Kessler Foundation Appoints New Director of Traumatic Brain Injury Research

September 8, 2010

WEST ORANGE, N.J., Sept. 8 /PRNewswire/ — Kessler Foundation announced that Jordan Grafman, Ph.D., will join Kessler Foundation Research Center as Director of the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Research Laboratory. He will assume his position on January 3, 2011.

President and Chief Executive Officer of Kessler Foundation, Rodger DeRose, said, “We’re very excited to have Dr. Grafman lead Kessler Foundation’s TBI research team. With his decades of national leadership, depth of expertise in TBI and our rich research environment, I’m confident that we will develop new ways to help people restore their abilities to think, learn and remember.”

Dr. Grafman currently serves the National Institutes of Health as Chief of the Cognitive Neuroscience Section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Dr. Grafman has studied brain function in dementia, depression, and degenerative neurological diseases, as well as TBI.

Dr. Grafman has nearly 30 years of experience in brain injury research at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As Director of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he led the Vietnam Head Injury Project. He is the leading expert on the long-term effects of penetrating brain injuries in military personnel.

He has authored more than 300 research publications and sits on the editorial and review boards of more than 30 medical publications. Dr. Grafman is the recipient of many prestigious awards including the 2010 National Institutes of Health Director’s Award.

At Kessler Foundation, Dr. Grafman will focus on ways to tailor interventions for individual patients in order to achieve the best outcomes. Research into neuroplasticity shows that the brain has greater capacity for healing than previously thought. Dr. Grafman’s goal is to translate that concept into more effective, targeted rehabilitation.

“Our genetic makeup influences how our brain heals after injury and how it responds to various strategies used in rehabilitation, including medication and cognitive and behavioral therapy. By taking advantage of genetic information,” he explained, “we will learn which treatments are likely to be most effective for individual patients.” This genetic approach, which will expand upon Kessler’s current cognitive and neuroimaging research, will broaden our knowledge of the impact of TBI, as well as other diseases that impair brain function, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis and degenerative diseases.

Brain injury is a major public health issue with tremendous costs for care and lost productivity. Costs for acute care exceed $8,000 per day, and for inpatient rehabilitation, they exceed $2,000 per day. Each year an estimated 1.56 million Americans require medical treatment for brain injury sustained in accidents, falls, violent encounters, and sports. TBI is the signature wound in military men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Even mild brain injuries may results in symptoms that impair their ability to function in the community. For example, of the people who are injured, 63% are employed at the time of injury, but only 28% remain employed at one-year followup.

Dr. Grafman will also have a leadership role with the Northern NJ TBI Model System (NNJTBIMS). NNJTBIMS is one of 16 federally funded systems that encourage individual and collaborative research to improve the quality and standard of care for treating people with TBI. Kessler Foundation is one of only eight institutions to have Model Systems for both TBI and spinal cord injury.

“Dr. Grafman’s leadership will greatly enhance Kessler Foundation’s ability to translate research into patient treatment,” said John DeLuca, Ph.D., Vice President of Research at Kessler Foundation Research Center. “We anticipate that his novel approaches will lead to substantial improvements in the standard of care for TBI, which will mean a better quality of life for people recovering from brain injuries. With his participation, we look forward to broadening our collaborations nationally as well as within our Research Center.” Kessler Foundation also conducts research in neuropsychology and neuroscience, stroke, spinal cord injury, outcomes, rehabilitation engineering, and movement analysis.

Dr. Grafman received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1981. He plans to reside in NJ with his wife and two children.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation strives to be a leader in rehabilitation research and grant making that benefit people with disabilities. The Foundation’s mission is to improve quality of life for people with physical and/or cognitive disabilities through discovery, innovation, demonstration, application, and dissemination. Kessler Foundation Research Center conducts research that improves function and quality of life for persons with injuries of the spinal cord and brain, including stroke, multiple sclerosis, TBI and other chronic neurological and orthopedic conditions. Kessler Foundation also supports programs that promote the employment of people with disabilities through its Program Center’s “Transition to Work” Signature and Community Employment Grants. The Foundation’s Special Initiative Grants support educational programs like ‘ThinkFirst’, an injury prevention program aimed at children and teens. Kessler Foundation has a full-time staff of 90 individuals, divided between two locations in West Orange, New Jersey.

For more information, visit KesslerFoundation.org.

SOURCE Kessler Foundation

Source: newswire

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