What’s Happening in the BRaIN?

Before the turn of the millennium, an interconnected group of UNM Health Sciences Center faculty and researchers was working in the area of pathophysiology of brain injury.

Neurologists, neurosurgeons, radiologists and pharmacists were talking about how to work collectively to enhance one another’s research and deliver solutions to New Mexicans. These talks eventually led to the creation of the Biomedical Research and Integrative Neuroimaging (BRaIN) Center.

Founded in 2001, the BRaIN Center serves as a multimodal integrative neuroimaging facility for central nervous system pathophysiology research. The center uses the latest technology and equipment to study stroke, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, neurodegeneration, and other debilitating neurological diseases.

The BRaIN’s Capabilities

The center has an exceptional capability to look at what’s happening in the brain after an injury and what intervention can be provided. One example of this is the Electron Paramagnetic Resonance or EPR, a specialized piece of equipment that measures brain oxygenation.

"There are two very unique aspects of this instrument," said BRaIN Center Director Jim Liu. "The EPR allows us to image the amount of oxygen in the brain during a stroke, investigating how tissue oxygen levels regulate brain injury and what role that plays in the molecular and cellular process. It also shows what free radicals are generated in the injured brain and at what time. Free radicals – the molecules that 'antioxidants' are supposed to scavenge – play a major role in brain injury."

In addition to the EPR, the center uses MRI, optical and electrophysiological recording, cellular and molecular, and surgical cores to study the brain and its state after injury.

"We continue to conduct extensive basic research to understand these processes," said Liu. "As we gather data from basic research and clinical trials, we are poised to introduce solutions directly to health care providers, so our underlying mission is that New Mexicans will quickly benefit from our research."

For more information, visit the Biomedical Research and Integrative Neuroimaging (BRaIN) Center website.

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