Fulfilling a promise

Vital Signs » Spring 2014
photo of neurology xrays
photo of Dr. Hopkins at First Annual Neuroscience Institute Symposium
photo of Timothy Cope
photo of Neuroscience Engineering Collaboration Building Groundbreaking
photo of neurology equipment

The Wright State University & Premier Health Neuroscience Institute was unveiled on February 24, 2010, with the promise to speed the transfer of research discoveries from bench to bedside, improving the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders such as stroke.

This collaboration between the Dayton region’s most advanced biomedical research institution, Wright State University, and the clinical resources of its largest hospital system, Premier Health, has resulted in a synergy that will accelerate translational research and transform discoveries in research laboratories into breakthroughs in patient care.

The institute has made great strides since its genesis in 2010.

May 2012: Department of Neurology established

Following his appointment as chair of the new Department of Neurology in May 2012, Kenneth J. Gaines, M.D., M.B.A., hired a core team of faculty who specialize in such areas as stroke, epilepsy, movement disorders, and critical illness.

The department continues to recruit for a movement disorders specialist and is seeking at least one more neurology generalist. In addition, the department is seeking another epileptologist to assist with the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at Miami Valley Hospital and with cutting-edge deep brain surgical procedures focused on the treatment of epileptic seizures.

November 2012: First Annual Neuroscience Institute Symposium

In November 2012, the first annual Neuroscience Institute Symposium was held at Wright State University. Presentations explored the underlying mechanisms for the development of epilepsy, indications and outcomes for the surgical treatment of epilepsy, interventional treatment options for acute stroke management, and the mechanism of neurological involvement in critical illness.

In November 2013, the Neuroscience Institute held its second annual symposium, “Selected Topics in Translational Neuroscience.” Presentations addressed the research into therapy for myasthenia gravis, research into therapy for vasospasm, therapeutic options to prevent cerebral ischemia in preterm neonates, and how stress adversely impacts health.

March 2013: $4.6 million NIH Neuroscience Research Grant

In early 2013, Wright State won a $4.6 million National Institutes of Health grant aimed at improving the movement of badly injured limbs—funding that will accelerate the growth and productivity of the rapidly developing neuroscience research on campus and support the research and graduate training programs that will be housed in the new Neuroscience and Engineering Collaboration Building.

The grant will explore how the central nervous system responds to injury of peripheral nerves. The research can lead directly to new therapies to help soldiers and others recover near normal function after injuries to a limb.

This award builds on the research performed in the first $4.8 million Program Project Grant awarded to the team in 2007. In that research, investigators identified several key, long-term adaptations that occur after nerve injury even if nerve regeneration itself is successful. These adaptations point the way to new therapeutic strategies that will improve recovery from movement and other disorders that remain long after nerve injury.

Timothy Cope, Ph.D., Brage Golding Distinguished Professor of Research, chair of the Department of Neuroscience, Cell Biology and Physiology and codirector of the Wright State University & Premier Health Neuroscience Institute, said there is a growing national awareness of the success in neuroscience at Wright State.

“One of the benefits is that we’re attracting first-rate students and training very highly skilled technicians, such as experts in microscopy, who have become vital assets to the community,” Cope said.

“We not only have the knowledge and core facilities necessary to do top-flight research, we also have the scientists, graduate students, and technicians necessary to conduct research that will improve people’s lives.”

The grant was one of only two of its type awarded that year by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, which is part of NIH. The five-year grant is for research titled “Synaptic Function: Effects of Nerve Injury, Repair and Altered Activity.” Wright State investigators involved in the project include Cope; Robert Fyffe, Ph.D., vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School; and Mark Rich, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neuroscience, cell biology and physiology, and neurology at the Boonshoft School of Medicine. Also collaborating is Francisco Alvarez, Ph.D., of Emory University.

April 2013: Groundbreaking for Neuroscience Engineering Collaboration Building

In April 2013, Wright State broke ground on the new state-of-the-art Neuroscience Engineering Collaboration (NEC) Building. The $37 million facility will house leading engineers, neuroscientists, fellows, and medical students working and learning collaboratively. By working shoulder-to- shoulder, scientists and physicians will have an invaluable opportunity to generate and share innovative ideas, support one another’s work and collaborate to achieve more than they could in isolation.

The 90,000-square-foot NEC Building will feature laboratories, shared core infrastructure, state-of-the-art equipment, and research resources for engineers, scientists, physicians, students, and post- doctoral researchers. A 105-seat auditorium will provide space for seminars, workshops, and advanced teaching sessions. The building is expected to be completed by February 2015.

Fyffe said the building has been strategically designed to encourage random interactions between the neuroscientists and engineers. “The goal is that these scientists, engineers, and physicians will work together to address significant problems and through the synergies, resources, and talent available in the NEC Building come up with very creative transformational answers to the questions,” he said.

Wright State researchers are working to find treatments for stroke, epilepsy, traumatic brain and spinal injury, neurodegenerative diseases, and other medical problems. People who occupy the new building will build upon the current research and investigate why blood vessels in the brain burst, develop imaging techniques to track neurological diseases, help people at risk for depression and disorders of learning and memory, work to regenerate damaged nerves to their fullest possible function, and develop treatments for conditions like sleep apnea, SIDS and ALS.

November 2013: Neurology Residency Program approved

In November, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education approved the new residency program in neurology at the Boonshoft School of Medicine.

The new program, which will begin on July 1, 2014, was approved to accept up to 16 residents, who will train at Miami Valley Hospital, the Clinical Neuroscience Institute located at Miami Valley Hospital, Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Dayton Children’s Hospital.

“We seek to graduate neurologists who are prepared to meet the challenges presented by the rapidly expanding body of knowledge in the neurosciences,” said Bradley Jacobs, M.D., M.S., director of the residency program and associate professor of neurology. “We have carefully designed a program that builds the basic strengths necessary to become an outstanding clinical neurologist and, for those interested in research, to develop into a first-rate physician scientist.”

The residency program is closely aligned with other programs within the medical school, including neurosurgery and psychiatry. Areas of specialization in the neuroscience program include behavioral neurology, cerebrovascular disease, child neurology, clinical neurophysiology, critical care, epilepsy, movement disorders, neuroimaging, neuroimmunology, neuromuscular disease, neuro-oncology, neuro-ophthalmology, pain management, psychiatry, and sleep disorders.

Some Neuroscience Institute scientists are included on the faculty of the Neurology Residency Program. Faculty from the Neuroscience Institute will help provide basic neuroscience education and research opportunities for the residents.

“The creation of the neurology residency programs allows us to fulfill one of the original goals of the Neuroscience Institute— to improve patient care in the Dayton region,” said Marjorie Bowman, M.D., M.P.A, dean of the Boonshoft School of Medicine. “By bringing new physicians to the region, the new residency program, working in tandem with the Wright State University & Premier Health Neuroscience Institute, will enhance patient care locally in a wide spectrum of neurological disorders such as stroke, epilepsy, movement disorders, critical illness, and more.” VS

—Heather Maurer

Last edited on 04/18/2016.