Grantee Q & As

Interviews with Dana Foundation grantees on their research and its applications.

May 29, 2019

Stimulating Rehabilitation After Stroke

It’s hard for doctors to predict who will recover fully after a stroke and who may not. Dana Foundation grantee Roy Hamilton is investigating using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to take measurements of the injured brain’s plasticity to see if this can predict how well it is healing.

April 24, 2019

Finding the Rhythm of Literacy

Dana grantee Nina Kraus and her lab discovered that synchronization ability, like tapping your foot along to a beat, matches the rapid brain activity linked to reading, language and phonological skills. Understanding children’s rhythmic strengths and bottlenecks could help teachers help them improve language skills.

March 20, 2019

Seeking an Image of the Smallest Strokes

Microinfarcts are too small to be detected in living humans. Dana grantee Andy Shih is working on new types of imaging that might someday be sharp enough to detect these tiny blood-vessel clogs.

January 16, 2019

Seeking the Triggers for Parkinson’s

Dana Grantee Xin Jin has found a new role for the dopamine pathway D2—not just a brake but a switch.

December 18, 2018

Going Small to Attack Cancers

Dana Grantee Michelle Bradbury uses nanotechnology to test possible treatments for cancer that target the disease and avoid healthy tissues.

October 23, 2018

Frontal Lobe Deficits and Financial Scams

Dana Grantee Natalie Denburg studies what makes some older adults more susceptible to fraud, and finds it’s probably not early dementia.


Connecting the Dots to Find a Protein that Affects Tau

A variety of brain troubles can trigger tau to form tangles, leading to diseases like chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and Alzheimer’s. While working to develop much-needed animal models that mimic the tricky process, Dana Foundation grantee Stanley Prusiner, M.D., found another protein, sortilin, that appears to govern tau’s actions.

Imaging Immune Therapies in Brain Tumor Patients

Brain tumors are the most common type of cancer occurring in children aged 14 and younger—as well as the leading cause of cancer death in that age group. Pediatric neurosurgeon Samuel Cheshier is working on new technologies to improve immunotherapy treatments and track their effectiveness over time.


When a Defective Heart Damages the Brain

Timing of Surgery May Be Key to Preventing Cognitive Complications of Congenital Heart Defects

Congenital heart defects can lead to significant, long-lasting cognitive deficits. Daniel Licht discusses his research on preventing such deficits, and how the timing of surgery may be a key factor in improved outcomes.

Who's in Charge?

Discovery of Conflict-Sensitive Cells in Cortex Helps Parse Neural Circuitry of Cognitive Control

Sameer Sheth's discovery of conflict-sensitive cells in the cortex helps shed light on the neural circuitry of cognitive control.

Almost Invisible to the Immune Response

More than 30,000 people in the US contract Lyme disease each year; the inflammatory disorder can lead to long-term complications with the skin, heart, joints, and brain. We talk to Dana grantee Mark Wooten about his research into how the causal bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, can become almost invisible to the mammalian immune system after infection, making the disease difficult to diagnose and treat.

Music as the Brain’s Universal Language

In his recent research, Charles Limb found that musicians used the language areas of their brains when performing instrumental improvisation. In our new Scientist Q&A, he ponders the question: Could music be the mind’s universal language?


Brain Stimulation + Imaging Pack Dual Punch to Treat, Unravel Depression Circuitry

Amit Etkin's lab is investigating the use of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in combination with whole-brain EEG and functional MRI (fMRI) to treat depression and to help unravel its underlying brain circuitry.

A Study of Motivation

It’s difficult to know what motivates people, but R. Alison Adcock’s lab is using imaging to study how states like desire and curiosity can facilitate “motivated memory.” Her work could have implications in the education field, but also in other learning contexts like psychotherapy and behavior change.


High-Tech Imaging Targets Brain Damage in Kids with Malaria

Despite being a common disease, little is known about how malaria affects children’s brains. Using high-field MRI to scan children in sub-Saharan Africa, Dana grantee Michael Potchen and his team shed light on what may cause malaria-related brain swelling, which can lead to death and morbidity.

Imaging of Cognitive Impairment from Soccer Heading-Related Brain Injury

Study indicates there may be a heading threshold above which the risk for brain damage increases significantly

Dana Foundation grantee Michael Lipton is looking at the cumulative effect of soccer heading impacts by monitoring changes in brain structure and function with diffusion tensor imaging and cognitive tests.

Targeting Inflammatory Diseases With Electrical Signals

Devices, Not Drugs, Take Aim at Vagus Nerve

Dana grantee Kevin J. Tracey, a pioneer of “bioelectric medicine,” and his colleagues are testing vagus nerve stimulation devices for possible use in severe rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.


