Healthcare Blog

For Research On Protective Effects Of Fish Oil In Stroke LSUHSC MD/PHD Student Awarded NIH Grant

May 26, 2017

Tiffany Niemoller, a 5th year MD/PhD student at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans Schools of Medicine and Graduate Studies, has been awarded a grant in the amount of $148,480 over four years by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. A training grant for individual predoctoral students, the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award is an individual fellowship (F30) is given to "promising applicants with the potential to become productive, independent, highly trained physician-scientists." It is a very competitive grant. The project is being supported with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Niemoller is working with Dr. Nicolas Bazan, Boyd Professor and Director, at the LSUHSC Neuroscience Center of Excellence. She is investigating potential therapeutic uses of novel omega-3 fatty acid derivatives in experimental stroke. Injuries like stroke affect the brain's ability to communicate which it does through signaling by chemicals messengers. Niemoller has identified new mechanisms by which omega-3 fatty acids influence cascades of pro-survival protein signaling. Her goal is to define these interactions and characterize their therapeutic potential specifically for the aging brain after stroke.

According to the National Institutes of Health, each year in the United States, there are more than 780,000 strokes. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the country and causes more serious long-term disabilities than any other disease. Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65 and the risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55. Stroke places a major health burden on our society in terms of mortality, morbidity and economic costs. The National Stroke Association estimates stroke costs the U.S. about $43 billion a year. Direct costs for medical care and therapy average $28 billion a year. The average cost per patient for the first 90 days after a stroke is $15,000 although 10 percent of those cases exceed $35,000.

"Tiffany is a very bright and talented medical student also working on a doctorate who came to LSU Health Sciences Center after she distinguished herself at the University of California Berkeley," said Dr. Nicolas Bazan, Boyd Professor and Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans. "It's remarkable how she has grasped an extremely complex research project and has already advanced knowledge about these signals that are decisive in whether brains cells live or die after stroke. Even at this young stage of her career, she is making a difference."

Leslie Capo
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center