03/18/2008

NIH awards WVU researchers nearly $1.6 million for stroke studies

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Physicians and scientists at West Virginia University will use a nearly $1.6 million National Institutes of Health grant to investigate the role of aging in stroke injury.  Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and the third leading cause of death in the United States.

The grant was awarded to Jason Huber, Ph.D., assistant professor in the WVU School of Pharmacy Department of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Charles Rosen, M.D., Ph.D., director of WVU Neurosurgical Research.

“This project started with a basic question of how we could help stroke patients,” Huber said.  “The government spends billions of dollars testing stroke drugs on young rats only to have them fail when put to real use in patients.  We thought: why not test those drugs on older animals?”

According to Rosen, younger rats suffering a stroke have a zero percent death rate.  Older rats have a 30 to 40 percent death rate from stroke, which is a rate similar to human death rates.   The mortality rates, stroke volume and behavioral deficits lead the researchers to believe that older rats are more representative of humans than are younger rats.

 Jason Huber, Ph.D., assistant professor in the WVU School of Pharmacy Department of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Charles Rosen, M.D., Ph.D., director of WVU Neurosurgical Research.  Photo by H. Specht
“This grant will allow us to develop better techniques and identify new targets that are relevant to stroke in the elderly,” Rosen said.  “WVU has a unique, modern stroke center focused on improving clinical care.  Our stroke research will eventually be able to leverage and expand on that care, possibly leading to better outcomes for patients.”       

Neurosurgeon Rosen and basic scientist Huber are part of the Neural Injury Group within the WVU Center for Neuroscience

“The ability of Drs. Huber and Rosen to attract NIH funding is a key step in our expansion of stroke research programs at WVU,” WVU Center for Neuroscience Director George Spirou, Ph.D., said.  “Our goal is to become a top center for understanding stroke mechanisms and devising and testing new stroke therapies.”

“WVU has put together one of the most advanced neurosurgery programs in thecountry,” Julian Bailes, M.D., chair of Neurosurgery at WVU, said.  “When we combine that expertise with the exceptional talents of our neuroscientists, we advance our knowledge of the causes and possible cure for stroke.”

The greatest strides in biomedical research are achieved with the interdisciplinary approach, according to Fred Butcher, Ph.D., interim vice president for Health Sciences at WVU.

“This collaboration illustrates that WVU is integrating research across the traditional clinical and basic sciences disciplines,” Dr. Butcher said.  “We’re emphasizing research that can directly affect patient care.”

The NIH funds will be disbursed over a five-year period beginning April 2008.  The money will go toward hiring additional postdoctoral researchers and funding graduate students and research studies.

For more information on the WVU Center for Neurosciences, visit www.hsc.wvu.edu/wvucn/.

- WVU -


08-047
For more information:
Cassie Waugh, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087
waughc@wvuh.com
cw: 03-18-08

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