Congratulations to our 2021-2022 MnDRIVE Neuromodulation Fellows!

MnDRIVE Neuromodulation Fellowship Recipients

Join us in congratulating the recipients of the 2021-2022 MnDRIVE Neuromodulation Fellowships! 

MnDRIVE Neuromodulation Research Fellowships

Graduate Fellows

Sex-Modulated Dopamine Activities During Exploration

Sijin 'Cathy' Chen, Department of Psychology.  Mentor is Nicola Grissom, Ph.D., Psychology.

Neuropsychiatric disorders are a significant public health challenge in Minnesota. This includes disorders of reward processing such as addiction, and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism which are highly gender biased in their presentation. Cathy Chen's research will identify critical sex-modulated neural circuits and mechanisms of reward processing to target for neuromodulatory interventions, and potentially develop into a new class of treatment for those who are struggling with neuropsychiatric disorders.

Novel Electroceutical Approach for Neuromodulation of the Kidney as a Treatment for Hypertension

Arthur de la Cruz-Lynch, Department of Integrative Biology & Physiology.  Mentor is John Osborn, Ph.D., Department of Surgery.

Hypertension is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, heart failure, and heart attacks. The inadequate management of hypertension and lack of new anti-hypertensive drugs in development has created a desperate need for non-pharmacological device-based therapies to effectively and affordably treat patients. Arthur de la Cruz-Lynch’s research project aims to develop a specialized renal nerve cuff with Heraeus Medical Components, which can electrically block renal nerve activity, in a non-destructive, reversible, and titratable. Such devices have the potential to improve the quality of life for all individuals with hypertension and establish Minnesota as a national leader in autonomic neuromodulation.

A Novel GABAergic Projection from the Hippocampus to the Supramammillary Area

Lauren Glassburn, Department of Neuroscience.  Mentor is Esther Krook-Magnuson, Ph.D., Neuroscience.

Roughly 54,000 Minnesotans have epilepsy, and about 94,000 Minnesotans have Alzheimer’s disease. Both conditions are closely linked to dysfunction in the hippocampus, a brain region responsible for episodic memory and other cognitive processes, including spatial navigation. Lauren Glassburn's project will characterize a novel hippocampal projection that would reveal how the hippocampus can influence another brain region, the supramammillary area, which has the potential to modulate identification and memory encoding of familiar and novel environments.

Neuromodulation of the Auditory Pathway Through Paired Electrical and Acoustic Stimulation: Development of a Novel Hearing Enhancement Device

Abigail Heiller, Department of Biomedical Engineering.  Mentor is Hubert Lim, Ph.D., Department of Otolarynogolgy, Head, and Neck Surgery.

The project envisions creating a University of Minnesota start-up company in the Twin Cities developing neural and audio technologies and algorithms that combine electrical and acoustic stimulation for enhancing hearing performance, with the goal of treating hearing loss locally and internationally. Abigail Heiller's research aims to develop a new non-invasive brain enhancement technology to improve hearing performance and combat hearing loss through paired music listening and comfortable electrical stimulation of the ear. The increasing aging population and prevalence of hearing loss generates an immense need and market for an enhanced hearing device to mitigate the social, psychological, cognitive, and economic impacts of hearing deficits, which is becoming a rapidly growing health crisis in society. Furthermore, hearing loss is closely linked to tinnitus, so improving hearing with this new technology could also help to treat those with comorbid hearing loss and tinnitus.

Ventral pallidal GABAergic projections to lateral hypothalamus in cue-elicited reward seeking and eating behavior. 

Alexandra Scott, Department of Neuroscience.  Mentor is Jocelyn Richard, Ph.D., Neuroscience.

The obesity rate in Minnesota has nearly doubled in the last 20 years, up to 30.1% in 2018. In the state of Minnesota, medical costs due to obesity averaged 3.2 billion dollars in 2017. Alexandra Scott's research will use neuromodulation to examine if ventral pallidal (VP) neural projections stimulate or inhibit food intake. This research will provide novel information about potential therapeutic effects of VP cell circuitry for obesity and subsequently positively impact quality of life.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Closed loop neuromodulation for controlling synchrony between brain regions. 

Sadegh Faramarzi Ganj Abad, Ph.D., Department of Biomedical Engineering.  Mentor is Theoden Netoff, Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering.

Dr. Abad's research aims to develop a novel deep brain stimulation (DBS) approach to treat pathological synchrony in Parkinson's Disease (PD). His goal is to develop a flexible closed-loop hardware and software system to control synchrony between neural oscillators in different regions of the brain with minimal stimulation current. This approach will be used to abolish pathological synchrony without suppressing normal physiological oscillations.

Optimizing closed-loop stimulation sequences to control beta band oscillations in Parkinson’s disease.

Hafsa Farooqi, Ph.D., Department of Biomedical Engineering.  Mentor is Theoden Netoff, Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering.

Dr. Farooqi's project aims to develop neural control systems with the precision and temporal specificity critical to characterizing the role of oscillatory dynamics in brain function. Using a closed-loop evoked-interference deep brain stimulation (iDBS) will optimally suppress or amplify oscillations in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) or globus pallidus (GPi) with varying amplitude and frequency in real-time. This is essential to advance the development of personalized DBS systems for Parkinson’s disease and other brain conditions.

Cerebellum-forebrain circuitry underlying anxiety/depression-like behavior in a social isolation mouse model

Salil Saurav Pathak, Ph.D., Department of Biomedical Sciences in Duluth.  Mentor is Yi-Mei (Amy) Yang, Ph.D., Department of Biomedical Sciences in Duluth.

Dr. Pathak aims to identify the neurocircuits responsible for this vulnerability which will establish the cerebellum as a new locus for psychiatric disorders predisposed by adolescent social stress. The novel insights can be capitalized to develop innovative therapeutics for mental illness.

Real-time closed-loop TMS-EEG and tACS to investigate motor cortex excitability

Miles Wischnewski, Ph.D., Department of Biomedical Engineering.  Mentor is Alexander Opitz, Ph.D., Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Understanding motor cortical excitability is a crucial element to develop treatment in movement disorders such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and many more. Dr. Wischnewski will investigate the causal relationship between neural oscillations and motor cortex activation, greatly advancing knowledge of neuromodulation and the human motor system. Using cutting-edge technology neuromodulation and precise brain wave recording is combined in real-time. This study lays the groundwork for future clinical applications in rehabilitation of movement disorders.

Clinical Fellows

Cortical Excitability at the DLPFC as a Measure of Neuroplasticity and Potential Biomarker for TMS Response

Saydra Wilson, M.D., Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.  Mentor is Alik Widge, M.D., Ph.D., Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Over 214,000 Minnesotans suffer from severe mental illness including major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Dr. Wilson studies how transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) works to provide relief from depression. She investigates how TMS changes brain rhythms and brain signaling using TMS-EEG which can be used to discover more efficient TMS stimulation parameters by personalizing the stimulation to match the patient’s brain rhythms. By leveraging state of the art neuromodulation techniques her work aims to provide more individualized and targeted interventions for those who struggle with mental illness.