Conquer Chiari has an active program of awarding Research Grants and organizing Conferences in support of the Goals and Objectives identified in our Research Agenda.

Total Active Research Projects
Total Completed Research
Total Research Funded To Date
$ 1,400,000
$    442,000
$ 1,842,000

If you are a scientist or medical professional interested in Chiari research and have a project you would like to discuss, please call Rick Labuda at 724-940-0116 or email:

MRI Based Classification of Chiari Malformation
Almost every Chiari patient knows that tonsillar herniation alone is not a good indicator of symptomatic Chiari. The question then becomes, is there another objective way to identify (or diagnose) symptomatic Chiari from MRIs? Dr. Malena Espanol of the Mathematics Dept. at the University of Akron believes there is. Dr. Espanol will apply what is known as Machine Learning to the problem. Basically, the idea is to input a large amount of data – in this case morphometric measurements from the MRIs of Chiairi patients and healthy controls – into a computer analysis, so the computer can learn how to distinguish between symptomatic and asymptomatic Chiari. Dr. Espanol’s preliminary results are very encouraging, so Conquer Chiari has awarded her a $33,000 grant to continue her promising work. Developing an objective way to diagnose Chiari is one of Conquer Chiari’s top research priorities.
Voices of Chiari: Advancing Chiari Research Through a National Patient Registry
The Conquer Chiari Patient Registry now has data from more than 1600 patients. To analyze this wealth of information, Conquer Chiari is awarding Dr. Michelle Chyatte and her colleagues at NEOMED a $90,000 grant. The project includes statistical analysis for professional publications, and the creation of a new website which will allow patients to compare themselves to the data in the registry. In addition the NEOMED team will perform in-depth qualitative research on patients and their families to better describe how Chiari impacts people.
The Developmental and Psychoeducational Impact of Chiari Malformation
Dr. Kevin Kaut, a professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Akron, and a former school psychologist will examine in depth the impact Chiari has on school age children and adolescents with a $53,000 grant. Specifically, Dr. Kaut will interview and assess Chiari patients in different age groups to gather data on their cognitive abilities and school experiences. By scientifically examining how Chiari affects children in school, Dr. Kaut believes he can then develop materials and guides for both parents and school officials to maximize Chiari children’s participation in the school environment.
Metabolic and Inflammatory Alterations in Patients with Chiari Malformation
Many neurological conditions, such as MS, have been shown to involve significant changes in brain metabolism with indications of an inflammatory response. Dr. Leah Shriver, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biology at the University of Akron, will use a $60,000 grant to explore her hypothesis that Chiari patients, due to the tonsillar herniation and disrupted flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) will show significant alterations in the metabolic profile associated with the central nervous system. Dr. Shriver is an expert in metabolomics and has studied the metabolic response associated with MS. Dr. Shriver believes that characterizing the metabolic response of CM patients will provide insights into the fundamental understanding of Chiari and also may provide an indicator of Chiari related pain.
Brain Damage in Chiari 1 Malformation
A $142,000 research grant to Phil Allen, PhD and Bryn Martin, PhD to understand the neuroscience of brain damage in Chiari I malformation patients. This work will help to understand how damage to brain tissue occurs in Chiari and the cognitive and/or emotional impacts this damage may impart. Dr. Allen and Martin will utilize detailed psychological tests (32-lead electroencephalogram and others) and MRI diffusion tensor imaging and brain motion analysis tools to quantify brain damage in Chiari. This interdisciplinary study will be conducted in partnership with Cleveland Clinic Foundation (Stephen Dombrowski PhD and Mark Luciano PhD, MD) and Vanderbilt University (Seth Smith, PhD). Results from this study will help to understand the location that damage occurs in Chiari and new information about the specific neural circuits involved. Dr. Allen joins the CCRC team at the University of Akron to conduct this uniquely interdisciplinary study.
Molecular Biology Assessment of Syringomyelia
A $67,000 research grant to Nic Leipzig, PhD to conduct research in nerve damage and healing and to specifically look at the molecular processes that are involved in syringomyelia. The work will characterize the fundamental process of nerve damage, which is presently not well understood. Dr. Leipzig will utilize state of the art cellular tools to reveal this process. It is hoped that results from this study will help the development of treatment strategies to restore nerve function damaged by syringomyelia. With this funding, Dr. Leipzig joins the CCRC team at the University of Akron to conduct this important work.
Conquer Chiari Research Center
An ongoing project ($425,000 granted to date) for the establishment of the world's first research laboratory dedicated solely to advancing the medical and scientific understanding of Chiari malformation in order to improve the experiences and outcomes of patients. The Conquer Chiari Research Center (CCRC) at the University of Akron will be a state of the art facility, staffed with distinguished researchers, working diligently to: Apply the latest engineering techniques and analyses to improve diagnoses and treatment options, Leverage the Conquer Chiari Patient Registry to study the epidemiology and natural history of Chiari, Foster collaborations with leading clinicians and scientists to advance the Conquer Chiari Research Agenda and act as a focal point for the Chiari research community and attract more researchers to the study of Chiari.
Conquer Chiari Patient Database
A $125,000 project, administered by Conquer Chiari itself, to create a web based, secure database of demographic and health related information about Chiari patients. Patients will enter their own data on topics ranging from diagnostic history, to surgical history, to the impact Chiari has had on their lifestyle, all to help answer fundamental questions about Chiari. The database will be used : 1) as a source of potential Chiari patients who might be interested in participating in research studies 2) for Conquer Chiari to identify potential areas of research 3) for Conquer Chiari to perform internal research 4) for external researchers to perform research. The database will be made freely available to qualified researchers for approved projects.
Cellular and Molecular Processes Affecting Posterior Fossa Volume (Phase III)
A 3 year, $300,000 grant to Dr. Georgy Koentges to continue his groundbreaking work in understanding how and why the posterior fossa in classical Chiari is undersized and abnormal. Dr. Koentges' team has made tremendous strides in identifying the underlying mechanisms involved in the development of the bony structures that are affected in classical Chiari. With this project, his team hopes to not only fully explain those processes, but also to identify a small number of candidate genes that may be responsible. Identification of such genes would be a major advance, and would enable human geneticists to advance their work in identifying genes involved with Chiari I.
Cognitive Interventions in Children with Chiari Malformation Type 1
A $75,000 research grant to Dr. Frim and his team at the University of Chicago to extend their previous work investigating the cognitive impact of Chiari. The project will investigate the effects of two types of cognitive interventive therapies designed to improve working memory and attention (one computer based and one based on more traditional face-to-face therapy) on neurocognitive performances of children diagnosed with Chiari malformation type 1. Their hypothesis is that CM1 patients with below average executive function and memory will show improvement in those functions after one or both of the intervention. It is hoped that this project will serve to validate the hypothesis and provide the basis for a larger, multi-center NIH funded study.
Physiology-based Quantitative Assessment of CSF Flow Obstruction at the Foramen Magnum in Patients with Chiari I Malformation: Preliminary Study
A $30,000 research grant awarded to Dr. Bhadelia at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for a pilot study to quantitatively assess the degree of CSF flow obstruction at the foramen magnum in patients with Chiari I malformation (CM) using fast CSF flow imaging with MRI and physiological challenges such as Valsalva maneuver. The long term goal of this work is to provide quantitative data to clinicians to help guide diagnostic and surgical decisions.