The International Brain Research Foundation, Inc. (IBRF), a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation registered in New York State and New Jersey, is dedicated to making advances in translational neuroscientific research to support progress in novel care utilizing advanced treatment protocols. Through a network of neuroscientists and clinicians, the IBRF is developing partnerships with numerous institutions worldwide to meet that end. Through this global reach, the IBRF is able to expedite discovery and to accelerate the scientific findings in an efficient manner, which ultimately will accelerate the scientific community’s progress in solving some of the complex issues related to brain health and disease processes.
The IBRF mission is multifaceted, with a vision toward advancing cutting-edge brain research through global collaboration. The foundation goals consist of designing, conducting, supporting, and overseeing research studies in brain disorders. The IBRF is making progress in the application and development of brain mapping techniques, nanotechnology, brain-computer interface and other ground-breaking technologies to further advance diagnostic and interventional capabilities in neuroscience. We have developed multi-center international collaborations and opportunities for grants as well as instituting multi-university training and educational programs on leading-edge neuroscience, including certification programs, lecture series, seminars, and conferences.
In 2005, the IBRF was founded based on a desire to modify the inefficiencies surrounding grant-based research, and to accelerate translational clinical research to clinical practice. On average, 40-68% of monies that are donated to research today are consumed by operational overhead. The typical research scientist today faces a myriad of obstacles in trying to obtain grants. The IBRF streamlines this process to eliminate many of the burdens associated with grant-based funding by supporting research alliances, allowing scientists to devote the majority of their time to their respective research efforts.
In our efforts, the IBRF focuses on three major areas: traumatic and non-traumatic brain injury, neurodevelopmental issues (e.g. autism), and neurodegenerative disorders (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease). We have developed a multimodal, “neuromarker-driven” model of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. This model utilizes neuroimaging, neurophysiology, and neuropsychology in establishing assessment data to accurately diagnose brain disorders.
Functional imaging data can give us very specific, clinically relevant information that can lead to more effective diagnostics that can help direct better targeted therapeutics. Within the context of the functioning brain, these neuromarkers look at electrical and magnetic waveforms, blood flow, blood oxygen consumption, glucose consumption, levels of neurotransmitters (e.g. dopamine, serotonin, n-acetyl aspartate, glutamate, endorphins), as well as metabolic markers from blood, cerebral spinal fluid, and saliva. Evaluating these discrete components of brain functioning within the framework of a multivariate systems approach is the basis of our “Integrity-Deficit Matrix.” This systems approach assists our IBRF collaborators to develop assessment algorithms. Specifically, for mTBI, we are starting to utilize methodologies that assess “functional brain maps” to assist us in differentiating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from mild traumatic brain injury.
The brain-mapping assessment can then be utilized in the formation of specific, individualized treatment protocols based on the unique brain mapping of each patient. Our treatment protocols include the use of qEEG-guided neurofeedback, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), median nerve stimulation (MNS), and the synergistic use of “nutraceuticals”, combined with “off label” use of pharmaceuticals, together with more traditional forms of therapy.
The IBRF has received some high profile attention starting with the successful treatment of a 12-year-old New Jersey boy who suffered a rare condition called commotio cordis, which resulted in a vegetative state for three months following a baseball striking his chest. Additionally, the IBRF team, led by Julian Bailes, M.D., successfully treated the sole survivor of the Sago West Virginia coal mine disaster. The IBRF coma recovery team was consulted by doctors treating Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after his stroke. Since that time, the IBRF team has successfully treated dozens of patients considered “hopeless” by standard definitions.
Currently, we have collaborative research affiliations with Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation (KIR), The Kessler Research Foundation, New York University (NYU), Louisiana State University (LSU), and Harvard Medical School. Our long list of world-wide associated research scientists and clinicians is extensive and encompasses many fields of expertise.
Currently, the IBRF has been granted the largest Congressional appropriation for civilian funding through the Department of Defense appropriations bill (FY-09) to develop our assessment algorithms and treatment protocols focusing on patients suffering from severe traumatic brain injury with an associated severe disorder of consciousness. Additionally, IBRF is involved in a national consortium for the Department of Defense to develop the latest in research initiatives and to continue to develop a new paradigm for understanding and treating brain injury.
We at the IBRF are in the early stages of data collection with plans to release this clinical research information through a series of articles now being prepared. The International Brain Research Foundation encourages top researchers to join us in our endeavors to establish joint working relationships in the areas of translational clinical research, advanced treatment programs and educational programs for TBI and NTBI.
This past November, while attending the International Workshop on the Rehabilitation of the Severe Acquired Brain Injury in Rome, I had the opportunity to meet with Nathan Zasler, M.D., Chairperson of the International Brain Injury Association (IBIA). We discussed developing a working relationship given that IBRF and the IBIA are both international organizations with overlapping missions. We are advocating for cooperation between the two organizations to improve the science of brain injury in a mutually beneficial manner. We at the IBRF look forward to hearing from members of the IBIA to develop collaborative working relationships. For more information please view our website at www.IBRFinc.org (The website is currently in the process of being revised.)
Philip A. De Fina, PhD is a clinical neuropsychologist and he is the founder of the International Brain Research Foundation,Inc. (IBRF) Dr. De Fina is Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer of IBRF and serves as Chief consultant to the Severe Disorders of Consciousness Program at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. He also serves as Chief Research Consultant to the Comprehensive Neuroscience Center, in Edison, New Jersey. In the past he founded and developed the first national Post Graduate training program in neuropsychology at the Fielding Graduate University. He has been a Guest Researcher at the National Institutes of Health and was a member of the World Health Organization Neuroscience Subcommittee. He has been a faculty member at the New York University School of Medicine and at the University of Maryland.