Dr. Erkut Kucukboyaci of Kessler Foundation Named Switzer Research Fellow

NIDILRR fellowship funds study of the impact of a behavioral intervention on cognitive rehabilitation outcomes

East Hanover, NJ –October 18, 2018– Erkut Kucukboyaci, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in Traumatic Brain Injury Research at Kessler Foundation, has been awarded a 2018 Switzer Research Fellowship by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). The $70,000 Merit Award funds a collaborative study with NYU Langone Health’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center (NYU-CEC) and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). Researchers will investigate a behavioral telehealth intervention to improve rehabilitation outcomes for people with refractory epilepsy.

Dr. Kucukboyaci is the ninth Kessler Foundation postdoctoral fellow to receive a prestigious Switzer Award, according to John DeLuca, PhD, senior vice president of research and training at the Foundation. “These awards for young scientists are just one of the ways that NIDILIRR has advanced the field of rehabilitation research over the past four decades,” he remarked. “Our fellows have leveraged their Switzer Awards to launch productive careers, researching new ways to help individuals overcome the challenges of living with neurological conditions.”   

Refractory epilepsy is common after brain injury, and has debilitating consequences including barriers to independent living, education, and employment. This study will investigate the feasibility and efficacy of an 8-week phone intervention called Home-Based Self-management and Cognitive Training Changes Lives (HOBSCOTCH), a program developed by researchers at DHMC, specifically for people with epilepsy. The modules of the program, however, can be tailored to other neurological diseases, like multiple sclerosis. The protocol combines psycho-education, memory skills training, and problem-solving therapy to improve memory performance and quality of life in people with epilepsy.

“This Merit Award enables me to pursue research that prioritizes both cognitive rehabilitation and improved quality of life for individuals with epilepsy,” said Dr. Kucukboyaci. “This project will build on the Foundation’s partnerships with other federally funded, regional collaborators, as well as enhance our expertise in the clinical translation and dissemination of cognitive rehabilitation interventions for various deficits. The results of this study will help expand treatment options for people with refractory epilepsy and improve their overall function and health,” he concluded, “while providing a model for further dissemination of the cognitive treatments developed at Kessler Foundation.”

Patients will be recruited for the phone-based intervention at NYU-CEC. NYU-CEC staff will work with Kessler Foundation researchers to determine the barriers and solutions to successful clinical implementation of the HOBSCOTCH protocol.

For more information, or to enroll in a study, contact our Research Recruitment Specialist: researchstudies@kesslerfoundation.org.

Funding source: National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research, Grant #90SFGE0010-01-00.

About Switzer Research Fellowship Program

The purpose of the Switzer Research Fellow Program is to build research capacity by providing support to highly qualified individuals, including those with disabilities, to perform research on rehabilitation, independent living, and other experiences and outcomes of individuals with disabilities. Distinguished Fellowships require that an individual must have seven or more years of research experience in subject areas, methods, or techniques relevant to disability and rehabilitation research and must have a doctorate, other terminal degree, or comparable academic qualifications.

About Cognitive Rehabilitation Research at Kessler Foundation

Over the past two decades, Kessler Foundation’s cognitive research has grown in depth and scope. Advances have expanded the knowledge of cognitive deficits that are major contributors to disability. The unique neuroimaging capabilities of the Rocco Ortenzio Neuroimaging Center provide objective evidence of brain activity patterns that has accelerated the pace of discovery.  Under the leadership of director Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, developments in neurocognitive rehabilitation are improving care for persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the U.S. and abroad, and research is extending to new populations, including spinal cord injury and the elderly. Dr. Chiaravalloti also heads the Northern New Jersey TBI Model System (NNJTBIS), one of only 16 centers in the federally funded TBI Model System (TBIMS), a national network of care and research that begins with acute care and extends through the lifecycle. NNJTBIS is a collaborative project with Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation and five local trauma centers. Through NNJTBIS, scientists conduct research that benefits the TBI community, contribute research data to the national TBIMS database, translate findings into clinical care, and provide resources for individuals with TBI and their caregivers.

TBI research activities and postdoctoral training are funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR); Department of Veterans Affairs; Department of Defense, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Kessler Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, the New Jersey Commission for Brain Injury Research and the New Jersey Commission for Spinal Cord Injury Research.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes--including employment--for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Learn more by visiting www.KesslerFoundation.org

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Contacts

Carolann Murphy, PA; 973-324-8382; CMurphy@KesslerFoundation.org

Laura Viglione, MS; 973-323-3675; LViglione@KesslerFoundation.org