BU researcher receives NIH award to examine repetitive head injuries in former NFL players

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(Boston)–Michael Alosco, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), has received a five-year, $793,000 K23 Award from the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Alosco will use MRI data and biomarkers to examine patterns of white matter alterations in former NFL players compared to healthy individuals, as well as those with Alzheimer's disease dementia. He will do so by leveraging ongoing studies at BUSM, including the NINDS-funded DIAGNOSE CTE Research Project, led by Robert Stern, PhD, professor of neurology, and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) funded BU Alzheimer's Disease Center (BU ADC).

Repetitive brain trauma has been associated with later-life neurological disorders, including the neurodegenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). To date, the only way to diagnosis CTE is through brain autopsy. Alosco's research will attempt to provide a better understanding of the development of CTE prior to autopsy. The K23 Award will additionally provide him with advanced and cutting-edge training in CTE to facilitate his progression as an independent clinical neuroscientist.

"This research will allow our group to investigate the relationship between exposure to repetitive head impacts and white matter alterations in former NFL players, as well as investigate the association between white matter alterations with later-life clinical function and proposed biomarkers of CTE," he explained.

Alosco completed his pre-doctoral internship in clinical neuropsychology at the VA Boston Healthcare System. In 2015, he was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the BU ADC and BU CTE Center through the NIA-funded Alzheimer's Disease Translational Research Training Program. In 2016, Alosco received a National Research Service Award from NINDS to continue his advanced clinical research training at the BU ADC and BU CTE Center.

Alosco was the recipient of the American Psychological Association Early Graduate Student Research Award in 2012. He received the Kent State University David B. Smith Award in 2014, an award that provides recognition for the most outstanding graduate student at Kent State University. He also received a 2016-2017 BU ADC Pilot Grant. He has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters, and is the co-editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Adult Cognitive Disorders. He is a member of the American Psychological Association and Massachusetts Neuropsychological Society.

The K23 Award is a highly competitive grant, formally known as the Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award. Its purpose is to support the career development of individuals with a clinical doctoral degree who have made a commitment to focus their research endeavors on patient-oriented research.

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Gillian Smith
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