Nikolaos Tsoukias — who is an associate professor at the College of Engineering and Computing in the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) — has been awarded a five-year, $2.6 million grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research microvascular contributions to brain disorders such as cerebral small vessel diseases and Alzheimer's.
"We are very excited about the opportunity that this funding provides,” Tsoukias said. “The grant will allow us to continue the development of mathematical models that simulate how blood vessels respond to neuronal activity.
"The communication between brain cells and blood vessels is often compromised in brain disorders, affecting blood perfusion and oxygenation in the brain. We will combine computational modeling and experimentation to investigate the mechanisms underlying this deficit,” he said.
Titled “Cerebral Microvascular Signaling and Neurovascular Coupling: An Integrated Approach to Investigate Vascular Contributions to Cognitive Impairment and Dementia,” the grant will fund not only Tsoukias’s research group but also his longstanding partners at the University of Vermont.
“With this latest grant, we now have seven active R01s where FIU’s BME faculty are the lead PIs,” said Ranu Jung, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Wallace H. Coulter Eminent Scholars Chair in Biomedical Engineering and her Adaptive Neural Systems Laboratory. “This is research that can impact the quality of life of millions of people, while also providing our graduate students and postdoctoral fellows an opportunity to make significant contributions to the project’s success.”
Tsoukias received his bachelor's in chemical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, in 1994 and a doctorate in engineering from the University of California, Irvine in 1999. Upon completion of a three-year research fellowship at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, he joined FIU as an assistant professor in 2003 and was promoted to associate professor in 2009.
Tsoukias is the 2006 recipient of the Arthur C. Guyton Award for excellence in integrative physiology and is also a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Microcirculatory Society and the American Physiological Society.
The NIH is the largest public funder of biomedical research around the globe. This support has led to life-saving treatments as well as an ever-growing body of research that paves the way to future breakthroughs. NIH funding comes in the form of grants, of which there are dozens of types.