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Burke Medical Research Institute Scientists Awarded Research Grant from Dana Foundation for Stroke Research

Released February 17, 2012

Richard Sgaglio , Ph.D.
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Burke Rehabilitation Hospital
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“Burke Medical Research Institute Scientists Awarded Research Grant from Dana Foundation for Stroke Research”

WHITE PLAINS, NY – February 17, 2012 -- The Burke Medical Research Institute—the research entity of the Burke Rehabilitation Center—has been awarded a three-year, $250,000 scientific research grant by the Dana Foundation. The Dana Foundation is a private philanthropic organization that supports brain research through grants, publications and educational programs. This particular grant, called the Clinical Neuroscience Research Grant, will fund the study of ischemic stroke patients to help identify epigenetic markers that play a role in stroke recovery.

The team of investigators includes: Rajiv R. Ratan, M.D., Ph.D., executive director of the Burke Medical Research Institute and professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College; Jessica F. Elder, Ph.D., instructor of biostatistics and epidemiology at The Burke Medical Research Institute and Weill Cornell Medical College; as well as Giovanni Coppola, M.D., director of the Semel Center for Informatics and Personalized Genomics at UCLA.

“In order to help patients reach their maximum recovery potential, we must first identify the (many) factors that influence recovery,” Elder said. “Only then can we modify behaviors or biological mechanisms to improve patient outcomes."

The study could have significant impact because the researchers will be looking to identify epigenetic markers that could help determine how well a patient may do in post stroke rehabilitation. Traditional indicators of how well a patient may do in post stroke rehabilitation have been limited to individual factors such as initial impairment or disability and the type, size and location of stroke a patient suffers.

It is the hope that someday a simple blood test can serve as an indicator of how well a patient will respond to traditional rehabilitation methods. “This new research can open the door for tremendous breakthroughs in stroke research and rehabilitation. The benefits could be far reaching as it can help physicians counsel patients about what comes after a debilitating brain injury and also provide information to scientists that may be key to future rehabilitation programs,” Ratan stated. “This type of grant is significant because it extends much of the work being done in the Institute to the patient bedside. Specifically, the grant will focus on epigenetic biomarkers that can help determine how a patient will do in post stroke rehabilitation.

“Understanding more about why some patients recover from stroke and other brain injuries can lead to changes in how we approach rehabilitation and ultimately help patients,” he added.

Funded by grants and private donations, Burke’s Medical Research Institute is involved in cutting-edge basic, translational and clinical research, providing new knowledge that can become the basis for future rehabilitation therapies in the areas of stroke, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. The Institute has recently added new research laboratories in the areas of pain, vision restoration and motor recovery. The institute strives to assist patients to recover more fully, not just decrease disability which has been the focus of mainstream rehabilitation research historically.

Burke Rehabilitation Hospital is a private, not-for-profit, acute rehabilitation hospital. Founded in 1915, it is the only hospital in Westchester County dedicated solely to rehabilitation medicine. Burke offers both inpatient and outpatient programs for those who have experienced a disabling illness, traumatic injury or joint replacement surgery. Burke is both an acute rehabilitation hospital and medical research center. Burke’s world renowned doctors and therapists provide state-of-the-art  treatment, while its research scientists at the Burke Medical Research Institute explore the frontiers of neurological and rehabilitation medicine. All share the Burke mission to ensure that every patient makes the fullest possible recovery from illness or injury regardless of their ability to pay.

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