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UTHSC and University of Memphis Researchers Receive 2019 CORNET Award For Studies on Brain Exploration in Adolescents

Dr. Khyobeni Mozhui (Photo by Allen Gillespie/UTHSC)

Eraina Schauss, PhD, LPC-MHSP, ACS, director and founder of the Brain Center at the University of Memphis (UofM), and Khyobeni Mozhui, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), are recipients of the 2019 UTHSC/UofM CORNET Award in Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Research for their project “A Combined Environment and Epigenetics Study (ACES): Impact of Neurofeedback Therapy on the Health and Behavior of Adolescents.” The research team will receive $100,000 from the Research Leadership at UTHSC (Dr. Steve Goodman) and at the UofM (Dr. Jasbir Dhaliwal).

Drs. Schauss and Mozhui will examine the EEG brain wave patterns and functioning of adolescents exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and investigate the impact of neurofeedback training. ACEs are traumatic events before the age of 18, and include various types of abuse and neglect, as well as parental mental illness, substance use, divorce, incarceration, and domestic violence. The pair is researching whether their innovative brain training can improve physical health, decrease mental health symptoms, improve cognitive functioning, and reduce the risk of unfavorable social, emotional and developmental health outcomes in affected adolescents.

Drs. Schauss and Mozhui are partnering with a team of UTHSC researchers to test levels of environmental toxicants, and observe epigenetic and other predetermined biomarkers for their influence on resilience and susceptibility to traumatic childhood experiences. The research team will also investigate to what extent biomarkers can be used to predict successful outcomes for these adolescents. Their work will contribute to nationwide efforts surrounding the impact that ACEs have and their toll on mental and physical health.

Dr. Eraina Schauss

“This is the first of what I hope will be many research collaborations between UTHSC and the UofM that are stimulated by CORNET Awards,” says Steven R. Goodman, PhD, vice chancellor for Research at UTHSC and founder of the CORNET Awards program. “Our collaborations on the very important and timely subject of ACEs began with the generous support from the state of Tennessee through a $2 million award to the Memphis Research Consortium. There has been wonderful progress made by many UTHSC and UofM investigators. We are helping to continue this momentum with this CORNET Award.”

Launched in 2016, the CORNET Awards were created to foster collaborative partnerships between researchers across the city of Memphis and the state of Tennessee, with various academic institutions regionally and globally, and with industry partners. To date, the CORNET Awards program has provided over $1.7 million in funding to research teams, giving rise to over $14.2 million in extramural funding.