CVNR Newsletters - Collection of CVNR Newsletters


CVNR Highlights

Spring 2021

Pain researcher draws inspiration from Chinese medicine

Dr. Anna Woodbury was featured for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in a weekly highlight produced by the Atlanta VA. She cited her heritage as an inspiration for her research into the use of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine for use in pain management. Dr. Woodbury is currently studying the use of non-narcotic and alternative therapies for the treatment of chronic pain and fibromyalgia through the Atlanta VA’s Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation.  Great job, Dr. Woodbury!

CVNR Researchers Collaborate with Clinical Speech-Language Pathologist to Help Veterans with Aphasia

Kudos to Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation (CVNR) researcher Dr. Amy Rodriguez and Speech-Language Pathology clinician Jenny Munro for recently teaming up to pilot innovative brain imaging techniques to study treatment for aphasia, a condition in which a person has difficulty producing or understanding language. Dr. Rodriguez and her colleagues are using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to understand brain patterns that predict response to aphasia treatment with the goal of improving the quality of life for Veterans.

Gerofit Program Promotes Exercise and Health for Older Veterans

Kudos to our Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) and Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation (CVNR) staff for teaming up to offer a new exercise program that promotes health and wellness for Veterans over the age of 65. Gerofit is designed to help Veterans stay in shape and independent by using a variety of strength and aerobic exercises. For more information on this great way for our Veterans to stay active, contact Jess Kelleher at 404.315.4100 x 373125.

Winter 2021

VA Researchers removing barriers to PTSD care

Congratulations to Dr. Sheila Rauch, investigator at our Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation for her efforts to improve the lives of Veterans with PTSD. Dr. Rauch is investigating the effectiveness of a condensed form of PTSD treatment as compared to standard PTSD treatment received in primary care. “Our goal is to remove barriers to effective PTSD treatment by providing treatment in the moment Veterans first are open to care,” said Rauch. Her promising work is currently featured in the VA Research Currents: https://www.research.va.gov/currents/0121-VA-researcher-tests-condensed-form-of-psychotherapy-to-treat-PTSD-patients.cfm

Fall 2020

VA Aphasia researcher helps to bring the joy of communication to others

The Atlanta VA Research Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation (CVNR) celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month by highlighting the work of  Dr. Amy Rodriguez, a Research Health Scientist at the CVNR. Dr. Rodriguez is currently conducting research investigating cutting-edge treatments for people with aphasia, a communication disorder that currently affects over 2,000,000 Americans according to the National Aphasia Association.

Second Lady Karen Pence Visits Atlanta Veterans

Atlanta’s Veterans recently received a visit from Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, at the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program in honor of suicide prevention month. For the press release from Emory click here.

Researcher’s study helps Veterans keep their vision

Congratulations to Dr. Machelle Pardue, associate director of our Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation, for her research that takes a new approach to detect and treat eye disease that can lead to blindness. Click on the link to learn more: https://www.research.va.gov/currents/0320-Researchers-take-new-approach-to-detect-treat-eye-disease-that-can-lead-to-blindness.cfm

Winter 2020

Researcher Recognized For Vision Loss Treatment Study

Congratulations to Dr. Machelle Pardue and her team for being featured in the Federal Laboratory Consortium’s “2020 Planner: A Spotlight in the R&D of Federal Laboratories.” Her research includes development of novel screening and treatment strategies for Veterans with vision loss. Early detection of vision-threatening diseases such as diabetic retinopathy (DR) and retinal degenerations is important to the long-term treatment and care of our Veteran population. Dr. Pardue’s lab is developing a non-invasive diagnostic system that can be used to make DR screenings more routine with less resources. It shortens the length of time needed for the screenings, as compared to current techniques and can be used in a variety of clinical and non-clinical settings.

Researchers recognized by VA Deputy Under Secretary Dr. Carolyn Clancy

Many thanks to the 16 researchers from the Atlanta VA Rehabilitation Research Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation (CVNR) who participated in the 3rd annual VISN 7 Research Symposium recently held at the Birmingham VA Medical Center. Dr. Carolyn Clancy gave special acknowledgement to two Atlanta VA and CVNR researchers, Drs. Keith McGregor and Joe Nocera, calling attention to their work in neuroscience which she expressed was an especially important and fast-moving area to watch in VA research. Drs. Machelle Pardue and Anna Woodbury were selected to give individual presentations about their cutting-edge rehabilitation research programs.

Summer 2019:

Atlanta VA Researchers, Drs. Machelle Pardue and April Maa, were selected to participate in the 2nd Annual “VA Research Day on the Hill” on June 20th in Washington DC. These distinguished investigators showcased their innovations in sensory research to Congressional members and their staff. This event, sponsored by the VA Office of Research & Development, recognizes and celebrates research innovations that have led to advances in Veterans’ care and furthered the nation’s understanding of medical research. Well done!

Spring 2019

The CVNR introduces Venkatagiri Krishnamurthy, PhD who has received the VA Rehabilitation Research & Development Career Development 2 Award “Multimodal Neuroimaging: Advanced Tracking of Longitudinal Aphasia Recovery.” Every year, 1/3 of the Veterans who are hospitalized with stroke develop stroke-related language disorders. Since the first few months post-stroke are important in the recovery of language function, Dr. Krishnamurthy will work to develop brain imaging methodologies so clinicians can accurately identify the parts of the brain associated with language recovery. Dr. Krishnamurthy has been collaborating with the CVNR for several years and we welcome him as a Principal Investigator in the center. 

