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Research Snapshot: Unmatched insights into deep brain stimulation through MRI

U of M researchers are developing three-dimensional patient-specific anatomical models of the brain that allows physicians to identify and pinpoint an exact target location for deep brain stimulation.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a procedure that is used to treat movement disorders including Parkinson’s disease, tremor and dystonia. To improve symptoms, a DBS lead (insulated wire) is surgically inserted deep within the brain in sites known to control movement.

Electrical impulses are sent from the neurostimulator, also known as a brain pacemaker, to the lead implanted in the brain. The stimulation changes the pattern of electrical activity in the brain into a more normal pattern, thereby improving symptoms and returning more normal movement to patients.

Choosing the target location for the lead is of critical importance. Standard protocol among physicians around the world is to use a brain atlas developed from two French women who donated their brains to science many years ago. From there physicians superimpose the patient’s own brain MRI images and calculate a plan to implant the electrodes in the brain.

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U of M researcher works to prevent disease transmission in pumas

Photo: Puma via Flickr user fPat Murray/CC 2.0/

Minnesota may not seem like the obvious place for researching disease transmission and prevention among America’s large wild felids. But through collaborations with Colorado State University, the University of Tasmania, and state and federal agencies, the University of Minnesota will soon begin work studying six wild puma populations in California and Colorado, in addition to Florida’s endangered panther.

The work to study pathogens in puma populations is made possible through a new $2.14 million grant shared among the three institutions from the National Science Foundation.

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Research Snapshot: Modeling how the flu moves through pig farms

Photo: Bertconcepts via Flickr CC 2.0/

Humans aren’t the only ones who can contract the flu.

Influenza A viruses can also affect pigs and their piglets, which is why, just like in human populations, pig populations are commonly vaccinated against the flu.

Last week, University of Minnesota researchers published a new model addressing how swine producers approach vaccinating their pigs.

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Research Snapshot: MRI helps find cancer needle in a haystack

Photo: John Pavelka/CC by 2.0

In previous posts, Health Talk took you inside the broad capabilities and applications of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in research efforts at the U of M’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR).

According to Curtis Corum, Ph.D., assistant professor of radiology in CMRR, finding small tumors can be like finding needles in a haystack. Because catching cancer early – when tumors are at their smallest – can be essential to treatment success, finding those needles is important work. So what if the task could be made less challenging? What if there was a way to remove the haystack so that only needles remained?

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U of M study: Increasing access to and awareness of doula support may be beneficial financially and medically

A new study shows increased access to continuous labor support from a birth doula may help decrease non-indicated cesarean births among women who desire doula care. The research was conducted at the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota.

A doula is a trained professional who provides support to women before, during, and after childbirth. This study examined who has access to doula care and the benefits of that access among a national sample of 2,400 women who gave birth in 2011-2012.

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University of Minnesota brings research opportunities to fairgoers

The University of Minnesota’s new Driven to Discover Building will open its doors at this year’s Great Minnesota Get-Together. This new collaboration will connect researchers with more than 1.7 million State Fair attendees each year.

The building houses more than 30 University research groups, who will engage adults and children in research focusing on a wide array of topics such as bullying, genetics, jury decision-making, and more. Not only is the new building an example of operational excellence, the combination of the building and State Fair, is an excellent representation of the University’s efficient research and outreach efforts.

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