A UND professor has been awarded more than $2 million in grant funding to conduct research that could lead to new therapies for strokes and traumatic brain injuries.

Mikhail Golovko, associate professor in the department of biomedical sciences at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, was awarded $2.3 million from the National Institute of Health. The funding will allow Golovko and his team to continue to study a mechanism for brain-blood regulation focused on understanding how the brain controls oxygen and nutrient uptake, per a UND press release.

“Understanding brain metabolism and the ways to correct it under pathophysiological conditions has long been a research interest of mine,” said Golovko. “The grant will also allow our lab to explore long-term blood supply regulation in the brain, including novel vessel formation, a process called angiogenesis.”

According to Golovko, either too much or too little angiogenesis has implications for brain health. Decreased angiogenesis may cause strokes, neurodegeneration and increase age-related damage. Increased angiogenesis has been linked to the development of brain tumors and other pathologies. Because angiogenesis is important for recovery after a stroke or traumatic brain injury, research on the mechanisms regulating adult cerebral angiogenesis can help researchers identify new therapies for these conditions.

Golovko’s lab has received uninterrupted NIH funding for 12 years. The most recent grant will allow his team to continue to continue to research the angiogenesis technique, discovered in the SMHS mass spectrometry core, of which Golovko is director.

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Colin Combs, chair of the department of biomedical sciences, noted that Golovko’s grant was the latest in a series of awards the SMHS has received over the past several months. According to the news release, SMHS is coming off its most prolific year ever, in terms of dollars awarded. Researchers at the school pulled in a record $30.8 million from 2019 to 2020, from external sources. Projects focus not only on neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s disease, but cancer, Indigenous health, and various infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

“External funding aside, this and many other discoveries at UND would be impossible without substantial support from the School of Medicine and Health Sciences Dean’s Office, and from the university’s vice president for research office, which helps keep the doors of the mass spectrometry core facility opened for our researchers,” Combs said.