On the heels of his $11.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish the Center for the Study of Aphasia Recovery, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health distinguished professor Dr. Julius Fridriksson (Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders) has been named the S.C. SmartState™ Endowed Chair of Memory and Brain Function (i.e., SMARTBrain™ Chair) for the SeniorSMART™ Center of Economic Excellence.
[Photo: Dr. Julius Fridriksson]
Established by South Carolina’s leading research universities (i.e., Clemson University, Medical University of South Carolina, University of South Carolina), the core of the of the SmartState Program is its approximately 55 Centers of Economic Excellence, which are organized into six clusters. The Program also supports SmartState Endowed Chairs (with now five* of them holding primary appointments with the Arnold School)—world-renowned scientists and engineers who lead the Centers. The SmartState Program provides between $2 and $5 million in funding via the S.C. Education Lottery, which the Centers must match dollar-per-dollar with support from non-state partners. Since its inception in 2002, the SmartState Program has created 10,000 jobs and secured more than $1.5 billion in investments from non-state partners.
The SeniorSmart Center is a part of the Program’s biomedical cluster. It was established in 2007 to address the health issues that will be amplified as the over-65 population experiences a dramatic increase as the Baby Boomers age. Aimed at fostering independence for this age group, the SeniorSmart Center takes a three-pronged approach. SMARTBrain, led by Dr. Fridriksson, will help seniors maintain intellectual activity. SMARTWheels™, which will be led by a yet-to-be-named Endowed Chair from Clemson University, will promote independence and mobility outside the home. And SMARTHome™, led by the College of Social Work’s Sue Levkoff who is also partnering with Arnold School researchers on the S.C. Healthy Brain Research Network, will focus on maintaining mobility for seniors inside their homes.
Dr. Fridriksson, who is already familiar with the SmartState Program through his frequent collaborations with USC Professor of Psychology and SmartState Endowed Chair in Neuroimaging Dr. Chris Rorden, is well prepared to expand his work to SmartState arena. The recipient of both the Arnold School’s 2010 and 2016 Faculty Research Award, Dr. Fridriksson began his research on the neurophysiology of aphasia recovery at the Arnold School 15 years ago when he created his Aphasia Lab at the start of his first academic appointment.
The Aphasia Lab has grown to now encompass Dr. Fridriksson’s aforementioned NIH grant and it will continue to grow now that he will be leading the SMARTBrain component of the SeniorSMART Center. “All of these facets will focus on stroke recovery and how the brain ages in general,” says Dr. Fridriksson. “We will leverage the resources from all of these projects to enhance how they work independently and together to improve stroke recovery and intellectual aging.”