Senior Contributes to Ground-Breaking Research With Cleveland Clinic

January 1, 2012

Fusing education with experience, Baldwin Wallace senior Jasmina Ellis participated in a $250,000 government-sponsored study with the Cleveland Clinic that could change how concussions are diagnosed.

Ellis, who is majoring in biology with a minor in neuroscience, dedicated a semester assisting in a study that focuses on using blood tests to detect sports-related brain injuries. Her work was part of an internship position and a senior seminar with BW and the Cleveland Clinic. 

Study Offers Opportunity to Advance Medical Diagnoses

Examining blood samples for levels of a protein called "S100B," the study seeks to identify notable brain injury not significant enough to be detected by traditional methods.

Upon completion, the research will be submitted for FDA approval as a feasible brain-injury blood test.  Its effect will have major implications and change the way concussions are diagnosed by reducing the need for MRIs and CT scans.

Ellis, a resident of Brunswick, was an important part of the study, contributing by interviewing players about their medical history relating to head-injury and concussions. At the Cleveland Clinic, she was part of a team of researchers working to develop a test that can aid a doctor's ability to track the long-term effect of high-impact sports.

In addition to Ellis, the BW football team is an integral part of the study. The players have volunteered to be test subjects for the research, allowing Cleveland Clinic staff to draw blood before and after game activity.

Affiliation with Professionals Yields Transferable Learning

As an undergraduate student, Ellis gained real-world perspectives of the medical research field through her internship. "I was able to gain the experience of working with a team towards a common goal while simultaneously learning how a professional lab is run," she said.  

She believes her experience in the lab of Dr. G. Andrew Mickley, professor in BW's psychology department and chair of BW's neuroscience program, provided excellent training for recording data and using proper lab techniques while working with the Cleveland Clinic. With plans to continue her graduate studies as an anesthesiologist or physician assistant, this study will serve as a distinguishing undergraduate experience.  

Involved in the study is Paul Gubanich, M.D., a team doctor for Baldwin Wallace University and an orthopaedic specialist with the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Center.  

Principal investigator for the research is Damir Janigro, Ph.D., who is working with co-investigator Nicola Marchi, Ph.D.  Both doctors are with the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute.