The mission of the Atlanta VAMC Rehabilitation Research and Development Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation (CVNR) is to foster the best possible health and well-being of Veterans through uniquely synergistic research studies targeting disorders impacting visual and/or neurocognitive function. Our Center's organization is designed to catalyze synergies amongst collaborating CVNR researchers and with scientist and clinician affiliates to maximize and accelerate tangible benefits for Veterans' health. The Internal Steering Group is the hub of CVNR operational decisions and comprises Krish Sathian, MD, PhD (Executive Director); Bruce Crosson, PhD (Executive Associate Director); Machelle Pardue, PhD (Associate Director for Scientific Projects); Steven Wolf, PT, PhD (Associate Director for Training), Patricia Griffiths, PhD (Assistant Director for Outreach); Keith McGregor, PhD (Career Development Awardees' Representative); and Lisa Calas (Administrative Officer). The CVNR has three Research Programs: (A) Retinal & Neural Repair, (B) Visual Rehabilitation, and (C) Neurocognitive Rehabilitation. The CVNR's emphasis is on highly collaborative research efforts that straddle and integrate across the Programs. To this end, we plan three Integrative Projects that each draw on expertise and ideas from multiple Programs: (1) Physical exercise to prevent progression of age-related macular degeneration in Veterans; (2) Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in aging and stroke: mechanistic pre-clinical studies using animal models; and (3) Making a psycho-educational tele- rehabilitative sleep intervention accessible for Veterans with visual impairment and their cohabitating care- partners. Each of these projects will be funded by the CVNR for an initial 2-year period, with the goal of seeding extramurally funded research by that time. In subsequent years, additional Integrative Projects will be funded after competitive review. Note that the activity of CVNR investigators is not limited to these Integrative Projects; each investigator is involved in multiple other projects that will be further enriched by the experiences and results of the Integrative Projects. The CVNR will also fund a set of Cores to provide services to investigators. Three of these are ongoing: a Neuroimaging Core directed by Dr. Crosson, a Molecular Biology Core directed by Dr. Boatright, and an Administrative Core directed by Ms. Calas. Two additional Cores will be added in year 3 of the new grant cycle: a Physical Exercise Core directed by Dr. Nocera and a Tele-rehabilitation Core co-directed by Drs. Griffiths and McGregor and Mr. Ross. The CVNR has strong ties with local affiliates, including the Birmingham-Atlanta GRECC; Emory University, particularly its imaging centers, its Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, and its Departments of Neurology, Ophthalmology and Rehabilitation Medicine; Georgia Institute of Technology; the joint Biomedical Engineering Department of Emory and Georgia Tech; and Georgia State University. Our research findings will be shared through the national network of Centers, disseminated in the scientific literature and at scientific meetings, presented to VA and other clinicians locally and nationally, and distilled into educational programs for Veterans, other consumer groups, and the community. The CVNR is committed to capacity building by recruiting trainees as well as junior and senior investigators into the VA system and providing trainees with outstanding mentorship to ensure the continued vitality of rehabilitation research.
The Rehabilitation Research & Development Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation (CVNR) targets both visual and neurocognitive changes in healthy aging and disease, highly significant problems in the aging Veteran population. The ongoing and proposed research comprises pre-clinical studies in experimental animals, clinical trials in human patients and community-based studies of the implementation of new treatments. These interlinked studies are designed to test new interventions and rehabilitative strategies that have a scientific basis for enhancing protection against degenerative diseases of the retina and brain, and promoting recovery of function in Veterans with visual and neurocognitive impairments.