Brain trauma

As the lead cause of death and disability under the age of 45 years, traumatic brain injury also brings with it astonishing socio-economic costs as it disproportionately affects people of working age. Estimated to cost the economy over $60 billion annually in the US alone it is also the leading cause of destitution in developing countries.

The signature injury of recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, brain trauma has now become a major public concern leading to reduced sport participation in younger age groups. 

BRIDGE Fellow - Dr Valentina Di Pietro   

Dr Di Pietro was awarded the a BRIDGE fellowship to undertake traumatic brain injury (TBI) research, working across the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Illinois. 

The fellowship allows Dr Di Pietro to combine neuroimaging techniques available in the US with the results of the five years microRNA study. It bridges cutting edge research in cognition, neuro-imaging and material sciences at the Beckman Institute with the translational neuro-trauma research at the University of Birmingham. 

Neurotrauma research at the University of Birmingham is strongly cross-disciplinary, working with advanced neuro-monitoring (cerebral microdialysis, invasive brain tissue oxygen tension, Near-Infrared Spectroscopy, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and neurophysiology) and neuroimaging (fMRI, DTI, MR Spectroscopy) on cohorts of severely and mildly injured patients 

Key project 

Biomarkers of TBI and neuroimaging 

Valentina Di Pietro, Antonio Belli, Aron K Barbey (University of Illinois) 

Biomarkers (microRNAs/proteins/metabolites) identified in different bio-fluids of a cohort of concussed athletes will be correlated with the most advanced neuroimaging techniques (MRI, fMRI, DTI, MRE, MRS) and a battery of neurocognitive tests available at the Biomedical Imaging Center at the Beckman Institute of Illinois.  

The integration of biomarkers, neuroimaging and neuropsychology in a single sample allows for comparison across multiple measurements resulting in refinement of their individual diagnostic, prognostic and clinical utility as well as in evaluating their effectiveness to detect neural and cognitive recovery.