Research at the Institute of Neuroscience

Research of the interdisciplinary faculty of the Institute of Neuroscience is supported by federal, state and private foundation grants include the following: 

  1. The UTRGV Institute of Neuroscience Center for Brain Health:
    Funded by a generous grant from the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation. Led by Dr. Ihsan Salloum. This grant supports training programs and faculty and research personnel and infrastructure of several departments of the School of Medicine including the Departments of Neuroscience, Neurology, Internal Medicine, Psychiatry, and Behavioral Health integration in Primary Care. 
  2. ION active research within the Department of Neuroscience include several federal and state supported studies in the following areas:

  1. Intervention Research for Complex Comorbidities: Treatment (clinical trials) research for mood and co-occurring alcohol use disorders supported by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institute of Health. These studies are led by Dr. Ihsan Salloum, Professor and Founding Chair, Department of Neuroscience and Director, Institute of Neuroscience. He is a national expert on innovative treatments for comorbid mood and substance use disorders.
  1. Stem Cell Therapy, Inflammation and Treatment Response in Alcoholism Depression Comorbidity. Major Goal: To test the efficacy of stem cell therapy compared to placebo in decreasing inflammation, alcohol use, and depression among patients with major depression and alcohol use disorder.
  1. Alzheimer’s and Aging Research: Led by Dr. Gladys Maestre, Professor of Neuroscience and Human Genetics and is a national expert on the Effect of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias on Hispanic / Latin X populations and their caregivers. She is also the director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center for Minority Aging Research. Dr. Maestre’s research is supported by the National Institute on Aging and the Texas Alzheimer’s Research and Care Consortium (TARCC) among others.
  1. Rio Grande Valley Alzheimer’s Resource Center for Minority Aging Research: Partnerships for Progress. Major Goal: To diversify the research workforce of minority aging and support the conduct of research aimed at reducing the impacts of Alzheimer´s disease in Hispanics.
  2. Integration of Socio-Spatial Data for Neighborhoods with Multi-omic Profiles to Identify and Mitigate Factors Affecting Risk of Alzheimer's Disease. Major Goal: To study how participant´s structural and social environment impacts cognitive health, mediated by biological pathways that are not simply attributable to genetics.
  3. Longitudinal Continuation of TARCC Hispanic Cohort (Neurological, Neuropsychological, Cerebrospinal, MRI morphometrics, and resting - state tMRI measures). Major Goal: To extend the TARCC Hispanic Cohort by including residents of South Texas.
  4. Promoting Diverse Perspectives: Addressing Health Disparities Related to Alzheimer's and other Dementias. Major Goal: To advance disparities research in dementia by the Alzheimer´s Association and UTRGV by developing and holding two 2-day conferences for which keynote, plenary, poster and other presentations will be integrated onto the NIA Health Disparities Research Framework (HDRF).
  5. Problem Solving Training (PST) for English- and Spanish-speaking Care Partners of adults with Alzheimer's and Alzheimer’s-related Dementias. Major Goal: To test an intervention based on problem-solving training of care partners of older adults with common causes of dementia in South Texas.
  6. The South Texas Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Major Goal: To develop infrastructure and data/bio-sample collections that will support researchers from multiple disciplines to conduct research to diminish the burden of Alzheimer’s Disease in Hispanics.
  7. International Symposium: Brain Aging and Dementia in Low-Resource Settings and Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) Major Goal: To organize and hold a 3-day conference about the current status, challenges, and opportunities for brain aging and dementia research and care in diverse populations in low-resource settings, including low- and middle-income countries.
  8. Alzheimer’s-focused Administrative Supplement to Enhance the Imaging Genomics of the Aging Brain Project. Major Goal: To extend our existing study to include a focus on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD). 
  1. Laboratory of Neuroimaging and Neuromodulation: Led by Dr. Kelsey Baker, Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience. Dr. Baker is a biomedical engineer with over 7 years of research experience in the field of neuroimaging, neurodegeneration, and plasticity. Her research is focused on 1) elucidating how varying degrees of damage in the brain and spinal cord can limit performance of devices that interface with the central nervous system, 2) developing technologies to boost adaptive re-mapping in hopes to circumvent inherent damage and, 3) evaluating strategies to boost re-myelination in the brain following neurological insult. Dr. Baker’s research is supported by the Department of Defense and the National Institute of Health including:
  1. Targeted High-Definition Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) to Improve Upper Limb Rehabilitation in spinal cord injury (SCI). Major Goal: To evaluate several applications of high definition tDCS in populations with spinal cord injury.
  2. Temporary Inactivation of Strong Muscle Sensation to Improve Rehabilitation Interventions in spinal cord injury (SCI). Major Goal: To initiate a clinical trial that will evaluate the use of temporary inactivation of strong muscle sensation to improve function of surrounding weaker muscles in the upper limb after SCI.
  3. Improving Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Interventions by Retraining the Brain. Major Goal: This is a Clinical Trial Award that will employ a Phase-II clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of conventional transcranial direct current stimulation in populations of spinal cord injury.

Institute of Neuroscience (UTRGV School of Medicine)


Ihsan M. Salloum, MD, MPH

Ihsan M. Salloum, MD, MPH, DLFAPA
Director, Institute of Neuroscience