CNS Medical Director and Vice President, Dr. Randall Benson, is a globally regarded behavioral neurologist and imaging neuroscientist who is recognized for developing new, more effective treatments for incapacitating brain disorders (TBI, MS, and stroke) through the use of advanced, functional MRI methods, which provide unprecedented understanding of brain function and disease.
Dr. Benson completed his Neurology Residency at Boston University and the VA Hospital, learning from world-renowned clinician-researchers in brain dysfunction.
A Passion for Behavioral Neurology
Dr. Benson’s strong desire to go beyond the conventional (and limited) methods of behavioral neurology research led him to become the first dual Research Fellow in Behavioral Neurology and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) at Harvard Medical School and the esteemed NMR Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. During his fellowship, Dr. Benson pioneered a new technique, fMRI, for mapping language areas in the brains of neurosurgical patients. His leadership eventually led to FDA approval for “fMRI pre-surgical mapping” in 2007 and now is a clinical procedure performed throughout the U.S. and globally.
Continuing Research and Clinical Practice
Dr. Benson’s research and clinical practice through Novi, Michigan-based Center for Integrated Neurology are strongly focused on disorders of the brain and cognition. Dr. Benson’s commitment to finding novel ways to enhance recovery of function after stroke led to multiple foundation and industry-sponsored investigations into the use of targeted electrical/magnetic stimulation of the brain in motor and language impairment following stroke. In a phase III clinical trial investigating the effect of electrical stimulation of the motor area on weakness following stroke, no significant effect was observed over the 21 U.S. sites collectively. Wayne State University, with Dr. Benson as the site PI, was the second leading enroller of research subjects in the study, which obtained highly significant results. Similarly, promising preliminary results were obtained in two of four chronic language-impaired stroke patients treated with the non-invasive repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in a 6-week trial. Additional funding is required to continue these promising studies.
Since 2004, Dr. Benson has worked closely with a team to develop and validate advanced imaging methods to detect traumatic injuries in mild cases of closed head injury. Their work has led to funding from the National Institute of Health, Department of Defense, and The National Football League, among others. Dr. Benson testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee for 20 minutes on head injury in football and lectured at a Department of Defense-sponsored workshop regarding the diagnosis of mild TBI (mTBI) in soldiers, using advanced imaging methods (June 2-3, 2010, Chicago). Dr. Benson lectures frequently to attorneys, other physicians, and researchers on TBI and advanced imaging methods.
A History of Thought Leadership in Brain Injury Research
Dr. Benson has held a number of titles including: Research Fellow–Depts. of Neurology (Neuropsychology) and the Radiology (NMR Center), Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA; Attending Physician and Assistant Professor–University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT; Assistant Professor, Attending Neurologist, Co-Director Traumatic Brain Injury Imaging Laboratory at the Detroit Medical Center (DMC) and Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. Dr. Benson has been the principal investigator or co-investigator on research supported by globally recognized institutions including the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Institute of Health (NIH), the National Football League (NFL), the Charles A. Dana and the Ralph O. Wilson Foundations, and Northstar Neurosciences, in addition to intramural grants.
Dr. Benson’s research on brain disorders is usually high impact and cutting edge. His earliest fMRI work in patients was featured on a segment of NBC’s Today Show in 1994. His use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the brain in stroke patients was the topic of an AP Press article and a Time Magazine article. Most recently, his TBI imaging research led to his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee and an interview with Sports Illustrated.