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Cohen Veterans Bioscience


The Circuit
Quarterly Brain Health News - June 2020

An Important Message From CEO & President Dr. Magali Haas

Dear Friends, Family and Colleagues, 

In the past few months, we as a society have found ourselves on the precipice of many changes. The convergence of recent public health crises—from the continued threat of COVID-19 to the social trauma of racial injustices—have strengthened our resolve as an organization to continue our mission to heal the invisible wounds of all trauma. We remain dedicated to changing the approach to the treatment and diagnosis of trauma-related brain disorders so that those who suffer the devastating effects of trauma will have the tools necessary to heal. 

As June is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, we reflect on the wide-reaching effects of trauma and the 8.6 million Americans who walk among us that experience PTSD as a result of trauma. While treatments for PTSD do exist, many treatments are ineffective or partially effective for some individuals and we still lack diagnostics or a definitive cure. Our organization remains steadfast in our push to develop tools and technologies that will not only elucidate the biological causes of PTSD but also accelerate the development of next generation treatments in years, not decades. 

In the newsletter that follows, we will share an experience from an individual living with PTSD, perspectives of our partner organizations who are aligned in our mission to advance brain health and highlights from our progress with the identification of predictive biomarkers for PTSD.

How we are advancing PTSD research:

  • Co-sponsoring with the Psychiatric Genetics Consortium and Broad Institute the Discovery of six genetic risk markers associated with PTSD and confirmation there is a substantial genetic component to PTSD.
  • Funding Stanford University to identify brain activity patterns to support patient prognosis and assist practitioners in matching patients to the most effective available treatments. 
  • Collaborating with Emory University, Massachusetts General Hospital and Rush University to develop biomarker-based diagnostics. 
  • Characterizing how distinct profiles of inflammation and the immune system can be used for diagnostics and disease progression.
  • Building and deploying a brain data sharing and analysis platform to standardize data collection through common data elements. 

As a leader in PTSD research, we know that trauma will always be something that we as a society must face. That is why now, more than ever, it is critical that we continue to make progress toward better treatments and diagnostics for PTSD to ensure that future generations will be able to tackle PTSD with evidence-based tools and technologies.

Thank you for your continued involvement with our organization in this mission.

Magali Haas, MD, PhD
Magali Haas, MD, PhD
CEO & President
Cohen Veterans Bioscience

Dr. Chantelle Ferland-Beckham
Living With PTSD Is A Continuous Challenge

By Chantelle Ferland-Beckham, PhD
Director of Policy & Advocacy, Cohen Veterans Bioscience

Experiencing trauma is not rare. An estimated 60 percent of all men and 50 percent of all women will experience at least one traumatic event in their lives. For most, trauma and its aftermath are temporary; the symptoms that follow are common and often our body and brain’s way of coping with the experience. For some, however, these feelings continue unchecked, affecting every aspect of daily life. This is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I am one of the 8.6 million Americans who are living with a lifetime PTSD diagnosis. Living with PTSD is a continuous challenge. But its one I have lived with for most of my life.

Continue Reading
June is PTSD Awareness Month
PTSD Awareness Month 2020
Learn more about PTSD, what we’re doing to improve its diagnosis and treatment, and what resources are available for those suffering from PTSD

The goal of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month is to encourage the public to be aware of the symptoms and causes of PTSD, as well as advance the discussion about the need for better diagnosis, treatment, and care for those suffering from the effects of trauma.

Learn more about PTSD Awareness Month
and PTSD Awareness Day, June 27.

Biomarkers: Accelerating the path to objective diagnostics and targeted treatments for PTSD

  • biomarker is a characteristic that is objectively measured and evaluated as an indicator of a normal or pathologic biological process or a response to a therapeutic intervention.
  • Why biomarkers?
    Developing biomarker-based diagnostics is essential to shifting diagnosis & treatment of PTSD from a symptom-based approach to a biological one that targets the effects of trauma at their molecular roots.
  • We’re advancing PTSD biomarker research through large-scale collaboration and data sharing, translating these findings into better diagnostics and treatments to improve the lives of those suffering from PTSD.

Featured PTSD Biomarker Programs

RAPID-Dx: Research Alliance for PTSD/TBI Innovation and Discovery Diagnostics

RAPID-Dx is CVB’s flagship biomarker discovery collaborative – fast-tracking the advancement of objective diagnostics for PTSD and TBI.

Developing biomarker-based diagnostics is essential to shifting diagnosis & treatment of PTSD and TBI from a syndromic, symptom-based approach to a biological, mechanistically-based one that targets the effects of trauma at their molecular roots. Many potential biomarkers of PTSD & TBI published in the literature have not been independently replicated or advanced through a qualification process for regulatory approval and use.

RAPID-Dx is collecting data and performing studies necessary to discover and replicate biomarkers and qualify successful and relevant candidates for development as clinical diagnostics.

Learn more

Bioassay “Bake-off” to Assess Ability to Quantify Inflammatory Signatures in Blood for Brain Disorders
Evaluating the role of inflammation and the immune system across neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases

The role of inflammation and the immune system across neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases is important to understand, and depends on an ability to measure, with precision, cytokines in the various fluids including blood, cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF), and saliva.

