Friends of BrainHealth Support Researchers in Early Stages

Distinguished New Scientist Awards Aid Studies of Memory, Impairment and Depression Issues

Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, Dee Wyly Distinguished Chair in Brain Health with Toni Brinker

From left: Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, the Center for BrainHealth’s founder and chief director; and Toni Brinker, who sponsored the 2012 Friends of BrainHealth luncheon.

The Friends of BrainHealth, a circle of donors who have made significant financial contributions to support brain research, have presented the “Friends of BrainHealth Distinguished New Scientist Awards” for the third year.

The awards are intended to support the work of exceptional brain scientists early in their careers.

“Scientific discovery at the Center for BrainHealth is ground-breaking and changing lives today – not a generation from now,” said Center for BrainHealth’s founder and chief director Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, who also holds the Dee Wyly Distinguished Chair in Brain Health. “Through the support of the Friends of BrainHealth, these innovative scientists, at a pivotal stage in their careers, will continue to impact the scientific community for years to come. This leading-edge research builds the foundation for future medical breakthroughs and furthers the Center for BrainHealth’s mission to understand, protect and heal the brain.”

Over the past three years, the Friends of BrainHealth have raised more than $600,000 and provided an opportunity for young scientists to begin their careers and spearhead their own research studies. These gifts all counted toward the center’s ambitious $30 million campaign goal, which is part of UT Dallas’ Realize the Vision campaign, a five-year effort to raise $200 million in private support. The center has already raised more than $14.5 million toward this goal.

Dr. Lori Cook, Center for BrainHealth

Dr. Lori Cook will assess and treat teens suffering from sports-related concussion injuries.

The Friends of BrainHealth announced three awards this year. 

Lyda Hill donated $25,000 to become a Visionary Friend of BrainHealth and further research into concussions and traumatic brain injury. Dr. Lori Cook will use the latest technology to provide targeted assessment and apply the Center for BrainHealth-developed Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training (SMART) to 20 teens who are suffering from the long-lasting effects of a sports-related concussion injury. For the first time, students will receive the SMART program through a one-on-one virtual platform and access this innovative brain training no matter where they live.

When asked why she chose to support Dr. Cook’s research, Lyda Hill commented, “The brain is the new frontier for science, and it is exciting to be part of unveiling knowledge that can aid young athletes through advanced technology and a virtual environment.”

Dr. Sheng Chiang, Center for BrainHealth

Dr. Sheng Chiang is studying non-invasive ways to identify patients at risk of cognitive impairment.

Linda and Joel Robuck donated $25,000 to become Visionary Friends of BrainHealth. As a member of the Friends of BrainHealth at the highest level, they chose to give the Linda and Joel Robuck Friends of BrainHealth Distinguished New Scientist Award to Dr. Sheng Chiang.  Chiang, a physician by training, is a PhD candidate studying under BrainHealth’s medical science director, Dr. John Hart Jr. Chiang’s research seeks ways to use non-invasive technology to detect abnormal changes in the brain to identify those who may have a higher risk of progressing to mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease in the future.

Joel Robuck said, "More and more people are suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and the problem is growing. With more innovative research like Dr. Chiang’s, we can detect and treat Alzheimer's earlier and positively affect the lives of those diagnosed.”

Nick Hubbard, doctoral candidate, Center for BrainHealth

Nick Hubbard will use imaging to learn more about brain function in depression patients.

Doctoral candidate Nick Hubbard, who is studying under BrainHealth’s Dr. Bart Rypma, was awarded the Friends of BrainHealth Distinguished New Scientist Award to further his research into depression. The proposed research study will use brain imaging to locate the source of negative thought persistence, or rumination, in the brain. Locating the rumination center in the brain will inform the precision of the new wave of therapies, expand treatment options, and improve the quality of life of millions of people who suffer from depression.

Toni Brinker, who sponsored the 2012 Friends of BrainHealth luncheon, summed up the purpose and mission of furthering the careers of young scientists, saying, “What Dr. Sandi Chapman and the Center for BrainHealth are doing is truly transformational. Their efforts mentor and support the next generation of young scientists and M.D.s whose specific quest in life is to solve brain-related maladies such as Alzheimer’s disease, depression, post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. Their research helps each and every one of us – directly through a friend or family member struggling or indirectly through the billions of dollars spent yearly trying to treat these diseases. These young men and women deserve our support, recognition and applause as they pursue their American dream to help us.

“The brain is the new frontier for science, and it is exciting to be part of unveiling knowledge that can aid young athletes through advanced technology and a virtual environment.”

Lyda Hill,
Visionary Friend of

Daffan Nettle and Pat McEvoy were luncheon co-chairs.

Friends of BrainHealth was established to empower members of the community to participate in and shape the research conducted at the Center for BrainHealth. Friends of BrainHealth offers six membership levels: Companion ($500), Friend ($1,000), Special Friend ($2,500), Esteemed Friend ($5,000), Distinguished Friend ($10,000), and Visionary Friend ($25,000).

This year’s Distinguished Friends are: Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Hawkins, Ms. Samara Kline and Rev. Andy McCarthy, and Mrs. Charles Wyly. Esteemed Friends of BrainHealth for the 2011-2012 year are: Mr and Mrs. Gene Carter, Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Corrigan, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Cree, Mr. and Mrs. Philip Dial, Mr. and Mrs. Phil Drayer, Mr. and Mrs. William Jesse, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Kozmetsky, Mr. and Mrs. H. Ross Perot, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Stoffel, and Ms. Semra Treece.

Former honorary chairs of the Friends of BrainHealth include Toni and Norm Brinker, Sue Justice, Sammye Myers and Dee Wyly. Former chairs Friends of BrainHealth include Kimber Hartmann, Angie Kadesky and Daffan Nettle. The current chairs of the Friends of BrainHealth campaign are Anne Helbing and Caroline Gehan.

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