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Eric James Benner, PhD, MD

George W. Brumley, Jr. M.D Assistant Professor of Developmental Biology
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Campus mail: 2424 Erwin Road - Suite 504, Durham, NC 27710
Phone: (919) 668-1598
Email address:

As a neonatologist, my research interests revolve around improving the survival and quality of life of high-risk neonates cared for in Neonatal Intensive Care Units. My primary interest is perinatal brain injuries impacting both full-term infants and those born prematurely.  One of the most common forms of perinatal brain injury involves damage to white matter (myelin). My laboratory has developed models of perinatal brain injury to investigate how the endogenous neural stem cell responds to myelin injury. Our hope is to develop innovative strategies to successfully redirect stem cells into the oligodendrocyte lineage and promote myelination after injury.  In order to successfully restore myelination after injury, we want to better understand the molecular mechanisms governing 2 important aspects of myelin development. 

First, we must understand the molecular signals that drive neural stem cells to differentiate into oligodendrocytes (oligodendrogenesis) and how brain injury impacts this process. This interest has led my laboratory to investigate intracellular and extracellular changes that occur in the neural stem cell niche following injuries that lead to white matter damage. 

Secondly, after stem cell commitment to the oligodendrocyte lineage has occurred, we must understand the ongoing signals from the neural environment that influence oligodendrocyte maturation. For this work, my laboratory has developed an innovative technology to remotely control ion channels non-invasively using magnetic fields. Using this technology, we are developing strategies to alter the activity of targeted neural circuits both in utero as well as postnatally to understand the impact of altered activity on myelin maturation. Members of my laboratory are also currently using this technology to understand how altered temperature-gated channel activity in utero may contribute to birth defects associated with maternal fevers. 

Education and Training

  • Neonatology Fellowship, Pediatrics, Duke University School of Medicine, 2009 - 2011
  • Pediatric Residency, Pediatrics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2006 - 2008
  • M.D., University of Nebraska College of Medicine, 2006
  • Ph.D., University of Nebraska Omaha, 2005


Hutson, MR, Keyte, AL, Hernández-Morales, M, Gibbs, E, Kupchinsky, ZA, Argyridis, I, Erwin, KN, Pegram, K, Kneifel, M, Rosenberg, PB, Matak, P, Xie, L, Grandl, J, Davis, EE, Katsanis, N, Liu, C, and Benner, EJ. "Temperature-activated ion channels in neural crest cells confer maternal fever-associated birth defects." Science Signaling 10, no. 500 (October 10, 2017).

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Mankouski, A, Kantores, C, Wong, MJ, Ivanovska, J, Jain, A, Benner, EJ, Mason, SN, Tanswell, AK, Auten, RL, and Jankov, RP. "Intermittent hypoxia during recovery from neonatal hyperoxic lung injury causes long-term impairment of alveolar development: A new rat model of BPD." American Journal of Physiology. Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology 312, no. 2 (February 2017): L208-L216.

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Gendelman, HE, and Benner, EJ. "Control of Neuroinflammation for Therapeutic Gain." In Neuroimmune Pharmacology, 971-978.: Springer International Publishing, 2017.

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Inoue, M, Chen, P-H, Siecinski, S, Li, Q-J, Liu, C, Steinman, L, Gregory, SG, Benner, E, and Shinohara, ML. "An interferon-β-resistant and NLRP3 inflammasome-independent subtype of EAE with neuronal damage." Nature Neuroscience 19, no. 12 (December 2016): 1599-1609.

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Eapen, RJ, Taicher, BM, Benner, E, and Machovec, K. "Laryngeal Cleft." Anesthesiology (August 30, 2016).


Matak, P, Matak, A, Moustafa, S, Aryal, DK, Benner, EJ, Wetsel, W, and Andrews, NC. "Disrupted iron homeostasis causes dopaminergic neurodegeneration in mice." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113, no. 13 (March 2016): 3428-3435.

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Benner, EJ, Luciano, D, Jo, R, Abdi, K, Paez-Gonzalez, P, Sheng, H, Warner, DS, Liu, C, Eroglu, C, and Kuo, CT. "Protective astrogenesis from the SVZ niche after injury is controlled by Notch modulator Thbs4." Nature 497, no. 7449 (May 2013): 369-373.

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Benner, EJ, Luciano, D, Jo, R, Abdi, K, Paez-Gonzalez, P, Sheng, H, Warner, DS, Liu, C, Eroglu, C, and Kuo, CT. "Protective astrogenesis from the SVZ niche after injury is controlled by Notch modulator Thbs4." Nature 497, no. 7449 (2013): 369-373.

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Reynolds, AD, Stone, DK, Hutter, JAL, Benner, EJ, Mosley, RL, and Gendelman, HE. "Regulatory T cells attenuate Th17 cell-mediated nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurodegeneration in a model of Parkinson's disease." Journal of Immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) 184, no. 5 (March 2010): 2261-2271.

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Nester, CM, Benner, EJ, Latour, M, Nickeleit, V, Hamrick, H, and Primack, W. "Cryoglobulinemia and Glomerular Rhomboid Inclusions in a Child With Acute Kidney Injury." American Journal of Kidney Diseases 53, no. 5 (2009): 866-870.

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