KSU professor awarded $2.38 million grant to study brain injuries

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Blood test could be used to detect concussions in combat and athletics KENNESAW, Ga. (March 30,…

Georgia (Mar 30, 2011)Blood test could be used to detect concussions in combat and athletics

KENNESAW, Ga. (March 30, 2011) A Kennesaw State University professor has received a $2.38 million Department of Defense grant to validate a blood test designed to help medical personnel quickly diagnose concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI).

The test, developed by KSU Distinguished Professor of Health and Human Services Svetlana Dambinova, is able to assess a brain injury without the benefit of neuroimaging technology such as CT scans and MRIs. According to Dambinova, the blood test detects a peptide that is released into the bloodstream after an injury to the brain, which can cause a concussion or mTBI.

“This is especially helpful in a combat situation when those devices are not available because the quicker a brain injury is diagnosed, the better the chances for successful treatment,” said Dambinova.

Statistics show that concussions are a nationwide problem.President Obama’s proposed budget calls for $7.2 billion to fund research and treat traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. About 1.7 million cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) occur annually. About 52,000 people die every year from TBI and an estimated 5.3 million people live with a TBI-related disability. People with untreated concussions have a higher chance of stroke and epilepsy.

Often concussions go undetected because victims do not always show outward symptoms right away.

According to Dambinova, the hope is that this test can diagnose mTBI immediately or soon after the injury, as well as determine the severity of the injury, which would help facilitate early intervention.

Charles Amlaner, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate College at Kennesaw State University, said this is an important addition to the university’s growing portfolio of research activity.

“This grant from the Department of Defense underscores the importance of Dr. Dambinova’s research, which we believe will have far-reaching and real-world applications,” said Amlaner. “As Kennesaw State’s reputation and stature grows, the role of research and grants such as this one will continue to play a vital role in helping us to extend the university’s reach into the national arena.”

According to Dambinova, the blood test could also be used by coaches, trainers and team doctors at athletic events. Sports and recreational activities account for about one-fifth of the 1.4 million concussions that occur annually.

“If the peptide appears, it means players should not go back to playing,” said Dambinova. “Sports people are very devoted. They want to play again and again no matter how they feel.”

Dambinova will work with researchers from Kennesaw State, Penn State Hershey Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to draw blood to test for peptide levels from 21- to -30 year-olds who have suffered a sports-related mTBI in the previous 24 hours. 

“The age of the patients is similar to that of personnel serving in the military who suffer mTBI from IED (improvised explosive device) blasts.  Often these soldiers return home with physical and psychological wounds, as well as cognitive deficits,” Dambinova said.



Kennesaw State University is the third largest university in Georgia, offering nearly 70 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing and a new Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of more than 23,400 from 142 countries.



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu