NIH recently awarded grant for $3.2 million study
Friday, June 23, 2023

A professor in the University of Iowa (UI) Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is collaborating on a multidisciplinary research project to improve detection and treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD).  

PD is a progressive brain disorder that can lead to uncontrollable movements, loss of balance or coordination, and eventually dementia. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons estimates 60,000 new cases of PD each year and up to 1.5 million Americans living with the incurable disorder.  

Soura Dasgupta, an electrical and computer engineering professor and F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Professor, is one of three principal investigators (PIs) on a new $3.2 million National Institutes of Health grant to support the research. Dasgupta is also a faculty affiliate with the Iowa Technology Institute, a research center within the UI College of Engineering.

The team is investigating if electroencephalogram (EEG), a long-established test for seizure disorder, can accurately diagnose PD, differentiate it from similar disorders, track its progression, and optimize treatment.  

The role of Dasgupta, an expert in signal processing, is developing a machine learning algorithm to evaluate the accuracy of the EEG at diagnosing cognitive deterioration.  

“Diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease involves administration of questionnaires that are time consuming and whose interpretation requires skilled experts often not available in rural areas. It requires very expensive technology and results can be highly variable,” Dasgupta said. “As opposed to this, EEG machines are ubiquitous, collection of EEG readings relatively inexpensive, and the proposed research involves automated, accurate diagnosis using just two minutes of EEG data.” 

The research team also includes UI Health Care neurologists Ergun Y. Uc and Nandakumar Narayanan (as PIs) and co-investigator Jeffrey Dawson, a biostatistician in the College of Public Health.  

If preliminary findings are validated, the old and widely available EEG technology could become an inexpensive and non-invasive tool for doctors diagnosing cognitive impairment in PD patients. In addition, EEG results could lead to new biomarkers and targeted therapies for cognitive symptoms of PD. 

Research reported in this article was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number RF1NS127809. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.