The DMCBH Innovation Fund Kickstart Research Grant is intended to help kick-start new research collaborations, directions, and technological developments. It supports new projects that generate preliminary data for future grant applications to external funding agencies.

The following are DMCBH researchers who have received this year’s Grant. Congratulations to all the winners!

Drs. Annie Ciernia and Urs Hafeli: Mechanisms of Peripheral Lipopolysaccharide Induced Brain Inflammation. 

It remains unknown how peripherally delivered Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) impacts the blood brain barrier BBB and activates microglia in the brain. This pilot proposal seeks to address this limitation by directly imaging peripherally delivered LPS as it interacts with the BBB and the central nervous system in vivo.

Drs. Brian MacVicar, Louis-Philippe Bernier, Matilde Balbi, Mohamad Seyed Sadr and David Chen:  A new target for aneurysmal SAH-induced vasospasm: P2Y14-dependent cerebral vessel constriction.

It is believed that blood leakage into the brain is the main trigger for aSAH (aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage)-induced vasospasms, however little is known about the mechanism and signals leading to vessel constriction. Treatments currently used in the clinic are inadequate and do not directly address the vasoconstriction problem.

His team proposes that activation of P2Y14 receptors on cerebrovasculature smooth muscle cells and pericytes by the release of endogenous UDP-glucose (UDP-Glc) induces SAH-vasospasm.

Drs. Lynn Raymond and Peyman Servati: Chronically stable neural interfaces for basic discovery and future therapeutics 

State of the art neural probes are manufactured with high-density, multi-electrode arrays that allow simultaneous recording from hundreds of neurons in a living brain. However, these rigid silicon structures are not tailored to the tissue mechanics of the brain. There is increasing interest in flexible electrodes made of softer materials that reduce the mechanical mismatch between the probe and tissue. There are currently no commercially available probes that can follow single neuron activity (single-units) beyond ~two weeks and as such there is a great opportunity to innovate in this space.

Drs. Paul van Donkelaar,  Alexander Rauscher, Vesna Sossi, Cheryl Wellington and Will Panenka: Characterizing tau pathology in survivors of intimate partner violence-related traumatic brain injury

It is becoming increasingly apparent traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a factor in the challenges faced by women who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV). An important unanswered question is whether IPV-related TBI has any long-term neurodegenerative consequences. It is known that tau pathology occurs following mild repetitive head impacts and has been associated with the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in former collision sport athletes. It would not be surprising if similar neuropathological processes underlie the long-term sequelae typically observed in survivors of IPV. This question will be addressed using this kickstart grant.

Drs. Rebecca Todd, Stan Floresco, Luke Clark and Trisha Chakrabarty: Neurophysiological and behavioural indices of active and inhibitory  avoidance in health and major depressive disorder

Humans with mood disorders often display context-inappropriate avoidance behaviours. Active and inhibitory avoidance are specific strategies where an individual must either perform or withhold an action to avoid aversive outcomes. Although avoidance is an established component of anxiety disorders, and is implicated in depression, human research has mostly relied on questionnaire data and failed to distinguish between active and inhibitory avoidance subtypes. The long-term goal is to translate findings from preclinical rodent research to probe specific components of active and inhibitory avoidance in healthy human subjects, and establish relevance of these mechanisms to MDD.