Your ears will hear words behind you: Go this way. There is your path; this is how you should go.” (Isaiah 30:21) 

Yesterday I promised to share some good news with you. Here’s an inspirational story filled with great news relative to mental illness!

Aimee FranklinAfter Aimee Franklin graduated in 2007 with a degree in biology from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, she moved back home to Alabama and took a job working for her father, who had to leave an Assemblies of God pastorate after a severe heart attack.

Just before leaving campus, Franklin agreed to take the entrance exams for graduate study in biomedical research at the urging of SEU faculty mentor. With little to lose, Franklin applied to the prestigious University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) Graduate School.

Miraculously, I got accepted and I quit my paper route,” she says. But a defining moment lurked just around the corner. Could she be open about her Christian faith as a research scientist at a large secular university?

I was interviewing with all of these researchers,” Franklin recalls. “One of them asked why I was going to graduate school. I said, ‘I felt called to do this.’” The researcher asked who called her. “I said, ‘I really feel like God has called me to do this,’” Franklin responded. The interviewer wanted to know if she heard an audible voice. “No, but doors keep opening and it’s something I’m very interested in,” she explained. The interview concluded successfully, and Franklin enrolled in the doctoral program in integrative biomedical sciences.

Aimee Franklin [2]Over the next nine years, more doors opened. In 2009, Franklin began research with Lori McMahon, the renowned neuroscientist who in 2015 became dean of the 5,000-student UAB Graduate School. Under McMahon’s mentorship, Franklin discovered what has become her life’s professional passion: The Human Brain.

Most of the other organs, we have them figured out,” she says. “We know so little about the brain. Everything you discover is something new. Everything is exciting.”

The larger context [of this story] is that federal funding for brain science research is growing rapidly. For 2015, the National Institutes of Health awarded at least $5.5 billion in research grants. Hundreds of millions more in research is spent on brain disorders and diseases. In 2014, NIH announced a new 10-year, “moonshot” plan to spend an additional $4.5 billion to create new tools for brain study. UAB and SEU, through the two women scientists, will support research in three areas:

  • Fragile X Syndrome, a rare inherited intellectual disability primarily in males, in which an area of the X chromosome is vulnerable to damage. This condition accounts for up to 6 percent of autism cases.
  • Major Depressive Disorder (clinical depression). About 3 million people per year are diagnosed with clinical depression.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease. One area of study at UAB is how plaques that build up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients may interfere with normal blood flow to brain neurons, a possible factor in memory loss.

Source: PE News