Janis J. Daly, associate professor of neurology at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Research Career Scientist and associate director of the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center of Excellence in Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES), has been awarded funding as part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) $42.2 million program to fund 38 "exceptionally innovative research projects that could have an extraordinarily significant impact on many areas of science."
The grants, the first made in a new program called EUREKA (for Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration), help investigators test novel, often unconventional hypotheses or tackle major methodological or technical challenges. The NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) led the development of the EUREKA program.
Daly and her research team will receive approximately $1 million over the next four years.
"EUREKA is an experiment in how to attract, identify and support particularly creative approaches that, if successful, could move science forward dramatically," said Jeremy M. Berg, director of NIGMS. "One way EUREKA does this is through a specialized application and review process focusing on the significance and innovation of the proposal."
Daly will investigate the feasibility of using electroencephalography (EEG) signals to direct brain retraining following stroke. Directly and effectively treating the brain (where the stroke occurred) has the potential to more completely restore normal brain and motor function to a greater number of patients in a shorter rehabilitation time, Daly said.
Daly, whose grant came from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), praised the NIH for its forward-thinking commitment to innovative medical science research.
"I'm very honored and pleased that my research team and I have been given this significant award from NIH," said Daly, who directs the Cognitive and Motor Learning Research Program. "It is very satisfying that the NIH offered to the scientific community RFPs (requests for proposals). One of the requirements in the application was that the research had to be a futuristic-enough idea that it might not work out well. We have conducted preliminary work with a few stroke patients that suggests our methods will be feasible.
The long-term goal is to develop motor-learning intervention methods that are robust enough to return the stroke patient to participation in life activities, Daly says.
"The financial impact and individual human suffering are devastating after stroke, due to the lack of rehabilitation protocols that can restore normal brain function and motor skills," she adds. "Direct brain retraining has the potential to dramatically alter rehabilitation following a stroke."
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