Gifts to Center for BrainHealth Advancing Research

Aug. 31, 2011

Reasoning and critical thinking skills among teens have stagnated in recent decades, and many veterans returning from war have a hard time reintegrating into civilian life after a brain injury. The Center for BrainHealth—with support from donors who recently gave more than $2 million— is furthering brain research aimed at developing cognitive skills among adolescents and studying the impact of traumatic brain injuries in returning soldiers.

The AT&T Foundation provided a $500,000 grant; The Meadows Foundation gave $495,000; and $250,000 was given by The T. Boone Pickens Foundation to support the BrainHealth Teen Reasoning Initiative and to study higher order cognitive development through a unique program called Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training, or SMART, in war veterans.

UT Dallas Center for BrainHealth

T. Boone Pickens (center) recently visted the Center for BrainHealth for an update on current research projects. Dr. Sandra Chapman, chief director, and Dr. John Hart, medical science director, demonstrate the one-of-a-kind brain table used by many of the Center's research scientists.

SMART teaches individuals how to think strategically, enabling deeper understanding, and creativity.

The methodology and strategies are designed to improve frontal lobe flexibility and function, the part of the brain that ultimately keeps us more independent longer.

This support is critical, explained Dr. Sandra Chapman, the Dee Wyly Distinguished Chair and Chief Director of the Center.

“These and other recent gifts we have received are allowing us to reach thousands more to help develop critical reasoning skills in adolescents and veterans,”she said. “Brain discoveries are a vast, relatively unexplored frontier, and we are making giant strides in the complete understanding of the brain and how it best operates to support complex decision making, problem solving and independent working and living, no matter the age or circumstances.”

BrainHealth’s Teen Reasoning Initiative started in 2008 as a pilot project to address the high school dropout crisis in urban schools. Thanks to state and private funding, the program has expanded from just 54 students in one middle school to more than 6,000 students in two dozen schools in the Dallas Independent School District and elsewhere across the state.

“I am very encouraged and excited by the early research findings of this program,” said T. Boone Pickens. “We are losing too many young minds when they drop out of school, and this jeopardizes the future of our entire community. I believe the Center for BrainHealth has found an approach that works not just for the Dallas area, but other cities facing this dilemma.”

Supporters of the Center for BrainHealth’s SMART initiative said the program makes a positive impact on soldiers. “The Pentagon estimates that more than 360,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans may have suffered brain injuries,” said Linda Evans, president and chief executive officer of The Meadows Foundation. “Each month that passes increases the number of veterans returning from service with a traumatic brain injury. The Center for BrainHealth’s SMART program can provide the tools needed for long-term improvement in the lives of soldiers who have suffered a brain injury.”

More information on the BrainHealth Teen Reasoning Initiative, the center’s research with soldiers, and other research programs can be found at on the center's website.


Media Contact: Shelly Kirkland, UT Dallas Center for BrainHealth, (214) 905-3007, shelly.kirkland@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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Heather Conover

Research RN Heather Conover and Research Assistant Raj Patel work with a former soldier participating in SMART. This program has received donor support and major research grants, as it helps service men and women returning from war to overcome effects of brain-related injuries.

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