Dr. Deborah A Shear
Director, Brain Trauma and Neuroprotection Branch
Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience,
Walter Reed Army Institute of Research
Dr. Deborah Shear earned her Ph.D. in experimental Psychology from Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI while working as a Scientist and Lab Director at Field Neurosciences Institute (FNI), Ascension Health Medical System, Saginaw, MI. Her doctoral dissertation focused on the use of neural stem cell transplantation, biomedical engineering, and progesterone as therapeutic strategies for traumatic brain injury (TBI) and was conducted in collaboration with Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Shear joined the WRAIR Brain Trauma Neuroprotection Branch as a GS Scientist in July of 2007. During the early years of her tenure she served as Principle Investigator on Combat Casualty Care Research Program (CCCRP) Army core-funded projects focused on neural stem cell transplantation, neuroprotection, anti-seizure combination therapy studies, post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) models, and selective brain cooling therapeutics for TBI.
In 2009, Dr. Shear was awarded the Applied Neurotrauma Research Award through the Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Program to address the problem of recognizing the markers and long-term effects of single and repeated concussion. Dr. Shear led her team investigated how cellular changes resulting from single and repeated concussion relate to clinically-relevant molecular (i.e. TBI biomarkers, bioenergetics, and metabolomics), neurobehavioral, and electrophysiological (EEG) outcomes. In support of these efforts, Dr. Shear’s team developed the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) Projectile Concussive Impact (PCI) model of concussion in rats. The PCI model generates a closed-head concussion that is comparable to injuries experienced by troops, allowing for the reproducible generation of closed-head mTBI across a wide spectrum of injury severities, and incorporating the use of a custom-designed helmet equipped with pressure sensor film. This contributed directly to a US patent: “Device and Method for Inducing Brain Injury in Animal Test Subjects” (US 8,973,565 B2); and a second patent subaward for the helmet sensor system.
In 2012, Dr. Shear was promoted to a GS15 Supervisory Biologist and in 2016 she was promoted to Director of the BTN Program. As Branch Director, Dr. Shear is responsible for leading and supervising a research team comprised of 10 Ph.D. scientists and 20 technical staff and provides critical research oversight and supervisory support essential to the planning, coordination and performance of the mission-approved and fully funded neuroscience research program to study the functional, cellular and molecular dynamics of central nervous system injury as it relates to TBI and the development novel neuroprotective and neurorestorative therapies for the soldier exposed to repeated concussive impact injury and penetrating (ballistic and non-ballistic) brain trauma.
Dr. Shear has received honorary awards from the Commanding General (MRMC), the WRAIR Commander, and the Department of Defense Army National Guard (Patriotic Employer Award). In addition, her research with the Operation Brain Trauma Therapy Consortium has been cited in the New England Journal of Medicine and by the FDA. She has published over 65 peer-reviewed manuscripts, book chapters, and has delivered numerous oral and poster presentation at national and international conferences. Dr. Shear also serves as the Capability Area Manager (CAM) for the Combat Casualty Care Research Program (CCCRP) TBI Portfolio, overseeing approximately $6.5M of Army core funds designated for TBI research at DoD intramural laboratories. During the past 3 years as Director, Dr. Shear has successfully pivoted her research program to align more directly with the changing requirements of CCCRP to include establishing partnerships focused on developing innovative point-of-injury therapeutics and establishing a large animal model of TBI/polytrauma in swine.