CHOP Receives Grants to Further Neuroscience, Mental Health Research


In a pair of statements, Congressman Chakah Fattah recently announced that the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has been awarded nearly a million dollars to support several neuroscience and mental health projects.

The grants, which were awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will fund four different projects. Seema Bhatnagar, Ph.D., received $18,610 to support a workshop on the neurobiology of stress, while Co-Director at the Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS), Kristy Arbogast, Ph.D., has received $195,662 from the NSF to lead a study of mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI).

Also known as concussions, mTBI are a common form of injury sustained by children during motor vehicle crashes and on sports fields, and can lead to complications affecting quality of life. The NSF grant will support research at CChIPS that seeks to better understand the biomechanics of mTBI.

Over the course of a season, Dr. Arbogast plans to collect head acceleration data through sensors placed in youth hockey players’ helmets. Collecting data from actual children will help Dr. Arbogast and her team to quantify the biomechanical forces imparted to players’ heads, and correlate these to neurocognitive and other clinical measure, Dr. Arbogast says.

In addition to increasing awareness of concussion risk and symptoms, the aim of the project is to advance anthropometric test device (ATD) — crash test dummy — design and testing protocols. “By providing an in-depth understanding of concussion injury mechanisms linked with medical data, the hope is that this research will lead to new methods of ATD head injury assessment and fuel the cycle of product development for technology to prevent mTBI in children,” Dr. Arbogast said.

Meanwhile, Director of the Center for Applied Genomics Hakon Hakonarson, M.D., was awarded $340,214 by the NIH to study schizophrenia and other mental health disorders. Making use of preexisting clinical, genomic, and imaging information, the grant will support “a novel approach to analyzing the data,” using “transformative analysis methods,” Dr. Hakonarson noted. The overall goal of the project is to smooth the way for future research and discovery through an integration of multiple sets of schizophrenia data.

Last, but certainly not least, clinical geneticist Ian D. Krantz, M.D., received a medical genetics research training grant of $318,131. In all, the four grants total $872,617.

“These grants will enable The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to continue its cutting-edge research and treatment in the areas of concussion, cognitive impairment in youth, and other critically important fields of brain injury research,” Congressman Fattah said.

Congressman Fattah is currently the senior Democrat on the House Appropriation Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. Since 1995 he has represented Pennsylvania’s 2nd District, comprising West, Northwest, and North Philadelphia, and Cheltenham Township.

“CHOP is at the top of the list of our nation’s leading hospitals for children, and a key player in Philadelphia’s vibrant research community,” Congressman Fattah added.