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Digging Deeper: Research Around LU

November 28, 2023


Charles R. Joseph, M.D., associate professor of neurology at Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine, is working with students on developing new techniques to identify early signs of dementia. Their current research is focused on developing a noninvasive efficient MRI procedure to study brain blood flow and how this differs in neurological diseases.

The group is currently studying how blood flow in the brain varies in patients with different forms of dementia in hopes that it will contribute to a better understanding of how the health of the blood-brain barrier influences treatment options and patient outcomes.

As a LUCOM faculty member, Joseph has described his research in six peer-reviewed publications and believes there are “tremendous opportunities for this novel MRI approach as it will be the first easily obtained, noninvasive, and reproducible measure of brain blood flow to study and treat neurological diseases.”


Andy Langeland (’22), a research fellow with the Helms School of Government, has been studying cases of manumission in Virginia — the formal process in which 18th- and 19th-century slaveholders, without any government order, voluntarily granted legal freedom. The purpose of the project is to educate the public on generally unknown historical facts and aspects of slavery in Virginia and dispel falsehoods and popular myths about freed slaves.

Langeland is combing through court documents and other government records case-by-case to gather details about freed slaves so he can properly convey their stories. “These manumission documents point to inspirational stories that have been largely overlooked and need to be rediscovered and shared to a broader audience,” he said. Virginia has the most cases of manumission in the country, with at least 5,000 cases recorded and at least 20,000 slaves known to have been freed in this manner. So far, Langeland has documented instances of manumission in Lynchburg and area counties (Campbell, Bedford, Pittsylvania, Charlotte, Amherst, Halifax, Albemarle, and Nelson). He hopes to expand his research throughout Virginia while he pursues a doctorate in public policy.


Rob Kacinski (’21), a Ph.D. in Engineering student, is conducting research in thermal and fluid engineering specifically applied through therapy methodologies to treat symptoms in patients suffering from respiratory distress.

The research is being funded and directed by the New Hampshire-based medical company Vapotherm Inc. Kacinski is working under the supervision of engineering professor Dr. Wayne Strasser. Their noninvasive respiratory therapy is supplied via a nasal cannula made of a rubber material with prongs that enables a flow of highly oxygenated air to increase the patient’s blood-oxygen levels and aid in their breathing.

“We are looking at many different types of that oxygen therapy … and testing different cannula geometries, some with larger-diameter prongs so you can increase the flow more (and) deliver more total flow to the patient, or maybe take that same flow rate and then decrease the diameter of the prongs so it’s going to provide that same flow rate at higher velocities,” Kacinski said.

Kacinski’s work earned him Best Paper honors at the American Society of Thermal and Fluids Engineers (ASTFE) Conference at the University of Maryland in March, and his paper has been approved for publication in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Journal of Fluids Engineering.

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