East Hanover, NJ. June 21, 2019. Each year, the New Jersey Health Foundation accepts applications for grants for research projects that demonstrate exciting potential to help scientists leverage their preliminary findings to qualify for major funding to advance their research. This year, grants were awarded to two researchers at Kessler Foundation.
Vikram Shenoy Handiru, PhD, received a one-year $35,000 award for his project titled, "Targeted Noninvasive Brain Stimulation for Improving the Hand Dexterity in Stroke Patients." Dr. Shenoy Handiru was recently promoted to associate research scientist in the Center for Mobility and Rehabilitation Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation. His postdoctoral fellowship was funded by the New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research. This study is based on a novel approach to helping stroke survivors regain hand function - combining brain stimulation with music-assisted hand exercises. Unlike traditional therapies, this combination may modulate neuroplasticity, maximizing the nervous systems' inherent potential for recovery. In addition to improving quality of life, findings may advance the knowledge of behavioral aspects of motor control in individuals with different types of neuromuscular disorders.
Katie Lancaster, PhD, received a one-year $35,000 award for her project titled: "A Social Emotion Regulation Intervention in Multiple Sclerosis." Dr. Lancaster is a Hearst Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Traumatic Brain Injury Research at Kessler Foundation. The goal of this project is to alleviate feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, which are common among individuals with MS. Dr. Lancaster will test the effectiveness of a novel intervention based on the social regulation of emotion: an approach where individuals use their existing social resources to navigate emotional challenges. Although the social regulation of emotion is positively associated with mental and physical health, this has not yet been explored in the MS population. As this brief intervention involves teaching individuals how to derive greater emotional benefits from existing social support and equipping them with skills that will carry into the future, this project promises to be a highly resource-efficient approach to improving quality of life in persons with MS.
John DeLuca, PhD, senior vice president for Research and Training at Kessler Foundation, commented: "These awards for Drs. Shenoy Handiru and Lancaster not only support their individual projects, they support our commitment to training future generations of rehabilitation researchers. Our postdoctoral fellowship training program has launched the careers of many leaders in rehabilitation research. It is gratifying to see the New Jersey Health Foundation recognize the potential for these young investigators to change the lives of people with disabilities."
Funding: NJHF PC 8-19, PC 9-19
About the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
The Postdoctoral Fellowship Program is administered through the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Training opportunities are available in multiple areas of translational rehabilitation research at Kessler Foundation, with access to clinical populations of all ages in conjunction with the Foundation's close partnerships with Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation and Children's Specialized Hospital, and nearby centers of excellence in New York and New Jersey.
About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes -- including employment -- for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
For more information on Kessler Foundation's research, visit KesslerFoundation.org.
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Carolann Murphy, PA
Senior Staff Writer