecular Pharmacology and Biomarkers Advisor, Neural Injury Center
Co-Founder of FYR Diagnostics, LLC, GE-NFL Health Challenge Award and MREDI Initiative Award

Sarjubhai A. Patel is an Associate Research Professor of Molecular Pharmacology at the University of Montana, where he has been on the faculty of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy since 2011. After completing an undergraduate degree in Pharmacology at the University of Sunderland, UK, Patel received a M.Sc. in Neuroscience from the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London in 1994 followed by a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Montana in Missoula in 2000. Following a postdoctoral position at John Hopkins Hospital in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Patel returned to the University of Montana as a Research Associate in the NIH-COBRE Center for Structural and Functional Neuroscience. He is the recipient of two GE-NFL Head Health Challenge I awards and a Montana Research & Economic Development Initiative award for his work on traumatic brain injury. Research in the Patel lab group focuses on the changes in regulatory RNA molecules in diseases such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), ALS and brain tumors. Recent work by the Patel group has identified microRNAs that may serve as potential blood-based biomarkers for the development of novel diagnostic tests and potential therapeutics for neurological disorders. In 2016, he co-founded a Missoula based company, FYR Diagnostics, LLC to develop novel miRNA detection and biomarker technologies.

Thomas Rau

Applied Neuroscience and Innovation Advisor, Neural Injury Center
Co-Founder, Wintermute Biomedical, Fyr Diagnostics and VirtualMind
GE-NFL Health Challenge Award and MREDI Initiative Award

Dr. Thomas Rau is neuroscientist specializing in traumatic brain injury and stroke. He did his undergraduate work at UM in cell and molecular biology and continued his graduate work in neuroscience. He was previously an associate research professor in Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UM developing blood biomarkers for TBI diagnosis. Dr. Rau was one of the UM investigators awarded funding through the GE-NFL Head Health Challenge, and through the Montana Research and Economic Development Initiative grant. He has since left to start two private research companies, Wintermute Biomedical and VirtualMind. VirtualMind is designing new cognitive assessments for TBI and cognitive rehabilitation programs in virtual reality for PTSD and TBI recovery. Dr. Rau served in the US Air Force at Travis AFB from 1991-1994 and then Montana Air National Guard in Great Falls from 1994-1998.

Special Veterans Outreach Advisors

Charles Gatlin

Veterans Outreach Advisor, Neural Injury Center
Dept/Commander and Past Region III Commander for the Military Order of the Purple Heart

CPT Char Gatlin (ret) enlisted in the Army Infantry in 1998 and served in the 3rd U.S Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), Alpha Company (Commander-in-Chief’s Guard) until 2002. After reaching the rank of E-5, he applied for and was accepted into the Green to Gold Program at the University of Montana. He commissioned a 2LT of Infantry in 2004, graduating as a Distinguished Military Graduate with a BA in History. Char’s operational assignments include Operation Noble Eagle and 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, HI where he served with 2-35th Infantry Regiment (Cacti) in numerous command positions to include a combat deployment to Kirkuk, Iraq during the 2006-2007 Surge. Upon completion of service, he earned master’s degrees in Political Science and Public Administration in 2014 from the University of Montana. Char reviews Department of Defense research grants for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program and other organizations as a consumer reviewer. He was a sitting member of the 114th U.S. Congress Montana Veterans Advisory Committee and currently serves as a Trustee for the Foundation for Community Health. Char co-chairs the Consumer Advisory Board for the Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium, serves as the Consumer for the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine. He is the current Department Commander and past Region III Commander for the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Char is currently pursuing a PhD in Public Health at the University of Montana.

Shawn Grove

Veterans Outreach Advisor-Student Veterans, Neural Injury Center
Director, Vets Office, University of Montana, Officer Candidate, Montana National Guard

Shawn Grove graduated from Marshall University with a BA in Counseling in 2004. After a stint as a social worker for the state of West Virginia he enlisted in the US Army as a Persian Linguist for five years. He was deployed to Iraq for one year from 2005-2006. Since separating from active duty in 2009, he has been helping his fellow Veterans and their family members use VA education benefits. He began his career in higher education at the University of Maryland in the Office of the Registrar and eventually moved up to the Maryland Higher Education Commission for the State Approving Agency regulating VA education benefits in the state of Maryland. He and his wife, Ann, were married in Helena while Shawn was still serving on active duty. Shawn is currently an Officer Candidate in the Montana National Guard and has been the Director of the VETS Office since December 2013.


Terry Maki

LT. COL. TERRY MAKI, (Ret.), USAF Special Tactics
Veterans Outreach Advisor, Neural Injury Center

Terry spent 20 years in the US Air Force as a Special Tactics Officer. He was part of multiple deployments and contingencies including: Panama, Desert Storm, Bosnia, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He served as a Team Leader, Operations Officer, Squadron Commander, and headquarter staff, and was Military Freefall and combat dive qualified for his entire career. He played varsity football at US Air Force Academy, where he lettered for four years, was starting linebacker and recipient of All Conference honors for three years, and was a Kodak All American and Butkus Award finalist in his senior year. Lt. Col. Maki (ret.) holds a master’s degree in military art and science from US Army Command and General Staff College.




James Mariska

Veterans Outreach Advisor, Neural Injury Center
Montana Ambassador for the Commanding General of the Army Reserve

Colonel James Mariska enlisted in the US Army at Butte, MT in 1965. In 1967 he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant from Infantry OCS at Fort Benning, GA. Branch transferred to Military Intelligence, he began a career in counter intelligence and security analysis. His first of 3 field grade commands was with an ordnance battalion, followed by a training regiment and finally a corps support group. He retired in 1999 after 34 years of combined active and reserve duty. In 2000 he was inducted into the OCS Hall of Fame in the same class with General Tommy Franks. He is married to his wife Joy, also an Army veteran. He is a graduate of: the University of Montana; the Army Command & General Staff College; the National Defense University; the Army War College; He is a trustee of the UM Foundation, a member of the Yellowstone National Veteran’s Cemetery Board, Billings West Rotary; US Senator Daines’ Academy Selection Board, MT Rep to Vets4Energy; the American Legion, and appointed the Montana Ambassador for the Commanding General of the Army Reserve.