The Concussion Blog likes to highlight people, places and things that are helping with the awareness, prevention, identification, management, and rehabilitation of concussions. I recently had a good Twitter conversation with @ganglion11, known as Jonathan Lifshitz, PhD, whose research and group was responsible for our most popular video, Fencing Response. I asked him to give me an idea of what he and his group is doing, he wrote below;
The University of Kentucky’s Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center: A Homegrown, Basic Science and Translational Center Dedicated to Developing Novel Treatments for Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injury
In 1999, the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center (SCoBIRC; http://www.mc.uky.edu/scobirc/) was established at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine to promote individual and collaborative research on injuries to the spinal cord and brain that result in paralysis or other loss of neurologic function. The long-term goal of SCoBIRC is to find treatments for spinal cord and brain injury that are more effective in achieving functional repair of the injured central nervous system. The combination of brain and spinal cord injury investigation sets SCoBIRC apart from its contemporaries.
The creation of SCoBIRC was a direct result of the 1994 state legislation, which established the Kentucky Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Trust (KSCHIRT). KSCHIRT is funded annually by the surcharges on moving violations, violating the mandatory seat belt law and driving under the influence. Competitive research grants from KSCHIRT compensate for the disproportionate allocation of federal research funds towards other less prevalent major diseases. The fiscally wise allocation of funds has provided necessary freedoms to make SCoBIRC an internationally recognized Neurotrauma research center, and center for others to model.
Primary research endeavors focus on (1) the mechanisms and treatments of ongoing, progressive damage from spinal cord or brain injury and (2) pharmacological, replacement and rehabilitative strategies to promote repair mechanisms following spinal cord and brain injury. The faculty (http://www.mc.uky.edu/scobirc/faculty/faculty.html) are world-renowned scientists dedicated to finding and fighting the causes of morbidity that follow injury to the central nervous system. Researchers and clinicians from a variety of disciplines work together to promote multidisciplinary interactions and the cross-fertilization of ideas. Ongoing studies range from fundamental neuroscience research to their clinical applications.
SCoBIRC’s open design – both physically and intellectually – fosters creative, innovative and pioneering avenues for research into the causes and treatments for traumatic injury. Of note, the fencing response to objectively identify brain injury on the playing field was discovered in SCoBIRC laboratories.
In SCoBIRC laboratories today, research into the next generation of pharmacological and rehabilitation therapy continues. Research begins with rodent models of traumatic brain injury to explore fundamental neuroscience research into the loss of neurologic function and then evaluate rational treatments. Currently, the faculty, their students, staff and fellows are investigating – among other things – the therapeutic potential of growth factors, anti-oxidants, biological signaling inhibitors, metabolic inhibitors, and physical therapy.
The imminent need for effective traumatic brain injury treatments is constant reminder and motivator for our laboratory work. The path from the laboratory to the clinic or rehabilitation hospital is long and arduous. With our faculty, facilities and experience, SCoBIRC is a recognized nationally and internationally in Neurotrauma investigations.
The scientists at SCoBIRC are proud to be an integral part of the brain injury community, working towards effective treatments that will undoubtedly change lives.