Marshall University scientist receives Young Investigator Award for neonatal brain research

Monday, Oct. 1, 2018
  Michele McKnight, Community and Media Relations Coordinator, Marshall Health, 304-552-7982

Marshall University scientist receives Young Investigator Award for neonatal brain research

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine researcher W. Christopher Risher, Ph.D., has been awarded a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant for his work with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). 

Risher, an assistant professor in the department of biomedical sciences at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, will receive a two-year, $70,000 grant from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation to investigate brain development in babies born with NAS, a condition that occurs when babies are born in a state of withdrawal after exposure to opioids in utero. Approximately five percent of all babies born in West Virginia suffer from this condition, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. Risher will use a mouse model to determine how prenatal opioid exposure affects nervous system structure and connectivity.

“I hope this research will uncover innovative drug targets that can correct the brain abnormalities that arise as a result of drug abuse by pregnant mothers,” Risher said. “Our goal is to improve the outcome for children directly afflicted by the opioid epidemic.”

The NARSAD Young Investigator Grant awards help researchers launch careers in neuroscience and psychiatry and gather pilot data to apply for larger federal and university grants. 

“Novel research by our excellent junior faculty like Chris Risher is essential to address the opioid crisis in West Virginia,” said Uma Sundaram, M.D., vice dean for research and graduate education at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.  “Awards like the NARSAD Young Investigator Grant are critical in fueling the research among our junior faculty and ultimately building the research enterprise at Marshall University.”


Date Posted: Monday, October 1, 2018