Characterizing distinct cytokine profiles in brain disease may provide an objective measure, or biomarker, for disease diagnosis or understanding likely disease progression. 

Learn more

Advancing Personalized Medicine for PTSD Using Imaging Biomarkers

Biomarker Establishment for Superior Treatment of PTSD Study

CVB has teamed up with Stanford University to study clinical biomarkers and identify brain activity patterns – or neural signatures – in PTSD to help match patients to the most effective available treatment.

Learn more

Global PTSD Genetics Consortium
Global PTSD Genetics Consortium: Discovering the Biological Underpinnings of PTSD

When studying genetics, we look at all of our genes (the whole genome), and assess for differences across people – genetic variants. However, robust genetic variants for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have yet to be identified, and the specific genes involved in PTSD remain largely unknown.

A better understanding of the genetic risk factors of PTSD will help guide the development of treatments and diagnostics for people suffering from its effects and help inform strategies for the prevention of PTSD following exposure to trauma.

Learn more

Learn more about the impact of biomarker research

Webinar: The Power of Genetics in Predicting and Treating PTSD
Webinar: The Power of Genetics in Predicting and Treating PTSD
Join us on the frontlines of brain health research at our next biomarker webinar on July 8, 2020:
Biomarkers on the Brain Webinar

Featured Partners

Q&A with Robin King, CEO of The Navy SEAL Foundation and member of the Veterans Advisory Council

Cohen Veterans Bioscience and The Navy SEAL Foundation are two organizations who share a common vision of evidence-informed research to improve treatments and the lives of the active duty and Veterans community. The two organizations have collaborated on projects and events over the past few years and most recently, Robin King, CEO of the Navy SEAL Foundation, was appointed to the Veterans Advisory Council (VAC).

We had the opportunity to speak with Robin about why she joined VAC, her role on the Council and what Veterans issues she’d like VAC to address in 2020.

Read the full interview

NAVREF CEO Rick Starrs quote
New Collaboration With NAVREF Gives Veterans Better Access To Innovative Research Trials

Cohen Veterans Bioscience announced it is extending its commitment to the brain health of Veterans by supporting the National Association of Veterans Research Education Foundation (NAVREF) and the new Partnered Research Program (PRP), led by the VA Office of Research and Development (ORD).

A testament to the PRP launch's effectiveness is that it allowed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to partner with the VA on its COVID-19 trial, which was rapidly activated in under a week.

Learn more

Recent News & Brain Health Insights

BEAT-PD Data Release

BRAIN Commons Hosts Data for BEAT-PD DREAM Challenge with The Michael J. Fox Foundation & Sage Bionetworks

The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) in coordination with Sage Bionetworks and the BRAIN Commons (BC) launched the The Biomarker and Endpoint Assessment to Track Parkinson's Disease (BEAT-PD) Challenge in January 2020. The Challenge was designed to benchmark methods for the processing of unstructured (free-living) sensor data, in order to be predictive of Parkinson's Disease severity.

Participants were provided with raw sensor (accelerometer and gyroscope) time series data recorded during the course of daily living and were asked to predict individuals' medication state and symptom severity.

Data is now available to researchers once they have completed a request process, created by the BRAIN Commons Team in concert with MJFF, and have been approved.

Learn more and request data access
Is the Coronavirus Disrupting Your Sleep? – A Behavioral Sleep Expert Tells Us Why
Is the Coronavirus Disrupting Your Sleep? – A Behavioral Sleep Expert Tells Us Why

Do you find yourself sleeping less or sleeping more during this pandemic? Has the inability to carry on your normal routine affected your sleep patterns?

If so, Philip Gehrman, PhD, a clinical psychologist and behavioral sleep medicine expert at the University of Pennsylvania explains that this is not unusual.

Read the full interview

How to Maintain Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic
How to Maintain Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is upending life as we know it, including our routines, relationships and overall sense of well-being, and many people are struggling with the stress and anxiety these changes have caused.

As important as it is to recognize stress and anxiety, it’s also imperative to manage these feelings and actively work toward taking care of your mental health.

Learn more

Virtual Run/Walk to Support HERoes in Deed
Virtual Run/Walk to Support
HERoes in Deed

We're proud to have virtually participated in the HERo Run 2020 in support of HERoes in Deed.

Here are scenes from our team members running and walking across the country to support strengthening communities through fostering citizen and Veteran bonds.

Learn more about HERoes in Deed

Dr. David Biondi
Dr. David Biondi joins the CVB Board of Directors

Dr. David Biondi is joining the Cohen Veterans Bioscience Board of Directors.

Dr. Biondi recently retired after leading clinical program development as Executive Director of Clinical Programs at CVB, and he brings an important perspective to the board as a Veteran and neurologist.

Research In Action: Recent Publications

Cohen Veterans Bioscience supported the following research efforts:
Donate Today to Advance Solutions for PTSD

We need your help to ensure that no one who experiences trauma suffers the effects for a lifetime.

You've seen how our research is already making a difference, but we can't do it alone.

Donate today to fast-track precision diagnostics and targeted therapeutics for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):

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