CINCINNATI—The University of Cincinnati and its affiliates, including the Mayfield Clinic, have been named one of eight U.S. academic partners of the nonprofit One Mind for Research, which is mounting a global quest to cure brain disease and eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness and brain injury.
The partnership could lead to expanded research and study of combat-related brain injuries and other neurological conditions at UC and its affiliates.
The Seattle-based organization, co-founded by former Rep. Patrick Kennedy and mental health advocate Garen Staglin, aligns healthcare providers, researchers, scholars and the healthcare industry to cure traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Alzheimer’s disease, depression and other neurological conditions. Gen. Peter Chiarelli (ret.), former vice chief of staff for the U.S. Army, is chief executive officer of the One Mind for Research.
As vice chief of staff for the Army, Chiarelli, who retired in January 2012, worked to reduce suicide rates in the Army and to eliminate the stigma associated with the invisible scars left by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars’ signature wounds: traumatic brain injury (TBI) and PTSD. He has proposed changing the word "disorder” in PTSD to "injury” to further reduce stigma, which prevents many service members and veterans from seeking the treatments they need. The Web site www.1mind4research.org identifies the condition as post traumatic stress, or PTS.
Chiarelli and UC-affiliated researchers will kick off their partnership at a public discussion of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. The discussion and reception are free and open to the public, but those wishing to attend are asked to make a reservation by calling 513-792-2165.
Chiarelli says UC and its affiliates were selected as academic partners because of "the expansive research efforts” under way at UC, the Mayfield Clinic, the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute, UC Health University Hospital, the Cincinnati Department of Veteran’s Affairs and Lindner Center of HOPE. "Cincinnati also has a quiet reputation as a major financial supporter of wounded veterans,” Chiarelli says.
Other academic partners of One Mind include the Harvard University-affiliated Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, the University of California, San Francisco, the University of Michigan Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics Department, and the Eisenhower Army Medical Center, Fort Gordon, Ga.
"The Mayfield Clinic and University of Cincinnati are honored to partner with One Mind for Research,” says Mario Zuccarello, MD, the Frank H. Mayfield Professor and Chairman of the UC Department of Neurosurgery. "Our physicians and basic science researchers are deeply involved in research related to traumatic brain injury and neurological disease, and we look forward to opportunities to collaborate and share our ideas and knowledge in new ways.”
Traumatic brain injury, PTSD and depression afflict millions of people across the spectrum of life, from those injured in vehicle accidents to survivors of domestic violence to the 14 million U.S. adults who suffer from depression. The Centers for Disease Control report that, each year, approximately 1.7 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury, the leading cause of death and disability among people aged 16 to 45.² The suicide rate in America, at 11.5 per 100,000 population, has gone unchanged during the last 40 years and is the 11th leading cause of death, overall and among the top five in young people.
But no segment of society has paid a greater price than those serving in America's military. While TBI and PTSD emerged as the defining injuries of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of soldiers have struggled with the invisible and often chronic aftermath of these injuries. Many have resisted treatment for fear of compromising their potential for advancement or for appearing weak.
The highest costs have been reflected in suicide statistics. During the first five months of 2012, suicides among active-duty soldiers averaged nearly one a day, the highest rate during America's 10 years of war. In 2008 and 2009, suicide totals exceeded the number of U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan.
Chiarelli has argued that scientific knowledge about the brain’s function "is 30 to 40 years behind the rest of medical science,” mostly because of cultural stigma, but also as a result of poor diagnostic tools and a lack of funding. He hopes that One Mind for Research can break through those barriers by serving as the catalyst that promotes the sharing of knowledge and ideas.
"My goal is to advance the vision of One Mind’s founders to eliminate stigma and accelerate our understanding of the last frontier of the human body – the brain – so that we can provide effective cures for those suffering and their families,” Chiarelli says.
In Los Angeles in September, One Mind will hold its first major fundraiser, hosted by actor Tom Hanks, Chiarelli, Staglin and Kennedy.