By Sarah Carpenter

Two Eastern faculty members recently received sizeable grants to help them in their individual research projects.

Tanea Reed, assistant professor of chemistry, received a grant for her research about the treatment of traumatic brain injuries, while Elizabeth Wachtel, director of the Training Resource Center, received funds for a project geared toward educating and training social workers.

Reed said she received a $25,000 grant from the Kentucky Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network, an agency that seeks to connect those in the field doing similar biomedical-related research.

Reed said she will be using the grant money to conduct research related to traumatic brain injuries. The purpose, she added, is to lengthen the amount of time in which someone with an injury has to get to the hospital before losing brain function.

In order to conduct the research, Reed said she and a group of undergraduate students use a machine to injure the brains of lab rats.  After waiting 60 minutes, Reed gives the animal a high-powered antioxidant. Reed said her team noticed that the antioxidants given to the injured animal temporarily preserved the proteins in the brain, up to an hour so far. The proteins in the brain also are increased with the antioxidants, which can aid in cognitive functions, such as learning a new task, Reed said.  

Still, she said, the goal of her research is to extend the window in which someone with a brain injury has to receive treatment, increasing his or her chance of avoiding serious brain damage.

“It has taken us two years to get this data,” Reed said. “I will be working on this project for the rest of my time at Eastern.”

Wachtel, on the other hand, said she will use her research to further the development of state corrections, law enforcement and social workers.

Wachtel said the state agencies that oversee corrections, law enforcement and social welfare help provide the grant money, which the resource center uses to provide training for workers in those respective fields.

“Our biggest project is called the University Training Consortium,” Wachtel said.

Wachtel said that one key facet of her work is training child protection workers who fight against child abuse.

 The project also looks to help workers use their time and resources more efficiently, Wachtel said.

The center also provides training for family support workers, Wachtel said. These employees work for the state and help people determine if they are eligible for Medicaid or food benefits.  Additional facets of the program include raising awareness about early childhood mental health and treatment of substance and alcohol abuse, Wachtel said.

Gus Benson, director of Sponsored Programs, said the grants that Eastern’s faculty receive go a long way toward creating learning opportunities for both faculty and students alike.

“The grants given is a very important cog in the university wheel,” Benson said.