Friends of BrainHealth Raises $302,000, Awards Research Grants

Friends of BrainHealth

From left: Lee Ann Young, Bambi DeLaRosa, Dr. Nyaz Didehbani and Dr. Lori Cook each received $25,000 research grants from the Friends of BrainHealth at a luncheon last week.

The Friends of BrainHealth, a donor circle dedicated to advancing research discoveries at the Center for BrainHealth, raised more than $302,000 this year and awarded four $25,000 research grants to young scientists at the annual Friends of BrainHealth Scientist Selection Luncheon. 

The center’s graduate students, doctoral candidates and postdoctoral candidates competed for the program’s awards that allow them to design and lead research early in their careers. A selection committee narrowed the field to six finalists who were showcased at the luncheon, which drew more than 90 members at the Dallas Country Club on Sept. 17.

Lee Ann Young, a doctoral student in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and research assistant for Dr. Daniel Krawczyk, the Debbie and Jim Francis Chair in BrainHealth, received a $25,000 award from Linda and Joel Robuck.

She will use her award to establish a basis for future work designed to develop a comprehensive, individualized diagnosis and treatment for traumatic brain injury. Her work uses a virtual reality platform that mimics real-life cognitive load and aims to provide more accurate assessments than tests in a traditional clinical setting. 

These awards give our young scientists a career-accelerating opportunity that builds the foundation for making major breakthroughs on a grand scale.

Kimber Hartmann,
the Center for BrainHealth’s development director

“We believe the research is of the highest quality and its emphasis on translating its findings into useful solutions uniquely positions the center to address pressing brain health needs quickly,” Joel Robuck said. 

The Sapphire Foundation awarded a $25,000 grant to Dr. Lori Cook, an adjunct assistant professor who completed her postdoctoral fellowship in the lab of Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, the center’s founder and chief director and Dee Wyly Distinguished University Chair. She will investigate how to use strategy-based curriculum to prepare the minds of elementary school-age children for complex learning. 

“Sapphire is very pleased to be able to support Dr. Cook’s research as it aligns with the foundation’s desire to impact education and the learning process in a meaningful way,” said Dana Juett, Sapphire Foundation CEO.

Dr. Nyaz Didehbani, a research scientist and former postdoctoral fellow in the lab of medical science director Dr. John Hart Jr., received the Katherine and Bob Penn Distinguished New Scientist award. Her study explores the efficacy of an ocular test that assesses youth sports concussions on the playing field.

“Concussions are a serious problem for athletes at every level of sports, both professionals as well as students. We are excited about the research that Dr. Didehbani has done to address this issue and are so pleased to support the fine work on it,” Bob Penn said.

Friends of BrainHealth

The Friends of BrainHealth kicks off its 2015 campaign with incoming co-chairs, Lucy Billingsley and Lindsay Billingsley, on Nov. 1.

Friends of BrainHealth offers seven membership levels: Junior Friend ($250) Companion ($500), Friend ($1,000), Special Friend ($2,500), Esteemed Friend ($5,000), Distinguished Friend ($10,000) and Visionary Friend ($25,000). To join, visit

Bambi DeLaRosa, a doctoral student of Hart’s, was awarded $25,000 to use electroencephalography neurofeedback to help understand the relationship between brain waves and performance, with the prospect of implementing brain training to extend an individual’s cognitive abilities in healthy aging.

“These awards give our young scientists a career-accelerating opportunity that builds the foundation for making major breakthroughs on a grand scale,” said Kimber Hartmann, the center’s development director. “We are extraordinarily grateful to have such a forward-thinking group of donors who are interested in cultivating future scientific leaders.”

Tracy and Ballard Castleman, 2014 Friends of BrainHealth chairs, along with membership chairs Helen and Rives Castleman spearheaded this year’s effort.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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