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What are you Researching?


Sam Staples

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Sam Staples

Tell us about your research. What inspired your research and what do you hope your research can tell us? 

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Brandon Coventry

Neurological disorders involving dysfunction or deregulation of neural circuits such as Parkinson's disease, Epilepsy, and others are chronic and progressive diseases that severely impact quality of life. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has emerged as an effective and efficacious treatment paradigm for these "circuitopathies" as well as a powerful tool for exploring basic functionality of neural circuits. Despite DBS' clinical and scientific successes, it is fraught with off target stimulation and a lack of understanding of the underlying neural mechanisms of effective stimulation. My research centers around the development of new neural stimulation and recording tools to better understand and translate neuromodulation therapies. To this end, I have worked in the following areas:

1. Optical DBS to constrain stimulation only to local microcircuits implicated in disease.

2. Development of chronic small and large animal implantable pulse generators (IPGs) to better mimic clinical DBS practice in rodent and pig models.

3. Study of differential thalamocortical dynamics and thalamic contributions to traveling cortical waves

4. Development of awake behaving calcium imaging tools in DBS rat models to better understand thalamic entrainment of DBS stimuli.

5. AI-enabled closed-loop neuromodulation tools that learn subject neural dynamics in real time to provide target stimulation only when needed.

My research is driven by a desire to serve those whose neurological conditions currently have no recourse to current medicine. I am equal parts engineer and neuroscientist and work to translate new neuromodulation tools which work with, and not against, the nervous system to provide safer and more efficacious medical tools.

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Hugo Sanchez-Castillo

I really enjoy this question because I believe that our research is driven by our motivations, our encounters in life, and even our expectations and beliefs. In my case, I started to be involved in pharmacology because when I was young I saw many of my friends change after the consumption of alcohol. That amused me because it was something like Dr. Jeckill and Mr. Hide!!! How one calm person could be a totally different person after alcohol intake?... At that very moment, I realized that I really wanted to understand that... The other source of motivation was stress, at that crazy young age, one day I was in a car accident, I was with my friends, and the driver lost the vehicle control and we hit a wall. In the moment of the accident, I saw how time expanded itself... I saw everything in slow motion, for me it was several minutes, but after the accident the people said that everything happened in a few seconds!!!! I know that I should have had a different reaction, but I was so excited because the time was different, how my brain did that????... In this event, I incorporated time into my perspective of life. Finally, neuroscience was the last ingredient that took me on this Wonderful path...

In my lab, we study:

PTSD and related disorders in humans and rodents

Timing behavior and its pharmacological basis

Stress and addictions

Learning and Memory on Cephalopods

 

Best

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Diego Rolando Hernández Espinosa

I gained significant knowledge in characterizing microglial activation and polarization in vivo and in vitro central nervous system injury models. As a postdoctoral researcher, I have continued to enhance my skills in examining microglia activation and neurotoxicity in different models of neuronal damage by utilizing molecular biology, biochemistry, and confocal microscopy techniques. I aim to unravel the molecular mechanisms governing microglia activation and how immunoregulatory processes influence their behavior. By identifying signals regulating their activation, we hope to develop targeted immunomodulatory strategies to mitigate neuroinflammation and its detrimental effects, ultimately enhancing brain resilience.

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Brandon Coventry
23 minutes ago, Diego Rolando Hernández Espinosa said:

I gained significant knowledge in characterizing microglial activation and polarization in vivo and in vitro central nervous system injury models. As a postdoctoral researcher, I have continued to enhance my skills in examining microglia activation and neurotoxicity in different models of neuronal damage by utilizing molecular biology, biochemistry, and confocal microscopy techniques. I aim to unravel the molecular mechanisms governing microglia activation and how immunoregulatory processes influence their behavior. By identifying signals regulating their activation, we hope to develop targeted immunomodulatory strategies to mitigate neuroinflammation and its detrimental effects, ultimately enhancing brain resilience.

