Wright State University has won a $4.6 million National Institutes of Health grant for neuroscience research aimed at improving the movement of badly injured limbs, officials said Thursday.
The five-year grant will build on the university’s previous nerve injury research and sustain the employment of 15 physicians and scientists at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, said Mark Rich, a neuroscience professor and investigator on the project.
In addition, the funding will support research and graduate training programs at Wright State’s new $37 million Neuroscience and Engineering Collaboration building. A groundbreaking is scheduled for April, and the facility will open in 2015, Rich said.
Officials said the grant is one of only two of its type awarded this year by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, which is part of NIH.
The award builds on research performed in the first five-year, $4.8 million program project grant awarded to Wright State in 2007.
Nerves typically grow back and recover some function after a person suffers a nerve injury in their arm or leg, but the function never fully returns to normal, Rich said. University researchers found that nerve injuries result in a “rewiring of circuits in the spinal cord” that can leave the person with problems, he said.
Researchers are now working to understand the process so they can try to prevent it, “so that when the nerve regrows you will still have the normal wiring of your spinal cord, and then you would regain better function,” Rich said.
The findings could apply to stroke and spinal cord injury, in addition to peripheral nerve injury, he said.