• Research News

    The Department of Neurology issues a quarterly newsletter highlighting it's research efforts. Lahey Hospital & Medical Center Department of Neurology Research Newsletter is intended to inform staff about research initiatives being conducted by neurology colleagues and to stimulate recruitment into current trials. 

    Past Newsletters  

    Grant Awards 

    Movement Disorders

    Diana Apetauerova, MD (Director of Movement Disorders Center) and Janet Zani, MS, APRN, BC were awarded a grant from the Robert E. Wise Research and Education Institute for their project, "Effects of subthalamic nucleus stimulation on striatal dopaminergic transmission in patients with Parkinsons disease- A pilot study."  

    This study will look at dopamine activity before and after deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery to see if, what, changes occur in the brain.  DBS surgery is an established treatment option for Parkinsons disease (PD) that directly changes brain activity with reversible effects. The mechanism or underlying principles by which DBS surgery benefits patients with PD, however, remains unclear.  PD is caused by loss of dopamine-secreting neurons (nerve cells) in the part of the brain that affects movement.  Medications used to treat the symptoms of PD are generally those that are targeted to replace this dopamine loss.   DaTscan™ (Ioflupane I 123 Injection) in brain SPECT imaging is an FDA approved screening test which helps differentiate between PD and other similar movement disorders and it permits us to measure and see dopamine’s activity in the brain. The effectiveness of DaTscan™ for monitoring disease progression or response to therapy, such as DBS, has not yet been established.

    Neuromuscular Disorders

    Doreen Ho, MD and colleagues were awarded a $10,000 Charlton Research Grant from Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) for project titled: “A sonographic single center multidisciplinary pilot study of prognosis and treatment outcomes in patients with ulnar neuropathy across the elbow”.  

    This project is initiated by Doreen Ho, MD in conjunction with the neuromuscular team and Orthopedics Department at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center and is designed as a prospective, homegrown, multidisciplinary, observational pilot study.

    The primary aim of this project is to determine the role of neuromuscular ultrasound in the treatment planning and/or postoperative assessment of patients with ulnar neuropathy across the elbow (UNE).  The secondary aim is to evaluate outcomes in patients undergoing surgical treatments for UNE and compare those outcomes to patients being treated conservatively. 

    Funds from the Charlton Grant will aid in the development of future research projects and allow researchers to further evaluate neuromuscular ultrasound’s role in UNE. 

    Cognitive Disorders

    Robert E. Wise Research and Education Institute Grant  

    Dana Penney, PhD and colleague Randall Davis, PhD (MIT) were awarded a $68,450 grant from the Robert E. Wise Research and Education Institute for project titled: "A New Approach to Assessment: Detecting and Measuring Subtle Behaviors that Expose Cognitive Status

    This project initiated by Dana Penney, PhD Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in conjunction with MIT researcher Randall Davis, PhD is designed as a home-grown single center pilot study.

    Drs. Penney and Davis have created a new approach to cognitive assessment (a digital version) that complements existing measures, but is far more sensitive at detecting and monitoring subtle impairment.  The primary aim of this study is to evaluate this approach for effectiveness in enabling detection of symptoms missed by current test administration of 2 common neurological screening tests, the Maze Completion Test and the Digit Span Test, in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, Parkinson’s disease and healthy controls.  The results will be correlated with diagnosis, medical history and diagnostic tests.

    DARPA Grant

    Randall Davis PhD (MIT) and Dana Penney, PhD ABN were awarded a $250,000 grant from the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) for their revolutionary digital Clock Drawing Test assessment system project.

    The project involves investigating how neuropsychological testing can be reconceived in light of newly available technology, potentially enabling it to be far more sensitive in detecting, monitoring, and analyzing subtle changes in cognitive capability. Initial efforts have focused on the Clock Drawing Test, whereby a digitizing ballpoint pen is used to capture very detailed information about pen position and timing and to detect and analyze both the drawing and the process that produced it. Together with the Lahey sponsored ClockSketch Consortium (eight cooperating clinics around the country that are administering the test using the digitizing pens and their software), Drs Penney and Davis are gathering and analyzing an extensive database of neuropsychological information.


    Funds from the DARPA grant will enable expansion of this effort to include assessing subtle cognitive impairment associated with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). mTBI is a risk factor for early dementia and the addition of this clinical group to the current research will help advance work on detecting cognitive markers for incident dementia.

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