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Dr. Luan is awarded a R01 from NINDS

Updated: Aug 18, 2019

Measuring the Effects of Ministrokes on the Brain (Department News)

Dr. Luan and her team have received a new National Institutes of Health R01 grant to determine the neural and vascular impacts of ministrokes, which occur when the brain experiences a loss of blood flow at a microscopic level. Ministrokes, which occur often as a brain ages, are difficult to detect and can have long-lasting neurological impacts. They are suspected to be a main cause of vascular dementia.

The $2.37 million grant will allow Luan and her team to simultaneously record and image the neurovascular changes in the brain that occur over time and to learn more about risk factors to human patients. Up until now there have rarely been ways to detect neural and hemodynamic changes simultaneously in the affected brain regions from ministrokes in living models. Through the use of multiple innovative electrical and optical neurotechniques, UT Austin researchers will gain a better understanding of ministrokes.

Luan and her team will use high density, ultraflexible electrodes for neural recording, and multiple optical imaging techniques that visualize hemodynamic changes from microscopic to mesoscopic scales. The combination of these technologies will provide much more information than what exists currently. Additionally, these techniques will allow Luan and her team to track the pathological evolution of ministrokes by measuring injuries and their effects longitudinally over time.

“What makes the project stand out is that we’re able to directly measure over long period of time what is happening neurologically, while simultaneously using powerful imaging techniques to detect what is happening to the blood flow and oxygen supply, which have rarely been done before,” says Luan. “We’re also working with psychologists and physicians to measure behavioral changes and to understand the clinical relevance of these experiments may have to humans.”

Lan’s collaborators include UT Austin faculty members Andrew Dunn, professor of biomedical engineering, Chong Xie, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, Theresa Jones, professor of psychology, and Ming-Chieh Ding, assistant professor of neurology in the Dell Medical School.

The grant is specifically provided through the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

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