A new research partnership tackles concussions.
Concussions remain frustratingly difficult to prevent or even diagnose. A research collaboration called PANTHER is working to develop new ways of detecting when a concussion has happened, and new helmet technologies that better prevent them.
The team, which includes three professors from Brown, now has a $10 million grant from the Office of Naval Research to expand their work. Diane Hoffman-Kim PhD’93, an associate professor of medical science and of engineering, is using 3D cultures of brain cells that mimic the basic functions of actual brains. She hopes these “mini-brains” will help them learn more about the chemical signals exchanged between cells in response to trauma—a potential means to detect concussion.
“With the PANTHER collaboration, we will be able to use minibrains to do real-time injury detection and get a handle on the biochemical signals that occur as an injury progresses,” Hoffman-Kim says. Ultimately, the team wants to develop sensors that can be placed inside helmets to detect impacts delivered with sufficient force to cause internal damage.