Joseph Scafidi, DO, MS, is a research scientist and clinician for the Infant Neurodevelopment Clinic and the Phelps Center for Cerebral Palsy and Neurodevelopmental Medicine at Kennedy Krieger Institute. He is also an associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Scafidi’s clinical expertise includes pre-term, neonatal brain injury, hypoxic ischemia and neurodevelopmental disorders.
Dr. Scafidi received a bachelor’s of science degree in 1996 and a medical degree from NYU College of Arts & Science in 1999. After a pediatric residency at Rutgers University Medical School and a residency in child neurology at Children’s National Hospital, he completed a neonatology fellowship also at Children’s National. Dr. Scafidi was a postdoctoral research fellow in Developmental Neurobiology at Children’s National Research Institute and was named an associate professor in the Departments of Neurology and Pediatrics at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
In September 2021, he was named the director of the Michael V. Johnston Center for Developmental Neuroscience at Kennedy Krieger Institute.
All living systems require energy to survive and thrive. Their success or failure is solely determined by whether there is sufficient energy to fuel these processes. What can complicate this intricate balance is injury and the key role of energy. The Scafidi Laboratory is interested in understanding metabolic adaptations after perinatal brain injury in the acute and long-term recovery phase. Specifically, we aim to understand how different cell populations in different brain regions utilize energy after injury, and how these adaptations or maladaptations affect the recovery process. Understanding these processes will allow us to delineate the brain’s innate ability for recovery and develop novel, targeted therapies that will promote neurorehabilitation.
Dr. Scafidi’s research has demonstrated that metabolic factors contribute to the long-term functional, ultrastructural and behavioral deficits in rodent models of developmental brain injury. Dr. Scafidi’s research program is focused on three major areas: i) the mechanism by which enhancing epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling enhances the mitochondrial-dependent oxidative metabolism of glucose; ii) the important role of pyruvate dehydrogenase complex on neural progenitor cell maturation after brain injury; and iii) how perturbations in metabolic adaptation after neonatal brain injury disrupt the developmental trajectory of fatty acid metabolism.
Our laboratory uses a integrated, multidisciplinary state-of the art approach that include molecular biology and genetics, cellular neurobiology, biochemical assays, functional mitochondrial measurements, metabolic phenotyping, MR imaging, 13C,1H-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, and a wide range of neurobehavioral testing. This multi-faceted approach to understanding brain injury and recovery allows us to test potential interventions.
As a practicing pediatric neurologist, Dr. Scafidi’s laboratory is ideally positioned to facilitate bench to bedside therapies and improve knowledge of disease by seeking processes with bedside to bench research driven hypotheses.