Current Grantees

Illuminating a gut-brain neural path for sensory signaling and pathogens

by Diego Bohórquez

The Investigators will use two optical imaging technologies in mice to explore whether a neural circuit that connects the gut to the brain may be the source of eating and anxiety-like disorders. The vagus nerve, the longest nerve in the human bod...
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Cortical Network Reorganization in Lower-Limb Amputees

by Jeffrey M. Yau

Investigators will use a novel combination of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to study how the functional connections between brain regions change in amputees who have lost a lower leg. Thes...
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In Vivo Imaging of Synaptic Density in Schizophrenia

by Patrick D. Skosnik, Ph.D., and Rajiv Radhakrishnan, M.D.

Investigators will use a newly developed positron emission tomography (PET) tracer in individuals with schizophrenia to examine whether this disorder, and its symptoms and degrees of severity, are directly associated with decreases in brain synaps...
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Hyperpolarized Pyruvate MRI to Characterize Glioma Metabolism Non-invasively in Man

by Kayvan Keshari, Ph.D.

A new type of MRI imaging that reflects the metabolism of brain tumor cells versus that of healthy brain cells may serve as an early biomarker of whether a tumor treatment is working. Aggressive brain tumors, called gliomas, can be potentially de...
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How might brain “astrocytes” alter nerve cell connections and contribute to Autism Spectrum Disorder?

by Nicola J. Allen, Ph.D.

This cellular imaging study in animal models will explore whether two genetically determined forms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have similar deleterious alterations in star-shaped cells, called “astrocytes,” that adversely affect brain develo...
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Fluorescence imaging may identify new molecules that increase the efficacy of pain medications

by Manoj Puthenveedu, M.D., Ph.D.

Investigators will use fluorescence imaging in a mouse model of chronic pain to identify small molecules that might potentially manage the pain without the addicting properties and other side effects of currently used medications.All currently use...
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Deep Brain Stimulation treatment effectiveness may be enhanced by using imaging to guide electrode placement

by Jennifer McNab, Ph.D.

This laboratory study in human tissues will determine whether a new imaging technique called “CLARITY” can enhance image-guided neurosurgery such that surgeons can optimally place deep brain stimulation (DBS) electrodes to treat depression, obses...
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MRI findings may identify a biomarker in people with schizophrenia who will develop psychosis

by Jared X. Van Snellenberg, Ph.D.

Investigators will use a type of fMRI imaging to see whether disconnections in a specific brain network are a biomarker for identifying clinically high risk schizophrenia patients who will develop a first episode of psychosis. Alternatively, thes...
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Constructing Brain Network Growth Charts as Objective Biomarkers of Behavioral Disorders

by Chandra Sripada, M.D., Ph.D.,

Just as pediatricians use growth charts to track typical and atypical physical development trajectories in children, investigators will work to create “brain network development growth charts.” These charts will be designed to detect early signs i...
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Can metabolic imaging of inflammatory brain disorders aid diagnosis and prognosis?

by Myriam Chaumeil, Ph.D.

A new type of molecular imaging being used in cancer diagnosis and treatment evaluation also may be applicable to early diagnosis and therapeutic assessment in inflammatory degenerative brain disorders such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), multip...
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Might progressive MS result from excess brain iron that is released due to inflammation?

by Ferdinand Schweser, Ph.D.

Using MRI imaging, the researchers will gather initial evidence of whether chronic inflammation induces cells deep in the brain to release too much iron that leads to the progressive form of multiple sclerosis (MS) and perhaps other degenerative ...
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Delivering drugs to precise targets in the brain may soon be feasible using MRI-guided focused ultrasound

by Raag Airan, M.D., Ph.D.

Investigators have demonstrated in a laboratory animal model that a newly evolving drug delivery system affects precise targets in the brain.  The system uses miniscule “nanoparticles” that encapsulate a therapeutic drug. Then ultrasound, guided ...
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Might fMRI reveal brain biomarkers of poor social functioning predictive of schizophrenia?

by Gaurav Patel, M.D., Ph.D.

