Dr. Dalton Dietrich and Colleagues Receive $1.6 Million NIH Award

W. Dalton Dietrich, Ph.D., Scientific Director, The Miami Project, Kinetic Concepts Distinguished Chair in Neurosurgery, Senior Associate Dean for Discovery Science, and Professor, Neurological Surgery, Neurology and Cell Biology, and colleagues have received a National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke award to study the importance of brain temperature on mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) or concussion.  This competitive renewal application will be funded for 5 more years.

Over the last several decades, Dietrich and colleagues have investigated the role of small variations in temperature on neuronal vulnerability and functional outcomes after brain and spinal cord injury. This new study will clarify for the first time how relatively small increases in brain temperature at the time of a mTBI or concussion can worsen outcomes and how best to manage this common neurological disorder.

The proposal is based on the hypothesis that mild elevations in temperature commonly present in people during strenuous exercise or sporting events which can be a critical factor in determining outcomes. This possibility would be particularly relevant for civilian and military personnel with increased risk for brain injury that routinely engage in vigorous activities in high ambient temperatures and humidity. Dietrich and colleagues will clarify temperature-sensitive cellular and molecular events underlying these consequences including neuroinflammatory and microvascular perturbations.

“The growing appreciation for single or repetitive mild head injury potentially having long term consequences, including increased risk for neurodegenerative disorders, requires more scientific research at the bench and bedside,” said Dietrich.

Dietrich will collaborate with several neuroscience faculty including Helen Bramlett, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery and The Miami Project, Coleen Atkins, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery and The Miami Project, Juan Pablo de Rivero Vaccari, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery and The Miami Project, Robert Keane, Ph.D., Professor, Departments of Physiology and  Biophysics, Neurological Surgery and The Miami Project, Miguel Perez-Pinzon, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Neurology Director, Cerebral Vascular Disease Research Center, and Jae Lee, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery and The Miami Project on these multi-disciplinary studies.  The researchers expect this work to lead to a better understanding of why some people with head injuries recover from relatively mild insults while a significant percentage of others are left with more long-term emotional and memory problems. Also, novel or repackaged therapeutic treatments will be tested to target cellular and biochemical responses.