During my undergraduate education I thought I was destined for medical school. Near the end of my bachelor’s degree I realized that I needed lab experience to make my application look stronger for medical school. I joined the laboratory of Dr. Brian Parr the summer before my senior year. I realized the beauty of science…I was investigating the complexities of mammal development and I was the only person who knew the answer to the questions we were investigation. My ambitions for medical school diminished as I began to pursue a future in science. After college I moved to Washington DC with my would-be wife to pursue science at the National Institutes of Health. I was accepted into the NIH-George Washington partnership program. My degree came from George Washington University but I did my research at the NIH. I had two great mentors Dr. Tim Hales at GW and Dr. David Lovinger at the NIH. From them I learned about the importance of surrounding yourself with brilliant hard-working people. For my post-doctoral training I joined the laboratory of Dr. Fernando Valenzuela where I studied the electrophysiological consequences of fetal alcohol exposure. After that I was given the opportunity to be part of the Center for Brain Recovery and Repair as the Preclinical Core manager. There I helped establish core facility and developed my independent research program studying mild traumatic brain injuries. Now, as an Assistant Professor I am a project lead within the Center for Brain Recovery and Repair and still associated with the great people within the Center.

Areas of Specialty

Mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs)


Post-Doc (2016):
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 

PhD (2011):
George Washington University
Washington D.C.

BA (2003):
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO

Achievements & Awards

  • UNM Graduate Student Retreat Keynote Speaker - 2017
  • Invited speaker for Rio Rancho Café Scientifique - 2016
  • UNM Graduate Student Retreat Keynote Speaker - 2014
  • UNM, Neuroscience Day, finalist for general public poster presentation - 2014
  • Invited speaker for New Mexico Café Scientifique - 2013
  • First place oral presentation GWU research day - 2008

Key Publications

  • Pinkowski NJ, Guerin J, Zhang H, Carpentier ST, McCurdy KE, Pacheco JM, Mehos CJ, Brigman JL, and Morton RA. Repeated Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries Impair Visual Discrimination Learning in Adolescent Mice. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. 2020 (in Press). 
  • Pacheco JM, Hines-Lanham A, Stratton C, Mehos CJ, McCurdy KE, Pinkowski NJ, Zhang H, Shuttleworth CW, Morton RA. Spreading Depolarizations Occur in Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries and Are Associated with Postinjury Behavior. eNeuro. 2019 Dec 4;6(6). PMID: 31748237 doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0070-19.2019.


He, Him


  • English


My lab is interested in the cellular and physiological mechanism that underlie concussions. We have identified that Spreading Depolarizations occur in these injuries and may play a critical role in cognitive disfunction and recovery. Spreading Depolarizations are massive events that propagate through the cortex causing a reduction in cerebral blood flow, a large shift in the extracellular potential, and suppress high frequency cortical activity (shown to the right). We are currently investigating the role of spreading depressions in the pathology and cognitive dysfunction that are associated with repeated concussions.

Courses Taught

  • Neurosciences Journal Club (BIOM 536), Instructor
  • Neurophysiology (BIOM 532), Co-Instructor
  • Methods in Cell Biology (BIOM 522), Lecturer
  • Undergraduate Pipeline Network (BIOM 410), Lecturer