Helping Heroes — Drs. Thomas Aldrich and Charles Hall each have received funding from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study obstructive airway disease (OAD), a common problem among 9/11 World Trade Center (WTC) responders. OAD is often but not always associated with bronchial hyperreactivity (BHR, asthma-like excessive sensitivity of airways). Dr. Aldrich will re-examine firefighters who had or did not have BHR soon after 9/11, to determine whether BHR is associated with excessive lung function decline and whether this effect is reduced in those who received asthma medication. Dr. Hall will investigate whether WTC exposure continues to be associated with new onset OAD in responders more than 10 years following the event. These studies will help shape existing policies that fund healthcare for WTC responders. They also will help identify potential long-term health risks that may be relevant to other environmental or occupational exposure incidents. Dr. Aldrich is professor of medicine; Dr. Hall is professor of epidemiology & population health and of neurology.
Discerning Sounds — Dr. Elyse Sussman has received a renewal grant for $1.7 million over five years from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, in support of her study of the neural mechanisms that contribute to the perception of sound and the ability to distinguish between various auditory sources. The inability to select a single sound when there are multiple sources competing with one another is a common complaint among elderly individuals and others with hearing loss, which also hinders communication ability. By studying the sound organization of adults with normal hearing, Dr. Sussman and colleagues aim to gain understanding of how the auditory system adapts and responds to environments in which various sound sources compete for attention. Their findings could help advance our understanding of auditory perception, as well as offer insights that contribute to the development of medical technologies such as hearing aids and other prosthetic devices. Dr. Sussman is a professor of neuroscience and of otorhinolaryngology.
Heady Success — Dr. Michael Lipton has been awarded a $200,000 grant by the Dana Foundation, as part of its David Mahoney Neuroimaging Program, to study soccer heading-related brain injury. A private, New York based, philanthropic organization, the Dana Foundation supports brain-related research through grants and educational public outreach efforts. Dr. Lipton’s research on the effects of heading, a move in which soccer players direct the ball with their head, received national press attention last year and informed the public of its potential dangers. The foundation’s funding supports his continuing studies, through which he will use state-of-the-art imaging techniques to further understand the brain injury that occurs. Dr. Lipton is associate director of the Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center and associate professor of radiology, of neuroscience and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.