Research Faculty | Frederick Willyerd,MD Neurotrauma Research

Frederick Anthony Willyerd, MD, a native of Arizona, is an energetic clinician-scientist. As such, he functions as a pediatric intensivist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital treating critically ill children in a 48 bed pediatric intensive care unit and carries out research at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix in the Department of Child Health. Dr. Willyerd received his bachelor of science degree in health sciences from University of Arizona then received his medical degree from Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska. After returning home to Phoenix, Dr. Willyerd completed his pediatric residency at Phoenix Children’s Hospital/Maricopa Medical Center before moving to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to complete three year specialized training in pediatric critical care at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Willyerd enjoys teaching eager minds in the hospital and lab, supporting medical students, undergraduates and graduate students, and post-docs in their scholarly pursuits.

PROJECT: The effect of traumatic brain injury on multidrug resistance transporters and drug levels in animals and humans.

  • Title: Association of single nucleotide polymorphisms in multidrug resistance transporters to brain penetration of fentanyl, phenytoin, phenobarbital, and levetiracetam and six month outcome after severe traumatic brain injury in human patients
  • PI: F. Anthony Willyerd, MD
  • Description: New evidence suggests variation in the expression of drug transport proteins at the level of the blood brain barrier (BBB) after traumatic brain injury (TBI) which could lead to disproportionate drug levels in the brain than the doses intended.Additionally, single nucleotide changes in the genetic coding for these same transporters could alter handling of important therapeutic drugs. This study will define serum and cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) drug levels of common medications used in TBI, namely: fentanyl, phenytoin, phenobarbital, and levetiracetam. We will assess for associations of drug levels, genetic polymorphism, and 6 month outcome through statistical analysis. We hypothesize that decreased brain penetration of fentanyl, phenytoin, phenobarbital, and levetiracetam after severe TBI will be positively associated with poor outcome. This could suggest a need for altered drug dosing in the brain injured patient.
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PROJECT: Temporal and cellular changes of multidrug resistance transporters in brain injury

  • Title: Changes in multidrug resistance transporter expression and cellular localization in the adult rodent brain after severe traumatic brain injury: looking at both hemispheres during a clinically relevant time course
  • PI: F. Anthony Willyerd, MD
  • Description: The blood brain barrier is a dynamic structure with a myriad of components. Yet, little is known about the effect of trauma on crucial proteins such as multidrug resistance transporters which affect the biochemical milieu of the brain. This study aims to describe the temporal changes of specific multidrug resistance transporters in both the injured and uninjured portions of the brain after severe traumatic brain injury in a rat model. The study will also describe these changes in relation to cellular localization in order to better understand the physiologic underpinnings of traumatic brain injury.


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