Pratt Students Speak at White House BRAIN Conference

Three Pratt participants in the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenge Scholars Program were invited to the White House Sept. 30 for the BRAIN Conference. The national conference celebrated new commitments to President Barack Obama’s BRAIN Initiative that aims to revolutionize understanding of the human brain and improve treatment of brain disorders.

Duke Engineering alumna Daria Nesterovich E’14 (left) and senior Melina Smith were featured speakers (see video at 32:23 and at 2:17:20); they also participated in a panel discussion along with fellow Pratt GC Scholar Kevin Mauro.Daria Nesterovich and Melina Smith at White House BRAIN Conference

Nesterovich, now a PhD student at the University of Utah, conducted her GC Scholar project on “Design and Validation of a Device to Quantify Limb Rigidity in Parkinson’s Disease” in the lab of biomedical engineering professor Warren Grill, who was also invited to participate in the White House event.

Smith, a biomedical engineering major, is pursuing a project on “Effects of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on Single Neurons” in the lab of associate professor Marc Sommer. Mauro, also a senior BME major, studies “Brain Control of Three Arms by a Two-Armed Primate” with professor Miguel Nicolelis.

Duke Engineering faculty were also among the first wave of U.S. researchers awarded funding through the BRAIN Initiative to advance neuroscience research. Allen Song, a professor of radiology biomedical engineering, psychiatry, and neurobiology, is principal investigator on an NIH grant to develop next-generation brain imaging. Guillermo Sapiro, professor of electrical and computer engineering, is a co-investigator on the project.

Duke group at White House BRAIN Conference