Probing Synaptic Pruning

Immune Cells Play Unexpected Roles in Normal Brain Development and Disease

Dana grantee Beth Stevens, Ph.D., discusses the unexpected roles immune cells play in normal brain development and disease.

Music, Art, and Cognitive Benefit: Separating Fact from Fallacy

Dana grantee Elizabeth Spelke discusses the future direction of arts and cognition research, and puts into perspective the media attention given to her recently published study on the effects of music classes on math abilities in children.

What Neuroimaging Really Measures

Parsing Out An ‘Anticipatory’ Brain State Improves Relevance of fMRI Signals to Neural Activity

The way fMRIs currently measure neural activity may be more complex than widely thought. Dana Foundation grantee Aniruddha Das explains how he showed that fMRI measures multiple types of neural activity, and how this finding could lead to clearer interpretation of imaging results.


Synchronicity and Hyperexcitability in the Autistic Brain

Dana grantee Carlos Portera-Cailliau's lab discovered new insights about autism by studying the firing patterns of networks of neurons in a mouse model of Fragile X syndrome.

Dying to Regrow

Dissecting the Role of Programmed Cell Death in Spinal Cord Regeneration

Programmed cell death has been viewed traditionally as a process that needs to be turned off in spinal cord injury, but research from Dana grantee Aravinthan Samuel’s laboratory at Harvard suggests that it may play a critical role in axon regeneration.


Imaging Early MS

New MRI Technique Reveals Potential Biomarker of Inflammation and Target for Less Toxic Multiple Sclerosis Treatments

Dana grantee John Chen discusses how a new MRI technique reveals a potential biomarker of inflammation and a target for less toxic multiple sclerosis treatments.

The Drunken Brain

MRS imaging yields clues to alcohol’s neural effects

Visualizing Hearing

Brain Imaging May Improve Outcomes in Deaf Children with Cochlear Implants

Dana grantee John S. Oghalai, M.D., talks about his use of Near-Infrared Spectroscopy as a diagnostic tool to improve cochlear implants in deaf children. He shares his team’s progress and what the new use of this technology may mean for children with these implants.

Deep Brain Stimulation for Severe Depression

New results suggest it works, but how?


Tracking the Tracts

Rare Disease Yields Clues to Early Myelin Development

The current treatment for a baby diagnosed with Krabbe disease, a rare and often fatal neurodevelopmental disorder affecting the motor system, can be very effective, but it also carries a 30 percent chance of death. Dana grantee Maria Escolar’s research may provide a better way to diagnose and treat infants with this and other motor diseases before the onset of visible symptoms, when treatment works best.

Ignorance and the Undertreatment of Addiction: Lessons from Prison

Dana grantee Charles O’Brien discusses his research to combat alcoholism and drug addiction using naltrexone and his frustration at the reluctance of many doctors to treat addiction with medication.

Sleep, Aging & Alzheimer’s

New Genetic Findings Reveal Clues to the Brain’s ‘Sleep Switch’

Dana grantee Clifford Saper, Harvard University, discusses his research into the connection between sleep problems in aging and an area of the brain known as the “sleep switch.”

Mirror Therapy for Phantom Limb Pain

Brain Imaging Study Aims to Unravel How Reflective ‘Trick’ Relieves Amputees’ Pain

Dana grantee Jack Tsao, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, discusses his research into how mirror therapy can relieve phantom limb pain suffered by amputees.


Bioethics in the Classroom

An Interview with Arthur Caplan, Ph.D. and Dominic Sisti, Ph.D.

The High School Bioethics Project aims to increase discussions about bioethics in high school classrooms through a combination of curriculum development, online initiatives, and outreach programs. In our grantee Q&A, Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., and Dominic Sisti, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania discuss the project, started in 2007.

Separating the Bad from the Good in Neuroimmunology

Dana grantee Michael Dustin, one of the world's foremost authorities on visualizing immune response in nervous systems, describes the new imaging techniques he and his colleagues are using to study the behavior of T cells in real time in mouse models of meningitis and multiple sclerosis.

A Glimpse of Stem Cells in the Living Human Brain

Dana grantee Mirjana Maletic-Savatic, Baylor College of Medicine, discusses the novel method she and her team are pioneering to track neurogenesis–the growth of new neurons–in the living human brain.

Shifting Paradigms for Intensive Care of Severe Brain Injury

Dana grantee Stephan Mayer discusses the approach he and his team are pioneering to monitor brain function in patients with critical neurological injuries.