UNLV and the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health were awarded $11.3 million in continuing grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to advance neuroscience research in Southern Nevada.
The joint Center for Neurodegeneration and Translational Neuroscience was initially funded in 2015 as the NIH’s first Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in Southern Nevada. The five-year continuation of the COBRE award builds upon a long-standing collaboration between UNLV and the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
Researchers from the two organizations have partnered over the past seven years to investigate diagnostic methods, health disparities, and therapeutic interventions related to neurodegenerative disorders, including work to better understand commonalities among disorders. They’ve also delivered a robust research infrastructure and advanced imaging capabilities to the region, and have supported the work of promising young researchers.
“Continuing this collaborative award creates tremendous opportunity to expand on the biomedical capabilities in our region and strengthen already great partnerships between the teams at UNLV and the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health,” said Jefferson Kinney, professor and director of UNLV’s Department of Brain Health. “As we have seen from the success in the first phase of the work, this interdisciplinary approach advances our understanding and ability to treat devastating neurodegenerative diseases and paves the way for future discoveries.”
The new award, which launches phase two of the collaboration, is co-led by Kinney and Dr. Aaron Ritter of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. During phase two, project partners will further develop existing projects related to biomarker, imaging, and clinical research. Plans also include creating pilot project funding and career development support for researchers, with the ultimate goal of building the infrastructure necessary to support the long-term success of the Center.
A major focus of the partnership includes advancing the work of promising early career researchers. Phase two funding will support multiple research projects, including work by UNLV psychologist James Hyman to better understand inflammation on behavior and memory-related brain activity; Cleveland Clinic neuropsychologist Christina Wong is exploring the relationship between systemic inflammation and cognitive decline; and UNLV psychologist Samantha John is investigating differences in health concerns and treatment outcomes by race and ethnicity for older adults at risk for neurodegenerative disease.
COBRE grants are part of NIH’s Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program, which supports faculty development and research infrastructure enhancement in states with historically lower levels of support from the NIH. In addition to the UNLV partnership with the Lou Ruvo Center, the university was awarded a COBRE grant in 2018 to build Nevada’s first center of excellence in personalized medicine.
About UNLV Department of Brain Health
The UNLV Department of Brain Health was formed by the School of Integrated Health Sciences in 2019 to advance research, education, and practice to benefit brain health and the care and treatment of people with brain disorders. The department’s faculty specialize in basic and clinical research in neurodegenerative disease, neuropsychology, and occupational therapy.