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Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute to Collaborate with Top Brain Injury Group
Date:9/2/2009

Agreement Will Advance Research Connecting Brain Injuries to Neurological Disorders like Alzheimer's Disease

MORGANTOWN, W.V., Sept. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute (BRNI) announced today an agreement with a group of neurological specialists (Brain Injury Group) to examine possible confluences of the Group's work with brain injuries, head trauma, and strokes and BRNI's research. Together, they will explore the correlation between these injuries and various debilitating neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

BRNI is the world's only non-profit institute dedicated to the study of both human memory and diseases of memory. It was founded by West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) in memory of his mother, Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller, who died of Alzheimer's disease complications.

"The Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute is honored to explore the vast combinations of our human memory science and the important brain injury research of Dr. Bailes and Dr. Omalu," said Dr. Daniel Alkon, scientific director of BRNI. "Together, we will uncover the potential links between brain injury and diseases and disorders of human memory, including Alzheimer's disease."

The Brain Injury Group is led by Dr. Julian Bailes, Dr. Bennet Omalu and Robert Fitzsimmons. Dr. Omalu is a neuropathologist with extensive experience diagnosing brain injuries during autopsy, including former NFL players Mike Webster, Terry Long and Andre Waters. Dr. Bailes is a neurosurgeon and Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at West Virginia University School of Medicine. Their research focuses primarily on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE, also known as "punch-drunk syndrome" due to its prevalence among boxers, commonly manifests itself as declining mental and physical capabilities. The Group will work with BRNI scientists to research the full effects of CTE and similar brain injuries, how they affect the brain on a physical and neurological scale and their connections with neurological disorders. The goal will be to develop new ways to prevent and treat brain trauma and its long-lasting degenerative consequences.

"The brain still holds many mysteries and through our research with BRNI, we hope to unlock its secrets and, most importantly, identify treatments that have eluded science for years," said Bailes.

This combined scientific force comes at a critical time. CTE, believed to be caused by repeated concussions or sub-concussive blows, is appearing not only in boxers but also football players and other athletes of high-contact sports. Traumatic brain injury is also the second most common injury sustained by U.S. troops involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and many believe it could lead to cases of CTE.

Also as part of the agreement, BRNI and the Brain Injury Group will develop a "brain bank" that will reside at the Institute. Brains of athletes and others who suffered from head trauma and neurological disorders of varying stages will be studied and tested for treatments.

"This collaboration moves us closer to unraveling the human mind's unknowns," said Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), founder of BRNI. "It will have far reaching impact on many, from our families to our athletes to our soldiers."

About BRNI

BRNI is the world's only non-profit institute dedicated to the study of both human memory and diseases of memory. Its primary mission is to accelerate the transfer of neurological discoveries from the lab to the doctor's office where it can benefit patients who suffer from neurological and psychiatric diseases.

BRNI is operated in alliance with West Virginia University in Morgantown as well as in collaboration with other academic institutions such as Johns Hopkins University. West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller founded the Institute in memory of his mother, Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller, who died of Alzheimer's disease.


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SOURCE Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute
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