Carmen Cirstea, MD, PhD, FAHA


Dr. Cirstea's career objective is to better understand the cellular/molecular mechanisms underlying brain plasticity in humans using state-of-the-art neuroimaging and behavioral techniques. Her studies focus on motor function, where deficits readily lend themselves to measurement. The main tools she uses are proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy, functional and structural MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, non-invasive brain stimulation, and human motion analysis. Such understanding would allow her and her team to develop new or modify current treatments to better target neural mechanisms underlying different neurological diseases. 

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Academic Information

Assistant Research Professor


1 Hospital Drive
Columbia, MO 65212
United States

P. 573-882-8792

Research Interests

  • Neuroscience
  • Neuroimaging
  • Human brain plasticity
  • Neurorehabilitation
  • Motor control
  • Motor learning
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Limb amputation
  • Chronic pain

Areas of Expertise

  • Neuroscience
  • Neuroimaging
  • Brain Plasticity and Recovery
  • Neurorehabilitation
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Limb Amputation

Education & Training

Medical School

University of Medicine and Pharmacy Carol Davila, 1993


University of Medicine and Pharmacy Carol Davila, Cantacuzino Hospital, 1994


University of Medicine and Pharmacy Carol Davila, 1995


Fellow in Neuroimaging, University of Kansas, 2006

Post-Graduate School

University of Montreal, 2005

Board Certification

General Medicine, 1993

Awards & Honors

  • University of Medicine and Pharmacy Carol Davila, Bucharest, Romania, 1990-93
    M.D. training award
  • University of Montreal, Montreal, Faculty of medicine, Montreal, Canada, 1996-04
  • M.Sc. training award, FRSQ-FCAR-Santé (Health Research Network of Quebec), 1997-98
  • M.Sc. training award, RRRMOQ (Rehabilitation Research Network of Montreal), 1997-98, declined
  • M.Sc. training award, REPAR (Rehabilitation Research Network of Quebec), 1997-98, declined
  • Best student poster award, Faculty of Medicine, 1998
  • Student travel awards, 1999-02
  • Ph.D. fellowship award, FRSQ-FCAR-Santé (Health Research Network of Quebec), 1999-01
  • Ph.D. fellowship award, Canadian Stroke Network, 2001-03
  • Ph.D. fellowship, Rehabilitation institution of Montreal, 2001-03
  • Award for excellence, Faculty of Advanced Studies, 2001-03
  • Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), Paris, France, 2000
  • Student fellowship award
  • Canadian Stroke Network, Ottawa, Canada, 2004-06
  • Postdoctoral fellowship award, declined
  • Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada, Montreal, Canada, 2004-06
  • Postdoctoral fellowship award
  • National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, National institution of Health, Pennsylvania, 2007
  • Award for Neuroimaging in the Study of Neural Recovery and Rehabilitation Symposium
  • University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, US, 2004-12
  • Faculty travel awards, 2007, 09, 11, 12
  • Employee Recognition, 2009
  • Invitation as moderator (Professor-lead tour), International Stroke Conference 2012
  • Regularly invitation to Stroke’s Editorial Board (Luncheon and Breakfast), 2007-present


  • Craciunas CS, Brooks WM, Nudo RJ, Popescu AE, Choi I, Lee S, Yeh HW, Savage CR, Cirstea MC. Motor and premotor cortices in subcortical stroke: proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy measures and arm motor impairment. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, ISSN: 1545-9683, 27(5): 411-20, 2013
  • Dietsch A, Cirstea MC, Auer ET, Searl JP. Effects of body position and sex group on tongue pressure generation. Int J Orofacial Myology, ISSN 0735-012039, 39: 12-22, 2013
  • Cirstea MC, Savage CR, Nudo RJ, Cohen L, Craciunas CS, Choi I, Lee S, Popescu AE, Yeh HW, Brooks WM. Handgrip-related activation in primary motor cortex relates to underlying neuronal metabolism after stroke. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, PMID: 24376066 [PMC Journal – In Process], 28(5) 433-42, 2014
  • Bani-Ahmed A & Cirstea MC. Positive effect of impairment-oriented training on N-acetylaspartate levels of ipsilesional motor cortex in subcortical stroke: a case study. Int J Physical Med&Rehab, ISSN: 2329-9096, 4(1). 325 2016
  • Cirstea MC, Peng, H, Kaufman CL, Frey SH. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy of current and former hand amputees reveals evidence for reversible neuronal-level changes in former sensorimotor cortex. J Neurophysiology (in press)
  • Craciunas CS, Ianosi B, Gorgan M, Lee P, Burris J, Cirstea MC. Remote motor system metabolic profile and prediction of surgery outcome in cervical spondylotic myelopathy. J Neurosurg Spine (in press)
  • Cirstea MC, Lee P, Craciunas CS, Choi IY, Burris J, Nudo RJ. Pre-therapy neuronal status of the ipsilesional motor and lateral premotor cortices predicts therapy gain after subcortical stroke – a pilot study. AJPM&R (in press)