Brian Cummings is a researcher with the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center at UCI. UCI

UCI stem cell scientist Brian Cummings was awarded a $4.8 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state’s stem cell agency. This grant will support the only CIRM-funded program addressing traumatic brain injury in California. TBIs are a leading cause of death & disability worldwide, and two million Americans annually (230,000 Californians) experience one leading to hospitalization. The CIRM funding will be used to establish pre-clinical testing of a stem cell therapy for TBI. “We believe a cell therapy is a good strategy for promoting recovery of cognitive and emotional function because of the potential for long-term biological action and the multi-target effects of human neural stem cells (hNSCs),” said Cummings. Cummings is a member of the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, professor of physical medicine & rehabilitation and neurological surgery. He studies the mechanisms of recovery mediated by human stem cell transplantation after spinal cord injury and TBI. Because TBI often results in permanent cognitive and emotional deficits, the cost of TBI far exceeds the cost of treating the initial injury and includes long-term care with significant impact on patients’ friends and family. There are no effective treatments, making TBI one of the most urgent, unmet medical needs based on the number of people affected and cost to society.