Young adults who are at high risk of developing schizophrenia have severe impairments in social functioning, and the 20-30 percent of those who then convert to schizophrenia within a few months to a few years develop other severe problems that can...
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Cellular imaging may reframe current concepts about Parkinson’s disease processes

by Nicolas Tritsch, Ph.D.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by movement impairments and has long been known to arise following the death of a critical threshold of brain cells that use the neurotransmitter dopamine to communicate with one another. While the cells’ ...
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Might some brain therapies in animal models fail in humans due to fundamental differences?

by Mark Harnett, Ph.D.

Investigators will use two-photon imaging in human brain tissue removed during surgical treatment to explore their hypothesis that the human brain, compared to animal model systems, uses uniquely specialized information processing at the level of ...
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MRI findings may suggest physical therapy strategies to help MS patients walk and balance better

by Brett Fling, Ph.D.

This MRI study of the brain’s bundle of connections that link the left and right hemispheres may provide a basis for designing better physical therapy strategies to help people with MS improve their walking and balance abilities. Problems with wal...
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New MRI technique may aid assessment of treatment response in cancer patients with brain metastasis

by Jennifer Yu, M.D., Ph.D., and Pallavi Tiwari, Ph.D.

Investigators have developed and will validate a new method for analyzing MRI scans of cancer metastasis in the brain to see whether the metastasis are recurring following precision radiation therapy. About one of every five patients with cancers ...
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MRI imaging may provide biomarker of early vascular changes that increase Alzheimer’s risk

by Katherine Bangen, Ph.D.

Accumulating evidence suggests that brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) begin to develop long before AD symptoms become evident. Researchers, therefore, are searching for “biomarkers” that may be indicative of these early chang...
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Biomarkers may identify which children with optic glioma will need chemotherapy to preserve vision

by Peter de Blank, M.D.

This second phase study in 52 children with optic glioma will see whether two imaging techniques provide a reliable brain biomarker that differentiates those children who are at high risk of future vision loss from those who are not. An imaging bi...
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MRI may show how androgen-lowering prostate cancer therapy raises risk of diabetes and heart disease

by Katya Rubinow, M.D

This study will explore how androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) for treating prostate cancer may increase men’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Studies indicate that men with prostate cancer who are treated with drugs or surgery to suppress ma...
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Cellular imaging may reveal mechanisms of seizures in children that could lead to novel interventions

by Ethan Goldberg, M.D., Ph.D.

 This work uses an experimental animal model of a rare form of epilepsy that may lead to a broader understanding of the mechanisms of febrile seizures, the most common seizure type. Dravet syndrome is a form of epilepsy due to genetic mutation tha...
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Cellular imaging may reveal the neuronal basis of social motivation and how it can be disrupted

by Zoe Donaldson, Ph.D.

This animal study will examine the biological basis of social motivation and how it is disrupted in various attachment disorders. Investigators will use 3-D calcium imaging and “optogenetics” (which manipulates specific neurons through light) in f...
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Cellular imaging may link brain insulin resistance to neurodegeneration

by Li Ye, Ph.D.

This animal model study may help reveal how reduced sensitivity to insulin in the brain in Type 2 diabetes relates to neurodegeneration. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the body’s reduced sensitivity to the glucose-lowering hormone insulin. Th...
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Cellular imaging may tie neurodegeneration to specific disease symptoms

by David Schoppik, Ph.D.

A new animal model study may help determine how the abnormal protein tau contributes to disease. Several degenerative brain diseases involve an abnormal form of the protein tau but little is known about how this protein leads to the symptoms speci...
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Neuro-immune biotypes of depression: towards pathophysiology-based diagnosis and personalized treatment

by James Murrough, MD, Ph.D.

 Exploring a possible neuroimmune subtype of major depression and how it occurs in the brainThis study may lead to improved treatment for an inflammatory subtype of major depressive disorder (MDD). An estimated 40 percent of people with MDD may ha...
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New microscopy in human tissues may lead to PET diagnosis of degenerative disease signatures

by Anthony Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.

Investigators using a new microscopic technique in autopsy tissues from people with neurodegenerative diseases may be able to differentiate each disease’s molecular signature that could lead to diagnoses of patients through PET imaging. Neurodege...
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