Hi Diego, I would love to chat with you more about your work. We have begun to investigate inflammatory and microglial responses in the context of implanted devices and deep brain stimulation. Mitigating neuroinflammation would be huge to the clinical landscape

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Jayalakshmi Viswanathan

Wow where to begin? My interest in neuroscience has always been conceptually broad – how does the brain perform the computations it does for everyday life functions, and how do these computations change with development, learning, and aging? Over the years of graduate school and post-doctoral fellowship, I’ve conducted research experiments using various behavioral, experimental, and computational techniques in humans and animals (ferrets). Using visual and auditory experimental paradigms, I investigated the mechanisms of perception, learning, memory, and how these change with aging using psychoacoustics, eye tracking, EEG, fMRI, and neurophysiology. As a program analyst contractor [KGS] supporting the achievement of the research goals of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s, I get to take a bird’s eye view of the entire neuroscientific research landscape. In my current role, I prioritize the development of the programs and infrastructure to achieve these goals. My activities range from development of targeted funding opportunities to address the gaps and opportunities in the research landscape, improving the rigor and reproducibility of funded and published research, participating in policy and program workgroups and more. I love this role; while I had no idea such roles existed for much of my own career, in this position I combine scientific expertise with communication and analytic skills to serve the public and the community I work with. Working on AlzPED, the Alzheimer’s Preclinical Efficacy Database (https://alzped.nia.nih.gov/) has been particularly fulfilling. In addition to being a curator, I also work with partner organizations to widely implement the adoption of rigorous experimental design as well as provide the research community with a platform to publish (as a preprint with a citable DOI) their negative findings which can be traditionally hard to publish.

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  • 4 weeks later...
valeria muoio

As a neurosurgeon, I feel deeply dissatisfied with the treatment available to treat our patients. We certainly need to increase our therapeutic arsenal. I believe that this dissatisfaction is the driving force behind my work (I believe that many colleagues share this feeling)
I currently have 3 lines of work and research
1. neurooncology: we look for therapeutic targets for childhood tumors that are more prevalent in pediatrics, such as medulloblastoma and ependymoma
2. cerebral palsy and movement disorders (especially in children). Children with cerebral palsy have many problems with locomotion and motility (especially spasticity and dystonia). The most commonly used treatments today (drugs and surgeries such as DBS (deep brain stimulation) still need to be greatly improved. My team is researching new interventions in the connectome of these children, such as new targets, microfocused ultrasound and different brain stimulation techniques.
3.Education: training new generations is a fundamental factor for the development of neuroscience, as well as ensuring a healthy environment where minds can offer their best. My passion is to help new neurosurgeons and healthcare students embrace neuroscience in a happy and responsible way

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Japhet Kineze

Nigeria faces a critical shortage of neurological care, making it extremely difficult for individuals to access high-quality treatment. Additionally, student interest in pursuing a career in neurology has declined. This situation is particularly concerning in war zones, where access to care and resources is even more limited.

My research passion lies in understanding how armed conflict hinders access to quality neurological care and neuroscience education, particularly in war-torn regions of Nigeria. By gathering critical data on this issue, I aim to inform improvements in learning environments, student support systems, and financing mechanisms for neurological medical treatment.

Through my healthcare and technology startup, NeuralVillage, I aim to combine neuroscience, genetics, and architecture to improve the quality of life for individuals suffering from neurological and neurosurgical diseases across Africa and beyond. By leveraging research and education, we will deliver accessible, secure, and affordable digital healthcare services.

Furthermore, I plan to actively participate in policy-making, focusing on the needs of medical professionals, educators, and students at university teaching hospitals in conflict-affected states of Nigeria. My vision is to expand this initiative to other neighbouring countries and, ultimately, reach even the most remote communities.

I believe that, as scientists, by broadening our reach, we can bridge the gap between neuroscience and education, raise awareness of neurological care, and secure funding for sustainable projects in this critical field. I am open for collaboration. Please feel free to reach out.

Edited by Japhet Kineze
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