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UMass Medical School in Worcester

By any measure, it was a remarkable discovery.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester announced they’d found a way to shut down the extra chromosome that causes the developmental problems found in people diagnosed with Down syndrome.

With federal and state budgets tight, university research funding has been increasingly hard to find in the U.S, and that doesn’t come without consequences. Higher education advocates are pointing to UMass Medical's striking scientific breakthrough as an example of why the government ought to keep investing in research.

Kit Parker, Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics at Harvard University.

Far from the city streets in Iraq and Afghanistan that are today's battlefields, a Harvard scientist is working in a sterile lab in Cambridge, simulating the impact of explosions, and trying to better understand what a blast does to a soldier's brain.

As a soldier, Army Major Kit Parker served two combat tours in Afghanistan. As a cutting-edge researcher, his work in the field of traumatic brain injury is personal.

“A friend of mine was wounded with a traumatic brain injury, and he was improperly cared for by the military," Parker said. "I got upset about this, and my frustration with my friend’s care, and some ideas that I had about brain injury, and having reviewed the literature of brain injury, I decided to get into that field.”

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