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Cleveland Clinic doctors discuss landmark brain study with goal of preventing neurological diseases

A researcher examines an MRI from a participant in the Cleveland Clinic Brain Study. [Cleveland Clinic]
A researcher examines an MRI from a participant in the Cleveland Clinic Brain Study. [Cleveland Clinic]

The Cleveland Clinic has embarked on a landmark study to unlock and better understand brain diseases.  Currently millions of people—estimated at one in every six people around the globe-- suffer from a neurological disease  such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, or multiple sclerosis.

While current medical treatments can help manage the symptoms currently there is no way to predict who will become sick or any cures for these diseases.

The ambitious study announced last week hopes to make inroads into the understanding of these diseases in order to diagnose earlier as well as develop new treatments and potentially stop the progression. The study will eventually involve up to 200,000 people over a 20-year period of time.

The study still be led by Andre Machado, M.D., Ph.D., and Imad Najm, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic’s Neurological Institute.  The study launched at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus but will expand to additional sites over time. 

The first phase of the study will enroll 10,000 volunteers over the first five years of the study.  The volunteers will include adults 50 years and older with no known neurological disorder as well as neurologically healthy adults 20 and older who have a close relative with MS. Participants will undergo yearly assessments including neurological examination, bloodwork, eye retina scans, brain MRIs, EEG and sleep studies and other cognitive function tests.

Later, winter has re-asserted itself over the last couple of weeks with bone-chilling temperatures and snow and shelters are feeling the strain of increased need from unhoused individuals and families.

The increased demand is complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic which adds another layer of  challenge for shelters trying to maintain public health protocols.

In Akron, Access Inc is partnering up and placing unhoused women and children in hotel rooms as a temporary housing solution.

 Finally, Cleveland author Echo Brown shares many of the challenges she faced attending an Ivy League school as a first-generation Black college student in her new novel "The Chosen One." Written for young adults, the book follows the main character as she navigates Dartmouth College, having just made it out of poverty in Cleveland. The fictionalized memoir details what it feels like to be watched by white peers while burdened with pressures to succeed.  Echo Brown talked to Ideastream Public Media's Carrie Wise.

For More Information:

Cleveland Clinic Brain Study Participation Enrollment Details

Cleveland Clinic Brain Study #: 216-445-8205 or email ccbs@ccf.org

Andre Machado, M.D., Ph.D., Co-Principal Investigator, Chair; Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute  
Imad Najm, M.D., Ph.D., Co-Principal Investigator, Vice Chair for Strategy and Development, Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute  
Teresa Brewer, Study Participant  
Jackie Hemsworth, Executive Director, Access, Inc.  
Carrie Wise, Managing Producer, Arts & Culture, Ideastream Public Media
Echo Brown, Author, "The Chosen One"

Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."