Identifying Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Traumatic Brain Injury

Identifying the fundamental mechanisms that produce brain dysfunction in TBI to develop new therapeutic approaches for treatments

Full Project Name:Identifying Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Traumatic Brain Injury: A path to novel therapeutic optionsPrincipal Investigator:Amadou K. Camara, PhD, AnesthesiologyCo-Investigator:Wai-Meng Kwok, PhD, Anesthesiology; Christopher Pawela, PhD, Anesthesiology; Bin Pan, PhD, AnesthesiologyAward Amount:$1,000,000
Award Date
July2017
Project Duration:60 months

Project Description Narrative:


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant clinical problem, both in Wisconsin and nationally. Approximately 1.7 million TBI cases are reported each year in the United States. Of this total, 70-90% are considered to be brain concussions (i.e. mild traumatic brain injury, mTBI). This condition is most common in males and in young adults and teenagers and is often related to sports activity and risk-taking. Falls and motor vehicle collisions are other common causes.

In Wisconsin, the incidence of sports-related mTBI averages over 400 a year. Additional cases result from outdoor recreational sports typical in Wisconsin, such as snowmobiling and off-roading with ATVs. An important characteristic of sports-related mTBI is the potential for repeated injuries over the course of an athletic event, a season, or even a lifetime. Therefore, mTBI has been recognized as a major public health concern with significant socioeconomic consequences. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can lead to lasting impairment after moderate head injury such as falls or sport injuries.

This project seeks to identify the fundamental cellular and molecular mechanisms that produce brain dysfunction in TBI, in order to develop new therapeutic approaches for treating TBI.

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


  • Developed enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologies to measure metabolic changes associated with mitochondrial dysfunction initiated by traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Created the foundations of a research program that addressed fundamental aspects of traumatic brain injury, which is a significant clinical problem, both in Wisconsin and nationally
  • Explored new frontiers in the role of mitochondria in neurodegenerative diseases
  • Used a wide range of scientific approaches that complement each other, from the molecular level to the subcellular, cellular, tissue, and organism levels, to understand mitochondrial-targeted mechanisms that contribute to the disabilities associated with mTBI

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