Michael Kahana Leads Team Awarded $3.4 million to Study the Treatment of Memory Loss in Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury


A team of neuroscientists led by Michael Jacob Kahana, Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Psychology and and Director of the Computational Memory Lab, has launched a $3.4 million project aimed at developing and testing new therapeutics for treating memory loss in patients with traumatic brain injury. The project, sponsored by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC) and awarded through the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium, will fund clinical studies in neurosurgical patients at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, UT Southwestern Medical Center, the University of Texas at San Antonio, Emory University, and Dartmouth University. It will also support basic research on electrophysiological biomarkers of memory at Penn, and technology development at Nia Therapeutics, a team of visionary scientists, engineers, and medical device experts dedicated to improving human memory using safe, secure neurotechnology.

The project builds on a recently completed $24.5 million DARPA-funded study. Kahana, principal investigator of both the completed and present study, explains, “Our prior work demonstrated that stimulating the brain precisely at moments when memory is predicted to fail can boost memory by 18-20 percent.” He continues, “By evaluating the longer-term impacts of closed-loop brain stimulation on both memory and physiology, and also fabricating a prototype of a fully implantable device, this project will bring us closer to a therapy for treating memory loss in patients suffering from traumatic brain injury or neurological disease.” Although the present vision is to develop an implantable technology to treat memory loss, another aim of this effort is to evaluate the potential of decoding memory lapses non-invasively with a net of electrodes placed on the scalp.

Brain stimulation has recently emerged as an effective therapy for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and certain forms of hearing and visual impairments. Researchers are now evaluating the potential use of implanted brain stimulators to treat other indications such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders. “Our team’s recent studies demonstrate that closed-loop brain stimulation could provide a life-changing therapy for patients with memory loss,” says Kahana. “The present USAMRDC project hopes to bring that vision closer to reality.”

The views expressed in this news release/article are those of the authors and may not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

About US Army Medical Research and Development Command

The U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command is the Army's medical materiel developer, with responsibility for medical research, development, and acquisition. USAMRDC produces medical solutions for the battlefield with a focus on various areas of biomedical research, including military infectious diseases, combat casualty care, military operational medicine, medical chemical and biological defense, and clinical and rehabilitative medicine. To find out more about MTEC, visit: https://mrdc.amedd.army.mil/.

About MTEC

MTEC is a biomedical technology consortium collaborating with multiple government agencies under a 10-year renewable Other Transactional Agreement with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command. MTEC is managed by Advanced Technology International.  To find out more about MTEC, visit: https://www.mtec-sc.org/.


Arts & Sciences News

Zoe Zhao, Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology, Receives Young Scholar Award

Zhao is one of 10 recipients of the China Times Cultural Foundation Young Scholars Award, in recognition of her research on platform game work in China.

View Article >
National Academy of Medicine Welcomes Biology's Sarah A. Tishkoff

Election to the NAM is considered one of the highest honors in health and medicine and recognizes people who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

View Article >
Brighid Dwyer Named Inaugural Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the School of Arts & Sciences

She will join Penn from Princeton University, where she has served as Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life since 2018.

View Article >
Biology's Michael Lampson Receives Grants From The National Institutes of Health

Along with Ben Black of the Perelman School of Medicine, Lampson was recognized with the Transformative Research Award.

View Article >
Angela Gibney and Daniel Krashen Named Presidential Professors of Mathematics

Gibney is an algebraic geometer who has obtained deep results about moduli spaces of complex curves and vertex operator algebras; Krashen’s research is in algebra and arithmetic geometry, including the study of division algebras, quadratic forms, local-global principles, moduli stacks, and derived categories.

View Article >
The Power of Penn Arts & Science Campaign Creates a New Future for Students, Faculty, and Campus

The Power of Penn Arts & Sciences Campaign concluded on June 30, 2021 with $565.6 million raised in support of undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, professorships, programming, and facilities. 

View Article >