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  • Writer's pictureJiabin Shen, PhD

What motivates me to keep doing clinical research?

Well, this is not news news, but more like old news. But since I just started updating this blog, please bear with me in reiterating this important milestone for my lab. Okay, (deep breath) it goes:

I’m pleased to announce that our lab has received over $700,000 funding from NICHD/NCMRR for a three-year clinical trial to study the efficacy of a virtual reality-based cognitive rehabilitation program for children with moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries.” There you go! Well, that’s pretty much as far as I can go with formal accoutrement, but details of this news can be found elsewhere that I will just cite here for interested readers:

UML Report:

Lowell Sun report:

In this blog post though, I just wanted to add a little bit background of this study, especially about what motivated me to continue on this line of research. Let me just start by saying that it is never easy to conduct any clinical research, especially for a non-medically-trained psychologist (and by saying ‘psychologist’, I only meant psychology researcher, as I’m not a licensed psychologist).

But here is the thing. I was trained in pretty “traditional”, or let’s say, “experimentally-oriented” developmental psychology programs until I got to UAB. The developmental PhD program at UAB was amazing, and what was even more amazing was the opportunity to learn from my mentor, Dr. David Schwebel, to apply developmental science to help children in need. At my time at UAB, it was helping children stay safe when crossing the street, when playing near natural waters, or when playing with stray dogs. With this NIH funding, I got the opportunity to help another group of children in need, those who suffered from traumatic brain injuries. I am a happy person even if my small interventional program can only make a tiny contribution to improve their rehabilitation outcomes, perhaps in this trial, perhaps in the many trials hopefully to follow that are based on discoveries of this study.

Now, you might ask, why are you so ‘obsessed’ with helping children in need? Well, it’s probably not an overstatement to say that most scientists have a heart to help people in need, and as a developmental or child psychology researcher, I’m inclined to bias my scientific heart to underserved pediatric populations. Okay, this is probably too formal a motivation for the spirit of a blog post, but it’s true. But but, there are also many more personal (or shall we say, mundane) stories that lightened my scientific career path to-day. Perhaps a topic for another day.

- Jiabin Shen


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