The Traumatic Brain Injury Program at the Roskamp Institute
Among the soldiers who survive conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the traumatic brain injuries account for a larger proportion of their casualties than in any other US war in recent history. According to the Joint Theater Trauma Registry, established by the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, approximately 22 percent of the injured US soldiers received injuries to the head, face, or neck. A major reason for this high ratio of these injuries is Kevlar body armor and helmets. Although, it successfully protects these soldiers from bullets and shrapnel exposure, Kevlar helmets cannot fully protect the face, head, and neck areas. Additionally, it is also unsuccessful in preventing the closed brain injuries produced by blasts. Furthermore, among patients evaluated at Walter Reed hospital, closed head injuries outnumber other penetrating injuries (originally published in New England Journal of Medicine).
Most individuals with a mild traumatic brain injury improve entirely within a year, but moderate and severe brain injuries are more complex and have long-term consequences. The Center of disease Control and Prevention estimated that 5.3 million Americans are living with disabilities resulting from traumatic brain injury. Dr. Michael Mullan (Director of the Roskamp Institute) Dr. Fiona Crawford (Associate Director of the Roskamp Institute) and their team of scientists previously demonstrated that apolipoprotein E (APOE) influences traumatic brain injury outcomes. These Roskamp Institute scientists examined 110 participants from the Defense and Veterans’ Head Injury Program to determine a relationship between APOE genotype and memory performance on certain cognitive tests administered to these head injured soldiers. The memory performance was much worse in soldiers who had at least had one APOE epsilon 4 allele compared to those who did not. This Roskamp Institute team also determined that these findings were limited to memory and not other cognitive performances such as executive functioning. Therefore, these data support a specific role for the APOE protein in memory outcome following TBI, and suggest an APOE isoform-specific effect on neuronal repair processes (originally published in the journal Neurology).
Dr. Fiona Crawford received a Merit award from the Veteran’s Administration to further study, using genomics technology, the role of APOE in Traumatic Brain Injury. Dr. Fiona Crawford and her Roskamp Institute team have now completed the experiments showing differences in genomics response among the different mouse models after traumatic brain injury. Recently, Drs. Michael Mullan and Fiona Crawford received a prestigious award of $1.5 million from the Department of Defense which will allow the Roskamp Institute to investigate ApoE and other proteins to find potential peripheral biological markers and novel therapeutic treatments for traumatic brain injury. Florida Senator Bill Nelson recently toured the Roskamp Institute to observe its traumatic brain injury program in support of the soldiers affected by this devastating condition.
The Roskamp Institute is a world-renowned state-of-the-art research and clinical facility located in Sarasota Florida dedicating to finding novel therapeutics for treatment of neuropsychiatric disorder, especially Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury and substance abuse. The Roskamp Institute is supported by the funding from government agencies such the National Institutes of Health, the Veteran’s Administration and the Department of Defense as well as private donations from the Robert and Diane Roskamp Foundation.