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Yale Researchers Receive Donaghue Investigator Awards


New Haven, Conn. — The Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation for Health-Related Research are funding a Yale School of Medicine study about the way the elderly see themselves and another looking at new treatments to help people continue to drive.

Yale received two of the foundation’s three, five-year $600,000 Investigator Awards this year.

Becca Levy, associate professor in the Departments of Epidemiology & Public Health and Psychology, will conduct a randomized controlled trial aimed at increasing behaviors that promote good health in older individuals. Her previous research demonstrated for the first time that positive age stereotypes can improve the physical and cognitive functioning of older individuals and that positive age self-perceptions can predict longevity, after adjusting for baseline measures.

“It is exciting to have the opportunity to build on our findings and apply them to health promotion,” Levy said. Her research suggests that the intervention is likely to benefit highrisk groups of older individuals in Connecticut, particularly African American elderly.

Hal Blumenfeld, associate professor in the Departments of Neurology, Neurobiology and Neurosurgery, will study patients using virtual reality driving simulators during epileptic seizures. While patients are “driving,” neuroimaging and electrical measurements will help determine the brain regions involved in epileptic seizures and how seizures cause loss of consciousness.

“This will be the first time that driving impairment during seizures will be directly measured,” said Blumenfeld, who hopes to design improved treatments to preserve consciousness and prevent car accidents.

The Donaghue Foundation chose the projects as research that promotes the advancement of medical knowledge, is of practical benefit to society, and fills significant gaps in the understanding, treatment, and prevention of disease.

Raymond S. Andrews Jr., co-trustee of the Donaghue Foundation with Bank of America, said, “We are pleased that the Donaghue can provide the type of support to talented researchers that will allow them to pursue innovative and important answers to significant health problems.”

The Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation was created by the late Ethel Donaghue, one of Connecticut’s first female attorneys, to support research of practical value to society. She established the Foundation as a memorial to her parents.

Because of this philosophy, the Foundation is making ongoing investments in the development of particularly promising medical investigators whose research has the potential for making a direct impact on improving clinical practice and community health. The grants from the Donaghue Investigator Program for Health-Related Research are designed to support the work of highly talented researchers holding academic appointments at Connecticut institutions.


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