AP NEWS

MU scientist awarded for neonatal brain research

October 4, 2018

HUNTINGTON— Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine researcher W. Christopher Risher, Ph.D., has been awarded a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant for his work with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

Risher, an assistant professor in the department of biomedical sciences at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, will receive a two-year, $70,000 grant from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation to investigate brain development in babies born with NAS, a condition that occurs when babies are born in a state of withdrawal after exposure to opioids in utero.

Approximately 5 percent of all babies born in West Virginia suffer from this condition, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. Risher will use a mouse model to determine how prenatal opioid exposure affects nervous system structure and connectivity.

“I hope this research will uncover innovative drug targets that can correct the brain abnormalities that arise as a result of drug abuse by pregnant mothers,” Risher said. “Our goal is to improve the outcome for children directly afflicted by the opioid epidemic.”

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