ITHRIV Funds Ambitious Statewide Collaborations to Benefit Human Health

The integrated Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia has awarded $200,000 in pilot funding to four multi-institutional research projects. Support of these early-phase research projects will help accelerate the discovery of potential treatment options for cancer, depression and a painful gastrointestinal disorder, as well as aid patients in recovery from rotator cuff surgery.

Teams of physicians, researchers and engineers at the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic were awarded the funds as part of the iTHRIV Clinical and Translational Research Award from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science of the National Institutes of Health (award UL1TR003015).

Projects include:

Could Focused Ultrasound Treat Depression?

Depression is among the most prevalent and debilitating psychiatric illnesses and a leading cause of disability in the U.S. and the world. Researchers led by Sarah Clinton, an associate professor in the School of Neuroscience at Virginia Tech, and Wynn Legon, an assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at UVA Health, will work to see how focused sound waves might be used to treat depression.

Better Identifying Cancer Cells and the Best Treatments

Identifying which cancer cells will respond to which chemotherapy is challenging. This project is working to develop a device to identify cancer cells using machine learning principles and electrophysiology. This team is led by Nathan Swami, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Virginia; Dr. Todd Bauer, a UVA professor of surgery; and Eva Schmelz, an associate professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise at Virginia Tech.

Better Understanding Painful Esophageal Inflammation

Led by Irving Allen, an associate professor at Virginia Tech in the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Emily McGowan, a physician in UVA’s School of Medicine, this project will address the challenging gastrointestinal disorder known as eosinophilic esophagitis, which causes pain and difficulty swallowing. The condition affects both children and adults.

When Can Patients Safely Drive After Rotator Cuff Repair?

Despite more than 450,000 rotator cuff repairs performed every year, very little data exists guiding when a person can return to driving. Dr. Peter Apel, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and a Carilion Clinic orthopedic surgeon, and Miguel Perez, an associate professor at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, lead this team. They will investigate how changes in driving skills can shorten the time patients are restricted from driving after surgery.

About iTHRIV

iTHRIV is a cross-state translational research institute which combines the expertise of clinical translational biomedical researchers and data scientists to create infrastructure and investigator resources for using data to improve health across Virginia. Partner sites include the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Carilion Clinic and Inova Health System.

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