Friends of BrainHealth Awards Upcoming Scientists

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Friends of BrainHealth, a donor circle composed of ardent supporters of brain research who have made a significant financial contribution towards that end, have awarded the “Friends of BrainHealth Distinguished New Scientist Award” for the third year. This award is intended to support the work of exceptional researchers early in their careers and at pivotal stages and will facilitate highly innovative and exceptionally creative research related to the mission of the Center for BrainHealth. 

This year, the Friends of BrainHealth are pleased to announce two awards. Asha Vas was awarded $25,000 to study brain training in adults with traumatic brain injury, and Ehsan Shokri-Kojori was given $25,000 to examine healthy brain connections and neural communications. 

Brain injury is a leading cause of disability and affects lives and livelihoods of nearly two million people in the United States every year. Yet, a majority of brain rehabilitation programs are limited to training lower-level brain functions that do not significantly influence quality of daily life. Asha will train 10 civilians and 10 veterans to improve brain efficiency through the BrainHealth-developed Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training (SMART) program. She anticipates this reparative program will be the first of its kind to provide transformational brain training to brain injury survivors. 

Ehsan will use functional magnetic resonance imaging technology to assess the functional (activity-based) and anatomical (structure-based) associations between the brain regions. This study, for the first time, will integrate a broad range of functional and anatomical connectivity characteristics and will aim to establish a standard battery of connectivity criteria, allowing for fast and reliable assessment of healthy brain operation. More importantly, these findings will help to advance many future studies by providing diagnostic baselines to evaluate groups of participants with mild to severe cognitive impairments and to identify contributing connectivity characteristics affecting human cognition.

"We are thrilled to support the innovative brain research of two emerging scientists so that they can develop the evidence needed to pursue larger grants," said Kimber Hartmann, Friends of BrainHealth co-chair. "The Friends of BrainHealth Distinguished New Scientist Award will allow Asha and Ehsan to further their life-improving work."

Congratuations Asha and Ehsan!

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