Dr. Georgopoulos Receives American Legion's Highest Award

Indianapolis, Indiana

The American Legion's Board of Directors announced on May 10 th that Apostolos Georgopoulos, Director of the Minneapolis VA Brain Sciences Center, has been awarded by unanimous vote the American Legion’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal for his “achievements in research on Gulf War illness as it affects an estimated 300,000 veterans and military personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan”. The medal is based on outstanding service to the community, state, and nation and has been awarded since 1921. Past recipients include Jonas Salk, Babe Ruth, General Eisenhower, Bob Hope, and Presidents Truman, Ford, George HW Bush, and George W Bush.

According to Dr. Georgopoulos:

This tremendous honor is a recognition of the contributions of the Minnesota Veterans in creating and supporting the American Legion Brain Sciences Chair of which I have been the privileged holder since 1991. Our efforts at the Brain Sciences Center of the Minneapolis VA Health Care System are culminating in major breakthroughs regarding Gulf War Illness and posttraumatic stress disorder, two conditions of major concern in our veterans. My heartfelt thanks to my collaborators, our Medical Center leadership, and all our supporters.

The award will be presented in August at the American Legion’s annual convention in Reno, NV by Charles Schmidt, National Commander: “on behalf of all our veterans and military personnel who will be the beneficiaries of your medical research accomplishments”.


Lisa James of the Brain Sciences Center is selected for Kunin Professorship

Lisa James, PhD, LP has been selected as the first Holder of the Kunin Professorship in Women’s Healthy Brain Aging. The Donor desires that Dr. James will conduct research on brain aging in women -- specifically research on women veterans who may also be patients in the Minneapolis VA Health Care System -- to determine the conditions and environments that best promote healthy brain aging in women. Women who are not veterans or patients at the VA are also included in this research. The Donor’s intent is that the University of Minnesota’s Medical School Dean, in partnership with the Neuroscience Department Chair, will use this position to continue to foster the relationship with the Minneapolis VA Healthcare System’s Brain Sciences Center, and assist in recruiting, supporting, and retaining outstanding faculty by providing permanent funds that supplement other sources of faculty support. This Fund is used at the Dean’s discretion in consultation with the Neuroscience Chair for purposes consistent with the Donor’s intent to support Lisa’s teaching, research, and service activity.


15th Annual Logistics Planning Service for VET'S Charity Golf Event

We are thrilled to share in the announcement of the 15th Annual Logistics Planning Service for VET’S Charity Golf Event that will be held June 10, 2017. This will be the 6th consecutive year that they have supported the Minneapolis VA Brain Sciences Center, helping us achieve breakthroughs in PTSD and other disorders affecting brain function, particularly Gulf War Illness. We thank them and everyone who supports this event not only for their funding, but for this resounding evidence of grass roots support for our research. We work to improve diagnoses and treatment of disorders that affect our veterans. For further information, click here


Transgressive Acts, General Combat Exposure, and Moral Injury

By Sheila Frankfurt, Patricia Frazier, & Brian Engdahl in Military Medicine

Sheila Frankfurt just publishede this article based on her PHD thesis completed at the Brain Sciences Center with Brian Engdahl's supervision. Hers is a major contribution that maps the area of moral injury in combat veterans. She is now a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Waco Texas VA Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans, taking care of veterans and continuing her research to improve PTSD treatment.

Moral injury describes the negative effects of acts of commission (e.g., killing noncombatants), omission (e.g., failing to prevent a massacre), or betrayal (i.e., by a trusted authority figure). These acts transgress accepted behavioral boundaries and norms. They can lead to a guilt- and shame-based mix of PTSD symptoms, demoralization, self-handicapping, and self-injury. We looked at the relationships among moral injury, transgressive acts, PTSD symptoms, guilt, and fear.

Results: 38% of 190 combat veterans reported a transgressive act as one of their three worst traumatic events. The most common was killing an enemy combatant (17%). Transgressive acts were indirectly related to both suicidality and PTSD symptoms through guilt. General combat exposure was indirectly related to PTSD through fear.

Conclusions: Veterans who experienced transgressive acts may come to the VA with combat-related guilt and associated symptoms. Therefore focusing on fear-related outcomes and ignoring guilt- and shame-based reactions may lead to incomplete treatment. Those of us working with veterans with moral injury must prepare ourselves to bear witness to and empathize with veterans’ memories of their actions, which may include atrocities. Effective and understanding treatment that addresses the guilt and shame associated with transgressive acts is needed to provide the best care for our veterans.


Senator Amy Klobuchar visits the Brain Sciences Center to observe the magnetoencephalography machine. (photo: On the Beat, VA Minneapolis)

Sen. Klobuchar briefed on Gulf War Illness research at Minneapolis VA Medical Center

From the article:

"U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar made a whirlwind visit to the Minneapolis VA Medical Center on February 11th.

The senator visited the Brain Sciences Center to observe the magnetoencephalography machine.

In the briefing, Dr. Engdahl presented results of a study titled "Gulf War Illness is a Neuroimmune Disorder""


Brain Sciences Center researchers Lisa James, Brian Engdahl, and Apostolos Georgopoulos stand next to MEG machine (photo: April Eilers, VA Minneapolis)

Veterans Affairs article features Brain Sciences Study

From the article:

"Twenty-five years ago, Brian Zimmerman was a strong 6-foot-1 inch, 185-pound Army infantryman in prime physical condition fighting Iraqi forces in Operation Desert Storm.

He witnessed charred Iraqi bodies on the "Highway of Death," including a dead child, took part in a tank battle, and was close to an Iraqi ammunition depot called Khamisiyah that upon detonation is believed to have released nerve agents such as sarin and cyclosarin in the direction of U.S. troops.

Today, Zimmerman, 45, is still entrenched in a battle, but one worlds apart from his military days. "

more ...


Brain Sciences Center well represented at 2016 Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Confrence

In early November, seven of the Brian Sciences Center's researchers presented posters at the SfN confrence in San Diego. The confrence connected a total of 30,353 attendees from 80 countries with 557 exhibiting companies, 14,020 posters, and more than 850 sessions.

  • Rachel Johnson presented Congnitive function in veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a poster investigating the results of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) performance of study veterans from PTSD and healthy control groups.

  • Peka Christova presented Intrinsic functional organization of the human motor cortex, a poster investigating ways to analysis high resolution and high speed MRI data, using data from the Human Connectome Project

  • Lisa James presented Neural network decorrelation for healthy brain aging: A cross-sectional and longitudinal MEG study, a poster investigating the process of decorrelation in neural networks as the brain ages
  • Lisa James presented Nutrition and healthy brain functioning across the lifespan, a poster investigating the effects of nutrition and dietary habits on healthy brain function across the lifespan

  • Jasime Joseph presented Functional motor cortical connectivity in twins and non-related individuals, a poster investigating the associations between the brains of twins compared to that of randomly paired people
  • Art Leuthold presented Dynamic cortical network processing of a somesthetic stimulus as revealed by magnetoencephalography (MEG), a poster investigating the dynamic interatction among cortical areas while processing a stimuli

  • Chelley Chorn presented Hemisphere- and lag-dependent differences in dynamic neural interactions in schizophrenia, a poster comparing neural interatctions between schizophrenia patients and healthy controls using cross-correlation functions

Updated July 13, 2016