Gene Gurkoff, Ph.D.

Gene G. Gurkoff, Ph.D.


Traumatic Brain Injury


Neurological Surgery


Mouse Models



  • Associate Professor


Neurosciences Building

1515 Newton Ct.
Davis, CA 95616
Driving Directions

Primary Phone:

Philosophy of Care

My primary research interests are in traumatic brain injury and epilepsy.  The primary focus of traumatic brain injury research is acute neuroprotection.  The majority of epilepsy research is related to reducing seizures.  There is little research in either field related to the chronic injury-related dysfunction including cognitive, and social deficits.  Moreover, there are minimal efforts to develop innovative therapies to improve the quality of life for these individuals with chronic behavioral and emotional dysfunction.

My lab uses animal models of traumatic brain injury and epilepsy to better understand the physiological and anatomical basis for chronic cognitive and social deficits in both the pediatric and adult rat.  Our current focus is on using advanced in-vivo electrophysiology techniques to identify systems-level changes in brain function and with the goal of developing novel and innovative neuromodulatory approaches for treating patients suffering chronic cognitive deficits following traumatic brain injury.

Clinical Interests

Dr. Gurkoff’s current research focuses on how brain injuries, such as traumatic brain injury and epilepsy, can lead to alterations in brain connectivity, brain excitability and cognitive dysfunction.  Moreover, Dr. Gurkoff hypothesizes that using techniques to modulate neural activity, either electrically or chemically, can entrain injured networks and improve outcome.  

His goal is to work with his surgical colleagues to translate innovative and efficacious therapeutic interventions for trauma and epilepsy patients from the bench to the bedside.

Research/Academic Interests

Dr. Gurkoff is interested in using neuromodulation, therapies delivered to specific targets within the central nervous system, to improve quality-of-life in patients with neurological disorders such as traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease or brain tumor.

Dr. Gurkoff collaborates with multiple investigators in the Center for Neuroscience as well as throughout UC Davis Health to develop and test exciting new hypotheses in the lab with the goal of translating therapies from bench to bedside.

As treatment of neurological disease is too complicated for any one investigator to solve, Dr. Gurkoff is dedicated to training the next generation of physician (residents and medical students) and research (high school, undergraduate, master's and Ph.D.) scientists who one day will play a critical role in advancing novel therapies for currently untreatable disorders. 


Neurological Surgery

Center/Program Affiliation

Center for Neuroscience


Ph.D., Neuroscience, UC Los Angeles, Los Angeles CA 2006

B.S., Brown University, Providence RI 1998

Professional Memberships

American Epilepsy Society

National Neurotrauma Society

Society for Neurosciences

Honors and Awards

International Neurotrauma Society Student Travel Award, 2011

Above and Beyond Award for outstanding contributions to the Education efforts at the University of California Davis, NSF Center for Biophotonics Science & Technology, 2008, 2009,

National Neurotrauma Society Alan Faden Award of Excellence for top abstract and poster presentation at the Annual National Neurotrauma Society Meeting, 2005

International Neurotrauma Society Student Travel Award, 2004

UC Davis Neuroscience Graduate Group: Outstanding Graduate Mentor in Neuroscience Award, 2018,

UC Davis Neuroscience Graduate Faculty: Outstanding Service Award, 2018,

Select Recent Publications

Ondek K, Brevnova O, Jimenez-Ornelas C, Vergara A, Zwienenberg M, and Gurkoff GG. A New Model of Repeat mTBI in Adolescent Rats. Experimental Neurology. 331; 113360, 2020.

Moxon K, Shahlaie K, Girgis F, Saez I, and Gurkoff GG. From adagio to allegretto: The changing tempo of theta frequencies in epilepsy and its relation to interneuron function. Neurobiology of Disease. 129; 161-181, 2019.

Izadi A, Pevzner A, Lee DJ, Ekstrom A, Shahlaie K, and Gurkoff GG. Medial septal nucleus stimulation increases seizure threshold and improves cognitive function in a rodent model of temporal lobe epilepsy. Brain Stimulation. 12(3); 735-742, 2019.


Scangos KW, Carter CS, Zhang L, Gurkoff GG, and Shahlaie K.  Theta frequency stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus improves cognitive dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease. Brain Stimulation. 11(2); 456-458, 2018.

Izadi A*, Ondek K*, Schedlbauer A, Keselman I, Shahlaie K, and Gurkoff GG. Clinically Indicated Electrical Stimulation Strategies to Treat Patients with Medically Refractory Epilepsy. Epilepsy Open. 2018

Lee DJ, Izadi A, Melnik M, Seidl S, Echeverri A, Shahlaie K, and Gurkoff GG. Stimulation of the medial septum improves performance in spatial learning following pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus. Epilepsy Res. 2017;130; 53-63.

Pevzner A, Izadi A, Lee DJ, Shahlaie K, and Gurkoff GG.  Making Waves in the Brain: What Are Oscillations, and Why Modulating Them Makes Sense for Brain Injury (Review). Front Syst Neurosci. 2016.

Kolarik BS, Shahlaie K, Hassan A, Borders AA, Kaufman KC, Gurkoff GG, Yonelinas AP, and Ekstrom AD. Impairments in precision, rather than spatial strategy, characterize performance on the virtual Morris Water Maze; A case study. Neuropsychologia. 2015; 80; 90-101.

Lee DJ, Gurkoff GG, Izadi A, Echeverri A, Melnik M, Berman RF, Ekstrom AD, Muizelaar JP, Lyeth BG, and Shahlaie K. Hippocampal theta frequency modulation for cognitive and electrophysiological improvement following traumatic brain injury. J Neurotrauma. 2015;32(22); 1822-1832.

Lee DJ, Gurkoff GG, Goodarzi A, Muizelaar JP, Boggan JE, and Shahlaie K. Intracerebroventricular opiate infusion for refractory head and facial pain. World Journal of Clinical Cases. 2014; 2(8); 351-356.