Injury Science REU Cheyney University of PA and Lincoln University-PA Projects

Funded by a Pennsylvania Department of Health grant with a mission to promote scientific research in Pennsylvania's historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) offers three research projects exclusively to Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and Lincoln University - PA students. Lincoln and Cheyney students may also apply to all of the other Injury Science REU projects.

REU Program Update

Please note:  The Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute's Injury Science REU Program will begin accepting applications for summer 2022 in mid-December 2021. The program will offer three projects exclusively to undergraduate students from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and Lincoln University - PA interested in injury science research. Check back in early December 2021 for more information.

In 2021, CIRP's Injury Science REU Program offered the following three projects to students from these schools:

Project 10: Cognitive and Circuit Impairments Induced by Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Mentor: Akiva Cohen, PhD

COVID-19 Status: In-person; Single unit free housing provided

Research Description

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of death and disability in children and young adults. A TBI occurs on average every 21 seconds and afflicts approximately two million people annually in the United States. No effective therapy currently exists to treat TBI. A profound obstacle to the diagnosis and treatment of TBI is the absence of an objective, quantitative test for TBI. The difficulty in diagnosing TBI is due in large part to the overlap in symptoms between TBI and other conditions (e.g. stroke, migraine, PTSD, depression and non-convulsive seizures), as well as variability in the initial injury and clinical presentation. Therefore, we are determining the nature of a brain circuitry functional biomarker in mice that have received a mild TBI.

REU Project Description

The REU student will become a member of the Cohen Lab at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute. The student will receive mentorship from the lead investigator, as well as from members of his laboratory. The student will learn various behavioral paradigms and immunohistochemistry, as well as cell counting and biochemistry. The student will also gain experience in problem-solving, analyzing data, interpreting findings, and developing new research ideas. There will also be opportunities to submit and present his or her work at conferences and to participate in the preparation of journal publications.

Project 11: Electrophysiology Biomarkers in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Mentor: J. Christopher Edgar, PhD

COVID-19 Status: In-person; Single unit free housing provided

Research Description

At present, there is no brain imaging measure that identifies individuals with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). A promising line of research in adults with mTBI indicates abnormal brain rhythms, such as abnormally increased theta-band activity. Pilot data in adolescents with mTBI indicates similar resting-state abnormalities. In addition, measures in adolescents with acute mTBI (within two weeks of injury) show (1) elevated alpha activity during first weeks following mTBI and then (2) a normalization of alpha activity 4 months after concussion. Present research seeks to use normative databases to identify abnormal brain activity in adolescents with mTBI.

REU Project Description

The REU student will become a member of Dr. Edgar’s lab in the Department of Radiology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The student will receive mentorship from the lead investigator, as well as from members of the laboratory. The student will learn how to collect and analyzing resting-state magnetoencephalography data from adolescents (controls and those with mTBI). The student will also gain experience in problem-solving, analyzing data, interpreting findings, and developing new research ideas. There will also be opportunities to submit and present his or her work at conferences and to participate in the preparation of journal publications.

Project 12: Biomechanics of Head Impacts in Youth Sport

Mentor: Declan A. Patton, PhD

COVID-19 Status: In-person; Single unit free housing provided

Research Description

Over 1.5 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur in the U.S. each year. In addition, there is growing concern for the neurophysiological outcomes and effects of repetitive head impacts that do not result in concussive symptoms. Recent advancements in technology have led to the development of head impact sensors with the ability to measure head motions experienced by athletes during sports participation. Therefore, Minds Matter Concussion Program researchers are conducting a large clinical and biomechanical study to investigate the relationship between objective neurophysiological measures and head impacts in youth sports.

REU Project Description

The student will participate in several aspects of the larger research study and develop skills in data collection, management, and analysis. Specifically, the student will be mainly involved in the collection of head impact sensor data during a laboratory study of repetitive head impacts and video review of head impact sensor data collected from youth sports games. In addition, the student will have the opportunity to participate in team meetings, discussions, and presentations. Through this project, the student will gain broad research experience valuable to a potential career in engineering and/or scientific research.

We are looking for a student who is motivated and enthusiastic to learn more about head injury biomechanics and to work on a diverse and collaborative research team.