Logo for University of Iowa Health Care This logo represents the University of Iowa Health Care

INI Awards Junior Research Program of Excellence funding to Hefti, Newell

The Iowa Neuroscience Institute has awarded two grants to support early-career faculty members pursuing research in Alzheimer’s disease and in traumatic brain injury. Marco Hefti, MD, assistant professor of pathology, and Elizabeth Newell, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, will each receive $300,000 over two years to support their research.

These awards, called Junior Research Programs of Excellence, provide a base of support from which faculty members can lay the necessary groundwork for obtaining major national funding, including grants from the National Institutes of Health. “These awards funded by the Roy J, Carver Charitable Trust to outstanding junior faculty, reflect our commitment to developing the careers of faculty in the Iowa Neuroscience Institute,” said Ted Abel, Director of the INI and chair of neuroscience and pharmacology.

Marco Hefti, MDMarco Hefti, MD, assistant professor of pathology
Developmental Insights into Alzheimer Disease Pathogenesis

Hefti’s research focuses on the developmental role of the tau protein and its relation to neurodegenerative tauopathies in human postmortem brain tissue, with the goal of identifying novel tau-targeted therapeutics for Alzheimer disease and other neurodegenerative tauopathies. His work represents a novel approach to understanding the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease and related neurodegenerative tauopathies as an aberrant reactivation of developmental pathways regulating tau phosphorylation and aggregation.  This reseach has the potential to identify novel therapeutic targets across age-related neurodegenerative diseases.


Elizabeth Newell, MDElizabeth Newell, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics
Targeting the neuroimmune response following traumatic brain injury

Newell’s research seeks to identify molecular mechanisms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that may be targeted through the development of novel, precision therapies. She investigates the mechanisms by which neuroinflammation contributes to secondary injury following TBI, with a focus on age- and cell-specific mechanisms. She has developed a novel pediatric rodent TBI model to facilitate the study of age-dependent effects of neuroinflammation following severe TBI. As a pediatric critical care physician who cares for patients with traumatic brain injury, she is passionate about improving outcomes for patients.


Psychiatric and neurological disorders are devastating to individuals, their families, and society. These disorders account for nearly one-fifth of all disability leading to ill health or early death worldwide, more than any single category of disease. Created with a transformational $45 million grant to the UI from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, the Iowa Neuroscience Institute seeks revolutionary discoveries in fundamental neuroscience to translate an understanding of how the brain works into clinical treatments for disorders of the brain and nervous system.


Wednesday, February 24, 2021