UF Researchers Awarded BRAIN Center Seed Funds to Advance Brain Injury Research

Four University of Florida researchers have been awarded BRAIN Center Seed Funds to support innovative projects focused on brain injury, rehabilitation, and neuroresilience. Distributed by the Brain Injury, Rehabilitation, and Neuroresilience (BRAIN) Center, these funds aim to advance research and innovation in these critical fields. The BRAIN Center’s mission is to facilitate knowledge exchange among clinicians and researchers, leveraging the collective expertise and resources of the UF community.

According to Dr. Michael Jaffee, Director of the BRAIN Center, “These seed funds play a crucial role in supporting cutting-edge research that addresses the pressing challenges in brain injury and neurorehabilitation. We are thrilled to see the innovative projects led by our talented researchers, and we look forward to the impact they will make in advancing our understanding and treatment of these conditions.”

Dr. Jose Abisambra, Deputy Director of the BRAIN Center, added, “The diversity of projects funded by the BRAIN Center Seed Funds underscores our commitment to fostering interdisciplinary collaborations and driving innovation in brain injury research. These initiatives exemplify the collaborative spirit of the BRAIN Center and its dedication to improving outcomes for individuals affected by brain injury.”

The following investigators received awards to help support their groundbreaking research:

  • Breton Asken, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology
    Project: “Plasma biomarkers in traumatic encephalopathy syndrome (TES) and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE): A pilot bridging discovery to targeted proteomics”
    This project aims to quantify over 100 neurodegenerative and inflammatory proteins in plasma from cognitively impaired older adults at high risk for CTE. Utilizing the novel NULISA™ multiplex platform, this study seeks to identify specific biomarkers for accurate diagnosis and understanding of CTE, ultimately contributing to the development of targeted treatments for neurodegenerative effects of repetitive head trauma.
  • Teng J. Peng, MD
    Assistant Professor, Department of Vascular Neurology
    Project: “Development of a Virtual Reality Environment to Evaluate Visual Field Defects in Patients with Stroke”
    Dr. Peng’s project focuses on developing a virtual reality (VR) environment to quantify visual field defects in stroke patients, aiming to simplify detection and improve access to care. By piloting the VR paradigm and comparing results with standard-of-care tests, this project seeks to generate a reliable and portable tool for future rehabilitation programs, aligning with the BRAIN Center’s mission of advancing research in brain injury and neurorehabilitation.
  • Clayton Swanson, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor, Department of Behavioral Neurology
    Torge Rempe, MD
    Assistant Professor, Department of Neuro-Multiple Sclerosis
    Project: “Engaging Minds, Empowering Lives: Assessing MS Patients’ Interest in a Home-Based Self-Delivered Intervention for Improving Mobility Function”
    Drs. Swanson and Rempe are assessing patient interest in a home-based self-delivered intervention to improve motor function in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). By gathering patient feedback through structured surveys, they aim to tailor interventions and advance knowledge in brain injury, rehabilitation, and neuroresilience.

The BRAIN Center seed funds are made possible through the state of Florida’s Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Research Trust Fund. Each recipient will receive a grant of $5,000 to support their research endeavors. The recipients will also deliver a BRAIN Building lecture concerning their research projects in 2025, with the date and time to be announced next year.

These awards highlight the ongoing commitment of the BRAIN Center and McKnight Brain Institute to support innovative research that addresses critical health challenges, fostering a collaborative environment that encourages groundbreaking discoveries.