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Approved Research

Structural Adaptation and Resilience of the Brain to Injury: biomarkers indicative of post-traumatic Growth, Healthy host response and a Trajectory of neural recovery

Principal Investigator: Dr Nicole Keong
Approved Research ID: 97345
Approval date: March 22nd 2023

Lay summary

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a disruption of brain function due to a bump, jolt or external force injuring the brain. It is now thought that even mild-to-moderate TBI may lead to neurological risks later in life, such as the development of neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's dementia. Following TBI, some patients successfully recover, some adapt despite deficits, and others continuously decline. The courses of decline are influenced by genetic traits, biological response to injury, brain reserve/ resilience, and other physiological stressors.  Determining such trajectories requires knowledge of markers, thresholds and milestones from the spectrum of reversible to irreversible brain injury. However, the brain is an unknowable structure without imaging; there is a lack of global data confirming how the brain should look at baseline (before injury), across diverse groups of people, and what structural adaptation to insults (resilience or recovery) should look like. The UK Biobank offers us an opportunity to bridge this knowledge gap.

The Simplicity lab group at the National Neuroscience Institute in Singapore proposes to use and analyse neuroimaging, genetic, cognitive testing, health risk markers and other data within the UK Biobank repository to serve as baseline comparators to understand the impact of aging and cognitive threats to the brain, with and without the presence of injury. We plan an initial three-year project, with the aim of continuing to enhance our comparator cohort with longitudinal data. The public health value of our proposed study is two-fold - i) to contribute novel findings towards global knowledge in brain injury and ii) to accelerate the aims of open science by generating knowledge from utility of the UK Biobank repository. The specific aims of our study are as follows -

Aim 1: To perform a large-scale characterization of human subtypes using open-source tools as comparators for research studies mapping groups of patients with reversible to irreversible brain injury.

Aim 2: To explore the impact of aging and health risk factors on brain structural responses. Understanding brain resilience to insults allows for more precise targets/ approaches for intervention.

Aim 3: To examine the geographical variations in the consequences of COVID-19 on the brain.