Four HBI members recently awarded CIHR operating grants
According to Dr. Jun Yan, earning a CIHR award stands as a confirmation of the importance of his research pursuits. “It gives me the opportunity to make a contribution to my field and potentially, towards resolving important health care problems,” he says.
The honor of obtaining a CIHR grant is something he shares with three other HBI members: Dr. Andrew Demchuk, Dr. Ray Turner, and Dr. Frank Stahnisch. Each of these individuals has been awarded operating grants in the most recent competition to support their various research goals.
Dr. Ray Turner - identifying the synaptic mechanisms that can be targeted for intervention in disorders of cerebellar function
Dr. Ray Turner studies how the brain processes information. This CIHR operating grant will allow he and his team to examine signal processing in the cerebellum, the portion of the brain that is critical to motor control and numerous cognitive functions.
The cerebellum has long been known to be organized into different lobules (small subdivisions of the entire cerebellum), but despite all the work performed to date, the functional roles of the different lobules have remained an enigma. This work will be important for increasing our understanding of how sensory inputs carrying different forms of information to cerebellum are differentially processed across the different lobules. It will thus shed light on the synaptic mechanisms involved in producing normal cerebellar function, and thereby identify potential sites where disorders of cerebellar function (e.g. ataxia) arise and present potential targets for clinical intervention.
Dr. Frank Stahnisch - investigating important cultural influences of modern brain research
Dr. Stahnish has been awarded an operating grant to support his investigations into important cultural influences on modern brain research from a historical perspective. Although it is often assumed that the necessary ingredients of science (education, institutions, human and material resources) are universal, there is growing evidence from scholarly publications in cultural studies, sociology and history, that medical research and health care are also grounded in important local and cultural differences.
By applying a cultural view to neuroscience history, Dr. Stahnisch’s research will give new insights into both the forms of research organization and the development of institutional models in relation to their impact on modern neuroscience. This project will contribute to the advancement of knowledge in medicine as well as provide historical insights for use among respective stakeholders in the Canadian and international neurosciences.
Dr. Andrew Demchuk - determining how often the blood clots dissolves with stroke treatment
The treatment of strokes has greatly improved over the last few decades. With the development of targeted drugs, the damage produced by stroke can be minimalized. In addition, physicians are now able to use imaging technology (CT scans) to reveal the location of a blood clot in the blood vessel that resulted in a stroke. This CIHR grant will help to build upon these developments.
Currently, the accuracy of drug treatment to dissolve blood clots is ambiguous. Therefore, this CIHR grant will support the research project lead by Dr. Demchuk and a team of partnering physicians from multiple sites, to determine the effectiveness of clot dissolving drug treatments. Physicians will take an initial CT scan of the blood clot that resulted in the stroke. Four hours later, after the drug has been administered, they will take another CT scan to determine if the clot has dissolved and the drug treatment has been successful.
With this research, physicians will create a "score card" based on the patient’s history and features from their CT scan that will help determine the best course treatment and care for the patient. The research will enroll 350 patients over a period of three years.
Dr. Jun Yan - exploring the underlying changes in neural circuitry to sound
Dr. Jun Yan’s research group investigates how sound remodels or changes the brain. The brain acquires information from the external world, processes it and then produces an appropriate response. This is an automatic learning process based on neural re-wiring within specific brain circuits.
From infancy, our brain maps information as we are constantly exposed to sounds and other stimuli. For example, when we hear the sound of someone screaming, it alerts us to a sense of danger. We become very aware of our surroundings. However, when abnormalities occur in the processing of sound, it may result in brain dysfunction and can strongly influence the quality of life.
This CIHR grant allows Dr. Yan and his team to continue exploring the underlying changes in neural circuitry to sound with the intent of contributing to new treatments for hearing and cognitive disorders. It is his hope that his work may contribute to new clinical measures for the treatment of hearing and/or mental disorders including tinnitus, auditory hallucinations and autism.