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UH Professors awarded $768K NIH grant to develop extensive neuromotor training
Jillian Holden
 Pranav Parikh (left) and Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal (right).
Pranav Parikh (left) and Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal (right).

The UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Department of Health and Human Performance Associate Professor Pranav J. Parikh and Cullen College of Engineering Professor Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal have been awarded the NIH R25 Research Education grant, “Neuromotor Skill Advancement for Post-baccalaureates (NSAP).”

Their project, worth $768,000 for the next five years, is based on the National Science Foundation’s Industry-University Cooperative Research Center for Building Reliable Advances and Innovations in Neurotechnology (IUCRC BRAIN) at the University of Houston. Its overall goal is to provide didactic and hands-on activities focusing on the development of highly specialized and highly sought-after technical skills to study the brain.

The NSAP program hopes to complement and enhance the training of therapists, clinical and research fellows, and orthotists and prosthetists from a diverse community for neurorehabilitation and neuroengineering research with the goals of improving health and well-being of children and adults and meeting the nation’s biomedical, behavioral and clinical research needs using emergent technologies.

Trainees will be recruited nationally through announcements and advertisements sent to organizations for groups that are underrepresented in clinical and biomedical research. A group of 10 trainees in the science, bioengineering, neuroscience or medical fields at the postbaccalaureate level will be recruited to participate 10+ weeks in the summer months in workshops and seminars, didactic work and immersive collaborative and personalized research experiences.

Experts at Texas Medical Center (TMC) institutions, including Texas Woman’s University, The University of Texas Medical Branch, TIRR Memorial Hermann and the faculty from the NSF BRAIN Center at the University of Houston will work together on NSAP. Leveraging these unique facilities and their extensive expertise and mentoring experience will provide state-of-the-art training in neuroimaging, neuromodulation, and neurorehabilitation engineering.

In addition, faculty mentors of the NSAP program represent leading researchers in the fields of neurorehabilitation and neuroengineering. Contreras-Vidal and Parikh are the primary investigators for this project. Other faculty mentors include Stacey L. Gorniak, Ph.D.; Shih-Chiao Tseng, PT, Ph.D.; Jinsook Roh, Ph.D.; Charles S. Layne, Ph.D.; Luca Pollonini, Ph.D.; Christina Bickley, PT, Ph.D., BOCO, C/NDT Shuo-Hsiu Chang, PT, M.S., Ph.D.; and Gerard E. Francisco, M.D.

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