U of Arizona researcher receives $1.65M NIH grant to study neurotransmitters in brain injury

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Theresa Currier Thomas, PhD, a researcher in the Department of Child Health at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, received a $1.65 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study how traumatic brain injury alters communication in the brain.

The five-year grant will allow Dr. Thomas to test initial and delayed changes in neurotransmitters, the brain's communication system, after a traumatic brain injury. This will be the first study that an electrochemical assessment will be used to measure the effects of a traumatic brain injury on neurotransmitters in real time.

"Traumatic brain injury can be devastating because of the real risk it brings for permanent effects that can alter the course of a person's life," "The groundbreaking work that Dr. Thomas is doing to understand what's happening in the brain after a serious injury is crucial to developing more effective treatments. I look forward to following her progress and learning what she's able to discover," said UA President Robert Robbins, MD.

As part of the grant, Dr. Thomas and her team will also research the long-term effects of rehabilitation after a traumatic brain injury and the differences between male and female brains on the road to recovery. Most of past research has largely focused on males, because males are more often the victims of traumatic brain injuries.

Dr. Thomas also serves as an assistant professor at Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children's Hospital and a research investigator at the Phoenix VA Health Care System.

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