Focus On highlights faculty, staff, students and researchers at the UC Academic Health Center. To suggest someone to be featured, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Itís been a busy year for Joe Clark, PhD, a professor in the neurology department. Clark, an expert on vascular function and dysfunction during disease, co-chaired "Vasospasm 2011: the 11th Annual Conference on Neurovascular Events after Subarachnoid HemorrhageĒ in downtown Cincinnati. He also found time to work on a variety of research projects, including one involving the UC baseball team. A former ambulance attendant in New York, Clark is the author of "My Ambulance Education: Life and Death on the Streets of the City.Ē
Why did you come to UC, and what brought you here?
"I came to UC in January of 2000 after being in Oxford, England, for eight years. The former chair of neurology recruited me here to do stroke research. I came here because of the extremely strong neuroscience community that exists here at UC. There are tremendous resources and a fantastic community doing great work on many levels of the neuroscience spectrum. This includes stroke, brain injury, neurovascular diseases, behavior, cogitation; the list goes on and on. An attraction for me is that the links and opportunities for research scientists and clinical researchers to work together are very strong. All these things make moving to and working at UC very attractive and productive."
Share a bit about your current research focus.
"There are two main areas of research that I am involved in right now that I would like to talk about. First, I try to have research that is generating funding and a funding pipeline of new technologies to work on in the future. So Iíll outline two projects at different stages of development. I have a research project where we have developed a mouse model of an autism spectrum disorder and successfully treated those mice with a new drug. So now we are trying to commercialize that drug by getting FDA approval to try to treat patients with the disease. This project is a tremendous project with great collaborations between Cincinnati Childrenís Hospital Medical Center, the University of Cincinnati and the entrepreneur community.
"My other research is concerning neurocognitive interventions, including vision training, to improve cognitive and behavioral performance. Simply put, this is being used as a system to improve sports performance and neurocognitive parameters in baseball players. The program was implemented with the University of Cincinnati baseball team and resulted with substantially improved batting averages. Recall that my other research is developing a drug to treat an autism spectrum disorder, so neurocognitive interventions are a natural extension of that type of work. Again, this is a great collaboration with College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services, College of Medicine, Sports Medicine, Cincinnati Childrenís and Johnny Bench. Our goal is to try to develop methods to help young people to improve academic and sports performance with the neurocognitive-based vision training. It is very rewarding to see the athletes responding to the training.
"Our first publication on the training was recently accepted for publication."
What implications might your research have on patient care?
"I think that the treatment of an autism spectrum disorder will have a tremendous impact in improving the lives of those patients and their families. These individuals with this particular form of autism are unable to care for themselves, have severe speech deficiencies and seizure disorder. The families and caregivers of patients with autism are profoundly affected by having to care for their loved one. Freeing up the caregivers will impact their quality of life, too.
"Concerning the neurocognitive vision training, this will improve scholastic performance, academics and reading skills as well as athletic performance. Our hope is also that the students who undergo this training regimen will also have fewer sports related injuries because of improved reflexes. Right now we are trying to find local high school baseball teams who are interested in participating in a future research project we are developing."
Tell us a bit about yourself.
"Iím involved in animal rescue where we rescue and find homes for unwanted cats. Matching a catís personality to a loving family is very rewarding."