In the news / Brain

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The fifteen-year old daughter of UArizona researcher and BIO5 associate director Dr. Michael Hammer, had a disability of unknown origin in which she presented with epileptic seizures. It’s been over a decade since Shay has passed and Dr. Hammer spends every day in a lab at the University of Arizona studying the inner workings of the brain, trying to solve the mystery of her illness.
 
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Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, the director of the UA Center for Innovation in Brain Science whose work, alongside many other researchers, shows an association between menopause and an earlier emergence of Alzheimer’s in the female brain compared with the male brain.
 
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With the support of a new $3.8 million grant from the National Institute on Aging, a team of researchers, led by UA Department of Psychology professor and BIO5 member Dr. Gene Alexander, will investigate whether near-infrared light could help enhance cognition and reduce Alzheimer's disease risk in older adults. Dr. Ted Trouard, a BIO5 member and UA Biomedical Engineering professor, will serve as a co-investigator on the project.
 
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A team led by The BIO5 Institute's Roberta Diaz Brinton, PhD, director of the Center for Innovation in Brain Science, received the multi-million dollar grant from the National Institute on Aging. The five-year grant will fund a national multi-site Phase 2 clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of allopregnanalone, or allo, as a treatment for individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s who carry the genetic risk factor for the disease. This award supports the goals of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act.
 
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Dr. Kaveh Laksari, UA Assistant Professor of Aerospace-Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering and BIO5 member, along with researchers from Stevens Institute of Technology and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, look at the vulnerabilities of different brain regions and how this can impact the severity of damage from traumatic brain injuries.
 
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UA Neuroscience assistant professor and BIO5 member Dr. Haijiang Cai, lead a team of UA researchers to discover neurons within the brain that control one’s urge to eat in response to inflammation. Members of the Cai lab recently published an article in Nature describing their investigation of the cluster of neurons in the region of the brain connected to feeding behavior, with the aim of providing a new target for treating anorexia and other eating disorders.
 
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BIO5 Faculty Dr. Haijiang Cai, lead a team of UA neuroscientists in a new study which shows that multiple neurons within the brain come together to regulate the need to eat and feeling of fullness, or satiety.
 
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A new study led by scientists at the UA has uncovered a potential new way to treat patients with ALS, a debilitating neurodegenerative disease. “The fact that we uncovered a compensatory mechanism surprised me,” says UA Molecular and Cellular Biology professor and BIO5 researcher Dr. Daniela Zarnescu. “These desperate, degenerating neurons showed incredible resilience. It is an example of how amazing cells are at dealing with stress.”
 
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A team of UA researchers including Director of the Evelyn F Mcknight Brain Institute Dr. Carol Barnes, and UA Physiology professor Dr. Meredith Hay, both BIO5 faculty, have proposed a precision aging model designed to help researchers better understand and treat age-related cognitive decline on an individual level.
 
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Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's. "And once it begins, it's something that unfortunately we can't stop," said Dr. Matt Grilli, director at University of Arizona's Human Memory Lab. Now scientists are starting to get a clearer picture of the disease.
 
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Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition that has been associated with increased mortality. A UA physician-scientist has worked alongside BIO5 faculty members Drs. Raymond Woosley and Bonnie Lafleur, resulting in the awarding of a grant for research to analyze databases from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and Banner Health, to better understand the relationship between the sleep disorder and death.
 
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To understand our ability to remember changes as we age in hopes of improving it, and preventing Alzheimer's disease and dementia, researchers including Dr. Carol Barnes, Director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute and BIO5 faculty member, envision a field of "precision aging.”
 
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By studying a rare form of dementia along with scientists at University of Toronto's Baycrest Health Sciences Centre, a team lead by UA Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences Assistant Professor and BIO5 Member Dr. Aneta Kielar, might have found an early detection method for some forms of dementia.
 
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The Excellence in Prehospital Injury Care or EPIC project was funded by a $3.6 million grant from the NINDS, part of the NIH. Before EPIC, first responders were taught to hyperventilate people with a TBI. The researchers behind EPIC including BIO5’s Drs. Kurt Denninghoff and Chengcheng Hu showed that, during hyperventilation, internal carbon dioxide levels fall and this constricts the brain’s blood vessels depriving the brain of blood and oxygen.
 
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A team at the UA College of Medicine found that 75% of victims with neck and head injuries also have oral injuries, so local experts, including BIO5's Dr. Jonathon Lifshitz, Director of the UA Translational Neurotrauma Research Program, agree dentists could play a large roll in identifying and putting a stop to that violence.
 
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Arizona researchers including the BIO5 Institute's Dr. Eric Reiman, Executive Director of Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix, contributed to a recent study of former pro football players in an effort to diagnose a degenerative brain disease in living patients.
 
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BIO5's Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, an internationally recognized expert on Alzheimer’s disease and Inaugural Director of the Center for Innovation in Brain Science at UAHS, has received a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health Institute on Aging. With the funding, Brinton will develop a unique training program to cultivate a diverse pool of highly trained scientists from diverse fields who can effectively address the nation’s Alzheimer’s research needs.
 
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Tech Launch Arizona, UA’s technology commercialization arm, honored some of its most promising inventors and biggest supporters at the I-Squared Awards Banquet and Expo earlier this month. Awardees included BIO5's Director Dr. Jennifer Barton with Campus Collaborator of the Year award, as well as BIO5 member Dr. Louise Hecker who was named Inventor of the Year.