Steven H. Graham, MD, PhD

Professor of Neurology


  • Vice Chair for Research, Department of Neurology
  • Connolly Family Chair in the UPMC Stroke Institute
  • Associate Chief of Staff for Research, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
  • Director, Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Graham’s research interests include neuronal cell death mechanisms in stroke, traumatic brain injury and neurodegenerative diseases. His basic science research concerns the role of oxidative stress and lipids in neuronal apoptosis and recovery after ischemia and trauma.  Specifically, much of Dr. Graham’s research is currently focused on the role of cyclopentenone prostaglandins and other oxidized lipids in neuronal cell death and dysfunction. In recent years, these efforts have focused on the lipid modification of UCHL1 and its role in injury and recovery after stroke and TBI. As Director of the Pittsburgh Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, he oversees a multidisciplinary center that conducts basic and clinical research in aging and aging-related diseases.

Education & Training

  • Post-Doctorate, University of California, San Francisco, Neurology and Neuroscience
  • Resident, University of California, San Francisco, Neurology
  • Resident, Baylor College of Medicine, Internal Medicine
  • PhD, University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Science, Biomedical Science
  • MD, University of Texas, Houston

Specialized Areas of Clinical, Research and/or Educational Interests

  • Research: Reactive lipid species, ubiquitin proteasome pathway, cerebral ischemia, traumatic brain injury, neuronal repair and recovery
  • Clinical: Stroke
  • Education: Clinician-Scientist Career Development

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Professional Organization Membership

  • American Academy of Neurology
  • American Heart Association
  • Society for Neuroscience

Honors & Awards

  • Award for Excellence for Teaching, Department of Neurology, University of Pittsburgh                            
  • Fellow, American Heart Association                                                                                                              
  • Fellow, American Academy of Neurology                                                                                                     
  • Federal Executive Board, Gold Award of Excellence
  • Outstanding Contribution to Science (Medical)                                                                                             
  • Outstanding Commitment to Excellence in Research to Improve Veterans' Lives, V.A. Pittsburgh Healthcare System

Selected Recent Publications

Liu H, Li W, Rose ME, Hickey RW, Chen J, Uechi GT, Balasubramani M, Day BW, Patel KV, Graham SH. The point mutation UCH-L1 C152A protects primary neurons against cyclopentenone prostaglandin-induced cytotoxicity: implications for post-ischemic neuronal injury. Cell Death Dis. 2015 Nov 5;6(11):e1966. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2015.323. PMID: 26539913; PMCID: PMC4670930.

Liu H, Rose ME, Ma X, Culver S, Dixon CE, Graham SH. In vivo transduction of neurons with TAT-UCH-L1 protects brain against controlled cortical impact injury. PLoS One. 2017 May 24;12(5):e0178049. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0178049. PMID: 28542502; PMCID: PMC5443532.

Graham SH, Liu H. Life and death in the trash heap: The ubiquitin proteasome pathway and UCHL1 in brain aging, neurodegenerative disease and cerebral Ischemia. Ageing Res Rev. 2017 Mar;34:30-38. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2016.09.011. Epub 2016 Oct 1. PMID: 27702698; PMCID: PMC5250550.

Liu H, Povysheva N, Rose ME, Mi Z, Banton JS, Li W, Chen F, Reay DP, Barrionuevo G, Zhang F, Graham SH. Role of UCHL1 in axonal injury and functional recovery after cerebral ischemia. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Mar 5;116(10):4643-4650. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1821282116. Epub 2019 Feb 13. PMID: 30760601; PMCID: PMC6410860.