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NICoE’s 3rd Annual Research Fair Focuses on the Future of TBI care

Man standing at podium next to American flag Dr. Anjan Chatterjee, University of Pennsylvania, delivers the plenary address at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s 3rd Annual Research Fair to a socially distanced audience. (Photo by NICoE Communications.)

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In service of its mission of traumatic brain injury (TBI) research and education, the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), a directorate at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, held its 3rd Annual Research Fair in late September using a blend of virtual and in-person participation.

The NICoE Research Fair featured a plenary presentation from Dr. Anjan Chatterjee of the University of Pennsylvania focused on “The Aesthetic Brain,” 14 short-poster presentations on emerging research in TBI, and a presentation from NICoE researcher Sarah Kruger on the history of the NICoE’s Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN) laboratory.

NICoE Department Chief of Research, Dr. Treven Pickett, stressed that the event was intended to educate all attendees, no matter their scientific background, and to make TBI education more accessible to everyone. “The hope is that the tone of the fair remains one in which anyone attending can learn a bit about research in TBI and associated psychological health conditions, ask questions, and leave the experience with new knowledge and perhaps even an appetite to learn more.”

To that end, presentations covered a wide variety of topics related to TBI and brain health, including a plenary speech on the brain’s perception of beauty. Poster presentation research topics included the effect of post-concussive symptoms on sleep among military service members, neuroimaging findings and clinical trials in TBI, as well as some of the healing arts therapies offered at the NICoE.

The Research Fair fittingly concluded with a presentation from Kruger, who’s been with the NICoE since its inception, more than ten years ago. She described the NICoE’s strides in utilizing the CAREN, a virtual reality based system that is used for both clinical and research purposes. “We’ve leveraged insights gained through clinical care to formulate relevant research questions. Then, through cooperative relationships and scientific partnerships, we’ve sought to expand the system’s capabilities in an effort to improve outcomes for our service members,” said Kruger.

Kruger’s presentation, as well as the rest of the NICoE’s 3rd Annual Research Fair, is meant to be a starting place for research as the NICoE looks forward to the future of TBI care. “It takes more than pure research staff to advance science. By creating a Fair format accessible to attendees, […] a diverse forum will be a terrific launching pad to share a multitude of perspectives, all valuable and needed to support the research enterprise,” emphasized Pickett.

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