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Medical College and UWM Researchers Receive $100,000 Grant to Develop Brain Stimulation System

Oct. 12, 2012

Scientists from the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee received a one-year, $100,000 John and Jeanne Byrnes CTSI Award to study novel technologies. The goal of the project is to design, assemble and test an integrated system for Optogenic Brain Stimulation-fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and demonstrate its use for exploring clinically relevant applications.

The primary investigator is Edgar DeYoe, Ph.D., professor of radiology at MCW. Co-primary investigators are Ramin Pashaie, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and Christopher Pawela, Ph.D., MCW.

Optogenetics employs genetic manipulation of targeted brain cells to make them photoreactive, thereby allowing them to be stimulated or inhibited by laser light pulses delivered through implanted optical fibers. Functional MRI is a powerful clinical tool for diagnosing brain tumors and other focal pathologies. Together, fMRI and Optogenic Brain Stimulation can identify causal relationships between sites in the brain; potential applications of the technology are broad.

This is one of 19 pilot projects being funded in 2012 through CTSI. The goal is to create synergy through collaboration, and studies are specifically designed to lead to major future research support. The projects explore findings that have the potential to be translated into clinical practice and community health, and are led by investigators at the CTSI’s eight partnering institutions: the Medical College of Wisconsin, Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, UW-Milwaukee, Froedtert Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the VA Medical Center, and the BloodCenter of Wisconsin.

CTSI is part of a national consortium of top medical research institutions. Working together, the CTSI institutions are committed to improve human health by streamlining science, transforming training environments and improving the conduct, quality and dissemination of clinical and translational research. The CTSI program is led by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Support for the Pilot Award Program comes from the National Institutes of Health, the John and Jeanne Byrnes CTSI Award, and both MCW’s Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin program, and MCW’s Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center.

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