Campus briefs


Heart and Brain Research Institute given new name, announces pilot projects

The Stanley and Judith Frankel Institute for Heart and Brain Health is the new name of one of Michigan Medicine’s latest research institutes. Established in September 2022 by the Medical School’s Executive Committee, the institute is led by inaugural director Anthony Rosenzweig, professor of internal medicine and of pharmacology in the Medical School. The institute’s missions are to uncover the root causes of heart and brain diseases and understand how these organs impact each other, with the goal of developing new treatments. The institute also recently announced the recipients of its Innovative Multidisciplinary Research Pilot Award, which provides $100,000 annually for two years to support highly innovative research with the potential to substantively impact heart and brain health. Sharan Srinivasan, assistant professor of neurology, and Hayley McLoughlin, assistant professor of neurology and of human genetics, received a pilot award to examine the effects of exercise in a model of cerebellar ataxia. Todd Hollon, assistant professor of neurosurgery, and Honglak Lee, professor of electrical engineering and computer science in the College of Engineering, also received a pilot award to create an AI model to analyze heart-brain connections.

UM-Flint’s College of Health Sciences adds online Master of Social Work program

UM-Flint’s College of Health Sciences will introduce a new Master of Social Work program this fall to its growing roster of graduate offerings.  The online program will feature a specialized mental health and behavioral health services curriculum, equipping graduates to become licensed master’s level social workers prepared for impactful careers in promoting the well-being of individuals, families and communities. The program will offer a foundational curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary theory, research, policy and generalist social work practice methods. Coursework in the specialized curriculum will focus on advanced research, policy, and mental and behavioral health treatment and intervention strategies. Students will engage in in-person internships at social service agencies throughout Genesee County or in their local areas as they apply their academic learning to real-world situations. The MSW program will offer a regular-standing option — for those students without a bachelor’s degree in social work — and an advanced standing pathway for students who have previously earned a BSW. Learn more about the program.

U-M offers a low-cost solution for impaired-driver detection tech

Cameras similar to those already on newer model cars, combined with facial recognition tools, could read the “tells” of impairment in the face and upper body of a driver, U-M engineers have shown. This low-cost system could effectively detect drunk, drowsy or distracted drivers before they get on the road — or while they are on the road. A new federal requirement for all new passenger vehicles to have this safeguard passed as part of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the deadline could come as soon as 2026. While the details are up in the air, the U-M team is confident that their system can meet the new requirements in a cost-effective way. “You already see these 3D camera technologies in products like smartphones, tablets and mixed reality devices,” said Mohammed Islam, professor of electrical engineering and computer science who leads the project. “And these are small, inexpensive cameras that can easily be mounted on the rearview mirror, the steering column or other places in the driver’s cockpit.” Read more about this work.

Hill Street construction detours affecting campus transportation routes

The city of Ann Arbor has begun the Hill Street Project, which will result in significant detours and delays due to closures on Hill Street. This construction is expected to continue until early fall. As a key route for campus transportation, this will notably affect the U-M bus service’s Commuter North and Commuter South bus services. The Commuter North route will be detoured, with service suspended at four stops, and riders on the Commuter South route should anticipate potential slowdowns. Additional details and recommendations are available.

Changes in flu circulation means changes for flu vaccines in United States

U.S. flu vaccines are likely to move from quadrivalent to trivalent due to a change in circulating influenza viruses, said Arnold Monto, professor emeritus of epidemiology and global public health at the School of Public Health. Currently, all influenza vaccines in the United States are quadrivalent, meaning that they protect against four different flu viruses. In a new paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers detail the spread of influenza B/Yamagata virus, which has not been in circulation since early 2020; the regulatory discussions and recommendations on updating vaccines; and the manufacturing considerations for new vaccine formulations for the U.S. and abroad. “The removal of B/Yamagata virus is logical as we do not want to include a virus in vaccine formulation that is no longer in circulation,” Monto said. “It also gives us the space to replace B/Yamagata virus with a component that will give improved protection against the circulating influenza viruses. That will take additional studies to accomplish.” Read the paper.

— Compiled by James Iseler, The University Record


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