Fall 2018

Congratulations to Lisa Krishnamurthy, PhD who received a near perfect score on her VA Rehabilitation Research & Development Career Development Award “Beyond lesion-language mapping in aphasia: A novel imaging-based prediction model.” This project will create a more complete imaging methodology that contains both anatomical and physiological correlates of language behavior, highlighting key brain areas to target for rehabilitation after stroke. Dr. Krishnamurthy has been collaborating with the CVNR for several years, and her efforts have culminated with this VA award. She will be joining the CVNR as a Principal Investigator this Fall. Welcome!

Winter 2018

Dr. April Maa has been promoted to Clinical Director of Technology-Based Eye Care Services (TECS). TECS is a comprehensive tele-ophthalmology program with the VISN 7 Regional Telehealth Service, which helps provide better access to eye care for rural Veterans.  Well done, Dr. Maa!  

Congratulations to Dr. Andrew Feola!  His research study, The Effect of Estrogen Deficiencies on Vision Loss in Glaucoma, has been selected for funding.  Dr. Feola intends to understand how a change in hormonal status affects visual function and biomechanical properties of the eye. His projects also investigate hormones (e.g. estrogen) as neuroprotective against the progression of visual impairment in glaucoma and potentially their benefit in various ocular diseases. Welcome to the CVNR, Dr. Feola!


Recent Funding

Spring 2021 

Dr. Madeleine Hackney received funding for a pilot project titled: "Moving in space and time: identifying spatial and temporal components of complex rhythmic movement training for people with prodromal Alzheimer’s disease" and for a new grant titled: "Novel Interventions for Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathy". She also was awarded supplements for her project "Partnered Rhythmic Rehabilitation for Enhanced Motor-Cognition in Prodromal Alzheimer's Disease" to refine rigor and increase safety.

Dr. Jeffrey Boatright received funding for a new NEI NIH R01 grant, "Modulators for Retinal Ganglion Cell Injury" and had his Vision Research Core grant renewed with Dr. Machelle Pardue.

Dr. Arash Harzand received an intent to fund letter for his CDA-2, "Enhanced Home-Based Exercise Therapy for Peripheral Arterial Disease through Mobile Health and Remote Monitoring"

Fall 2020

Dr. AM Barrett received an intent to fund from VA RR&D for SPiRE grant “A biomarker for personalized care in post-stroke spatial neglect”.

Dr. Jeffrey Boatright received a three-year grant from the Kats Foundation to support his research work in ocular disease and a separate grant for 3 years to continue the TUDCA clinical trial.

Dr. Madeleine Hackney acquired a supplement fund to her CDC STEADI project.

Summer 2020

Dr. Sheila Rauch has become the Atlanta study site lead for a new Central IRB study examining a new suicide prevention strategy for patients identified as high risk through a machine learning algorithm at inpatient discharge. She also received funding for a three-year demonstration project, “Overcoming Access Barriers for PTSD Treatment in Primary Care: Demonstration and Evaluation of Prolonged Exposure for Primary Care (PE-PC) in Rural PC”, funded by the VA Office of Rural Health and she received funding from the Woodruff Foundation for the transition to all virtual intensive outpatient program for PTSD and related disorders.

Drs. AM Barrett and Amy Rodriguez had their HSR&D Heroic SWIFT proposal “Remote Assessment of Spatial Function Post-Stroke: Improving Access to Care” funded.

Dr. Shan Ping Yu received funding for five years for his R01 entitled “A novel approach of neurogenesis after stroke.”

Dr. Andrew Feola received an intent to fund notice for his R01 entitled “Impact of Menopause on the Aqueous Outflow Pathway.”

Spring 2020

Dr. Keith McGregor received his intent to fund notice for his RR&D SPiRE submission, “Effects of Acute Exercise on Functional Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Measures of GABA in Aging and Chronic Stroke.”

Dr. Jeffrey Boatright has been awarded a Bright Focus Foundation glaucoma grant entitled, “Nicotinamide riboside as treatment in models of retinal ganglion cell damage” for the period 09/01/20 –08/30/22.

Spring 2019

Rachael Allen, PhD continues her VA research program with her newly funded VA Rehabilitation Research & Development Career Development 2 Award “Neuroprotective Strategies for Retinopathy and Cognition in Diabetes.” Dr. Allen will study the role of dopamine in Type II diabetes and investigate if dopamine restoration at the first signs of diabetic retinopathy will protect the brain and retina from diabetic complications. Diabetes affects nearly 20% of Veterans and that number is expected to rise to 35% by 2025.

Joe Nocera, PhD received funding for his first VA Rehabilitation Research& Development Merit Award. Dr. Nocera’s project, “Graded Intensity Aerobic Exercise to Improve Cerebrovascular Function and Performance in Aged Veterans,” will utilize fMRI to evaluate two primary measures that show the effect of various intensities of exercise on cerebrovascular health. These measures will help determine the impact of aerobic exercise on brain health in aging Veterans.

Fall 2018

Keith McGregor, PhD has been awarded VA Rehabilitation Research & Development Merit funding. Dr. McGregor’s project, “Effects of Aging on Cortical Excitability During Motor Learning” will be focused on the effects of aging on the brain's ability to learn new tasks. Using technologies including magnetic resonance spectroscopy, functional magnetic resonance imaging and transcranial magnetic stimulation, this project will attempt to discern the patterns of brain activity associated with optimal motor learning in older adults.

Dr. Jeffrey Boatright received a new VA Rehabilitation Research & Development Merit Award for his project, “A TrkB Activator for Treatment of Glaucoma.” Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness and inordinately affects Veterans. Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) keeps our brain and retina cells healthy. However, as we age, or in diseases such as glaucoma, BDNF levels decline. Dr. Boatright is developing drugs to be taken orally that supplement declining BDNF levels with the hopes of protecting vision.


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